Mauritania produces an impression of being stuck somewhere in the antiquity, which I find strangely fascinating. It obviously has a lot of problems, such as slavery or the lack of medical care, but, on the other hand, there is a low incidence of psychological disorders, and AIDS is almost nonexistent
Family and marriage:
Culturally, women's importance is recognized, but men dominate in
the economic, political, social, and religious spheres. In the south, men
provide for the family and women process and cook food and take care of
children. In the Arab-Berber north, women are not supposed to perform physical work, which is seen as degrading. Work there
is the domain of slave women...
Marriages usually are arranged, especially the first marriage...
People tend to marry for the sake of their parents and community and
usually marry within their community and clan... According to the prevailing value system, all
adults must marry and have many children but it is not unusual to find
unmarried women, particularly among the white Maurs...
Economic aspects of marriage are very important. Men are responsible for
the economic sustenance of their wives and for brideprice, along with
lavish gifts to the parents, relatives, friends, and associates of their
wives. Divorce is not common, especially in the black communities... If divorce
is the fault of the man, the wife keeps the brideprice. According to
tradition, children follow the father, but small ones remain with the
mother and the husband is obliged to support her and the children until
they grow up.
The basic household unit consists of a husband and his wife or wives plus
and the family of the husband, but household units in urban centers are
getting more compact. The man has authority in the household because the
couple lives with his kin and he is normally older and richer than the
wife. Even though the household is an extended family, tasks are sharply
divided according to gender and age...
In this extremely traditional society, belonging to a group is very
important, and the larger the group, the better. People use clan names
rather than family names. When the climate and economic conditions allow
it, larger kin groups form a village or neighborhood. Clan members
interact by sharing land and engaging in interclan marriage. The male
leader, normally the oldest and "most competent" man,
manages communal property and affairs.