"May God bless the independence of Mauritania", the sound of an era

Audio 02:33

The text of the Mauritanian song "Yaa Mauritani mbareck listighlal" celebrates the unity of this emerging country.

© AFP / Archive

By: Sébastien Jédor Follow |

Salem Mejbour

5 mins

Like every day that marks the 60th anniversary of the independence of an African country, RFI brings back the musical atmosphere of the time.

On November 28, 1960, Mauritania left the French Community.

On the radio, a song glorifies this historic moment: Yaa Mauritani mbareck listighlal (“May God bless the independence of Mauritania” in French).


Independence, in Mauritania, is also the independence of the airwaves.

Radio Mauritanie, originally based in Saint-Louis, in northern Senegal, was booming at the time.

In the nomadic camps, the transistor is spreading.

The station, which is preparing its final move to Nouakchott, is organizing several sessions with prominent artists.

Mounina Mint Eleya's voice dominates this recording of

Yaa Mauritani mbareck listighlal


For El Hadrami El Meïdah, the founder of the National Orchestra of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, “ 

everyone was in love with the voice of Mounina Mint Eleya, which was very beautiful.

She was a small lady, but she sang very loudly!

And at the time, that meant that we sang well!

Because the sour cherries as they should be heard by everyone, in the major fairs in which they participated, for example.


A quartet to celebrate national unity

On the Radio Mauritanie recording, Mounina Mint Eleya is accompanied by singers Isselmou Ould Nivrou and Mahjouba El Meïdah.

Jeich Ould Sedoum is a tidinit, a form of lute widely used in West Africa.

Ould Sedoum was a virtuoso nicknamed the “ 

Mauritanian Ray Charles

 ” because, like the American jazzman, he was blind.

Their presence together is also a way of celebrating national unity, in a young state threatened by Moroccan territorial claims.


They had to be brought together to unify Mauritania

," says El Hadrami El Meïdah, the founder of the National Orchestra.

Jeich Ould Sedoum was from the north, Mounina Mint Eleya was the morello cherry of the Emir of Brakna in the south, Mahjouba El Meïdah was here

(in Nouakchott, editor's note)

and Isselmou Ould Nivrou was with his family in Atar

(center-west of the Mauritania, editor's note).

And we got all these people together! 


The text of the song also celebrates the unity of this emerging country: “ 

May God bless independence (…), this day when our flag is hoisted for the first time (…).

We recognize ourselves by its beautiful colors: green and yellow crossed by a star and a crescent moon



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  • Mauritania

  • Anniversary of African Independence

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