- Title: MAURITANIA: Festival dedicated to the fast-disappearing nomadic way of life
- Date: 10th February 2009
- Summary: BOUTLIMIT, MAURITANIA (FEBRUARY 07, 2009) (REUTERS) WIDE SHOT OF THE TENTS SET FOR THE FESTIVAL DROMEDARY DRIVERS STANDING BY TENTS TWO DROMEDARIES DROMEDARY DRIVERS SEATED ON GROUND VARIOUS OF DROMEDARY BEING SADDLED NOMADS SITTING ON THEIR DROMEDARIES READY FOR THE RACE NOMADS UNDER THE TRADITIONAL MAURITANIAN TENT "KHAIMA" SOUNDBITE (French), ORGANIZER OF THE FESTIVAL, MOHAMED MAHMOUD OULD ATIGH, SAYING: "Unfortunately the nomadic culture is disappearing, it's vanishing day after day." DROMEDARIES PREPARED FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE DROMEDARIES RACING SOUNDBITE (French), ORGANIZER OF THE FESTIVAL, MOHAMED MAHMOUD OULD ATIGH, SAYING: "I think it is important to keep this tradition alive. It can help to remind people about good times in their village and help them to understand and take part in their culture." WINNER ARRIVING AT THE FINISHING LINE A WOMAN PLAYING DRUM VARIOUS OF PEOPLE PARTICIPATING IN TRADITIONAL DANCE MEN PERFORMING TRADITIONAL BATTLE WITH STICKS SOUNDBITE (French), VISITOR TO THE FESTIVAL, TECHNICAL ENGINEER MOHAMED OULD AHMED MISKE, SAYING: "The countryside has become very difficult to live in. With desertification, people are trying to find how to make a living and for them, it's better to go to Nouakchott to work, but in Nouakchott it is hard to keep traditions." GROUP OF NOMADS SEATED ON GROUND FACE OF AN OLD NOMAD VARIOUS OF NOMADS AND DROMEDARIES ON DUNE IN THE WIND
- Embargoed: 25th February 2009 12:00
- Location: Mauritania
- Country: Mauritania
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA92FJ23AXULPOD4CT827Y5A3NP
- Story Text: Nomadic communities gathered in the town of Boutilimit, 150 kilometers south of Mauritania's capital Nouakchott, on Saturday (February 7) to take part in a one-day festival celebrating their way of life.
Thousands of spectators gathered under traditional Khaima tents to watch events which included camel racing.
More than 200 dromedary drivers came from all over the country to compete.
Dromedaries are key to the survival of nomadic families who use these animals to carry goods across the Sahara because they can survive for several days without drinking.
Their milk and meat is a staple part of the nomadic diet and families move with their camels following the rains and the location of wells.
"Unfortunately the nomadic culture is disappearing. It's vanishing day by day," said the festival's organiser, Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Atigh who hopes the event will help maintain Mauritania's rich nomadic traditions.
"I think it is important to keep this tradition alive. It can help to remind people about the good times in their village and can help them, a little, to understand and take part in their culture," he added.
The camel races were the highlight of the day but there were also poetry readings, music and dances which originate from Mauritania's slaves.
The use of sticks in the dances represents the slaves' fight to be free and face up to their masters.
Today the battle for nomadic communities is survival.
In 1960, when Mauritania became independent, nomads represented 90% of the population, today they make up just 5 percent.
"The countryside has become very difficult to live in. With desertification, people are trying to find a way to make a living and for them, it's better to go to Nouakchott to work. But in Nouakchott it is hard to keep traditions," explained Mohamed Ould Ahmed Miske, one of festival's spectators.
Two long droughts during the 1970's and 1980's drove many nomads to towns and cities.
Rural areas of Mauritania have been deserted, while Nouakchott, which had 5,000 inhabitants in 1960 now has 800,000 residents.
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