It is the quiet revolution that intrigues me. It is the revolution that runs deep beneath the surface like some volcanic lava flow burning, seething, flowing and searching for a path to the surface.
Mauritania is experiencing such a revolution. Where is Mauritania? It is in Africa, on the West Coast, north of Senegal and south of Morocco. What is the revolution? It is a social and political revolution whose outcome is yet to be realized.
It is hard to pinpoint when it began but it might be reasonable to say that it began when the mostly benevolent dictator Ould Taya expelled thousands of Negro Mauritanians to the neighboring country, Senegal in 1989. These Mauritanians have waited, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, at the border for an opportunity to return. Social memory runs long and deep. In 2007, after the first democratically elected president, Sidi
Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi took office, he arranged with the help of the United Nations, to return of these Negro-Mauritanians to their homeland. The children of the Expelled began to return some 20 years later to find their family homes demolished or melting from age.
This is only a piece of the revolution. It is the hunt for economic prosperity for which the people of Mauritania are searching. This prosperity pressure pushed to the surface in 2007 when Cheikh Abdallahi was democratically elected. Chasing success, businesses flooded toward the fledgling democracy in 2007 and 2008. But the historical forces of rampant tribalism combined with blind obedience to the dominant ruler (likely borne from the desert culture) re-routed prosperity back underground once the seething pressure had relieved itself.
The revolution continues. The elite continue to be educated and to seek, albeit at an African pace that would frustrate the most patient of American revolutionaries, a new route to the surface, to the future. One only hopes that the revolt will surface like the lava flows of Mauna Loa; with fire and brimstone but little damage to the existing countryside.