Mauritania: Political Correctness –A Letter From Maalouma

Speech by Ms. Ms. Maalouma Meida Mint, at the 1st Freemuse World conference in 1998

 I was born in an artist’s family. I was taught traditional music by my father who was known as the best musician in my country. I was distinguished from other musicians because I was considered to be the first “modern” musician. I sang many songs composed by myself. I was on National TV for the first time in 1986, and since then I was given the name “The star of The National Television”. And from then on I became the country’s national star. I was the first who sang for the people in a modern way and I met people’s feelings through my music. The people welcomed my music because it touched the “real” feelings of the public and what was going on in reality.

My songs quickly became easy to repeat and were extended to other societies of the Middle East and North Africa. For this reason I expected much support and encouragement from the government but unfortunately the authorities did not understand me at all. In fact our culture gives little attention to musical development. There is not one single academic curriculum in the country today that teaches music or develops it.

In 1991 I sang a song about “freedom of speech” and another about the “beloved of the people” who was about the man holding the opposition during the electoral presidential votes in 1991. Since then the ruling party decided to impose a sanction against me and I was soon banned from national TV and radio.

The authorities banned me from concerts and from all contact I had with organisations. They denied me having a permanent address. Before I was always invited by all the top embassies at all ceremonies. I have been banned out of all these contacts, both socially as well as professionally.

I have written several songs on politics although they are not well recorded due to the poor equipment in Mauritania. Since my sanctions I have not travelled anywhere for the progression of my career. I live in hard conditions of which I could perhaps speak more about to you later.

Again I thank you for your interest and co-operation.

Yours faithfully Maalouma

Ms. Maalouma Meida Mint, singer, Mauritania.

1st Freemuse World Conference On Music and Censorship

The 1st Freemuse World Conference on Music and Censorship was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November 1998. Among the participants were musicians, reseachers, human rights activists and journalists from all over the world.

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