I hope to be able to return to Nouakchott soon for further research on some of its suburbs. If there is a city that started from scratch, well this is it! My impression of Nouakchott is a curious sense of intermediary space, although this is not based on knowing much about what it is like to actually live there. So far my visits to the city have been very short and my impressions were based on observations of that somewhat surprising balance between private and public life. In comparison to some other cities: there is a lot of private and not much public.
Nouakchott is easily considered a place where a city dweller would come from neighboring countries to work on a temporary basis. Transit migrants and immigrants leave their own imprint to certain neighbourhoods such as the Fifth District and produce interesting transnational connections not only to Nouadhibou – a cosmopolitan Saharan city in Northern Mauritania – but also to Dakar, Saint-Louis, Bamako and other Sahelian cities. Such districts show that Saharan cities are not simple stepping stones for a migratory flux to the north but a fundamental element in the development of regional economies. There is a lot to look into here so I think I will start my journey even before entering Mauritania by chatting more with people who are in one way or another connected to Nouakcott here in Saint-Louis.
* Cross-link to one of my my earlier posts titled Saharanness.