“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.” (Isaiah 35:1)
Mauritania, an Islamic republic in North Africa, is a vast desert; constantly hot, dry and very dusty. Its legal system is a combination of Shari’a (Islamic law) and French civil law. Independent from France in 1960, Mauritania has suffered from a succession of military coups and ongoing tribal conflict. A severe drought over the past decades has devastated the country. In 1957, a small fishing town called Nouakchott was chosen to be the capitol of the new country. Now there are more than 600,000 people living here. The capital has become a crossroads for many ethnic groups with nomadic roots.
Miracles Despite the Heat
A Christian who recently visited the country described the general situation of Mauritanian believers. “You can have freedom of speech, if you are a Muslim. You can have freedom of religion, if you are a Muslim. It is in fact OK to be a Christian, but it is offensive to speak of Jesus as anything other than one of the prophets.” In this setting God is doing wonders, despite the guards that sometimes stand at church doors to ensure that Mauritanian citizens don’t enter. God has given dreams to Mauritanians even in remote areas. In the interior of the country, an Imam showed the Jesus Film in a mosque. The Iman later died and the results are unclear, but such seed sowing needs to continue. By God’s grace, there are now Mauritanians following Christ in many countries around the world.
Testimony from Mauritania:
Soon after coming to faith in Christ, Bokar told his Christian friends that he wanted to do away with a special undershirt inscribed with Koranic passages and interwoven with dozens of amulets. Several Mauritanians were afraid and said the shirt could not be destroyed, that if burned, it would jump out of the fire. This type of shirt makes the wearer impervious to any weapon. It is one of the most powerful enchantments known to the Hal-Pulaar (Fulani). After much prayer, Bokar burned his iron shirt, and the result was tremendous spiritual growth in his own life. Many who heard of the incident gained a new respect for the power of the Gospel.
Subjects for Prayer
* Pray for revelations of the love of God for whole population of over three million people.
* Desperate poverty plagues the lives of most Mauritanians, causing a sense of hopelessness and despair.
* Despite the grip of Islam on the country, animism is practised by most people. The deep-rooted fear of evil spirits (known as jinn) binds many people. Many seek supernatural help through divination and occult practices.
* There are often tensions between different tribal groups, (Soninké, Fulani, Maures, Wolof, etc.) which can lead to violence.
* Corruption is endemic in all areas of society.
* Divorce is widespread, and women and children often suffer the most.
Background on Mauritania (World Factbook)
Independent from France in 1960, Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) in 1976, but relinquished it after three years of raids by the Polisario guerrilla front seeking independence for the territory. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council, which declared it would remain in power for up to two years while it created conditions for genuine democratic institutions and organized elections. Accordingly, parliamentary elections were held in late 2006-early 2007 and presidential elections in March 2007. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population and different Moor (Arab-Berber) communities.
Economics of Mauritania
Half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though many of the nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for nearly 40% of total exports. The nation’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country’s first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In the past, drought and economic mismanagement resulted in a buildup of foreign debt, which now stands at more than three times the level of annual exports. Oil prospects, while initially promising, have largely failed to materialize, and the government has placed a priority on attracting private investment to spur economic growth. The Government also emphasizes reduction of poverty, improvement of health and education, and privatization of the economy.
Statistics for Mauritania
Population: 3,359,185 (July 2012 est.) World rank: 133
Life expectancy at birth: 61.53 years; world rank: 186
Ethnic groups: mixed Moor/black 40%, Moor 30%, black 30%
Religions: Muslim 100%
Languages: Arabic (official), Pulaar, Soninke, French, Hassaniya, Wolof
Literacy: 58% – male: 64.9%, female: 51.2%
School Life Expectancy: 8 years
Mauritania – Video
Chinguetti the library of the desert (Mauritania).