Abdel Nasser and Mauritania
Written by Amr Sabeh
The Egyptian Cultural Center in Mauritania is the oldest Egyptian and Arab center established in this African country. The history of its establishment dates back to 1963 when the 1st President of post-independence Mauritania, Moktar Ould Daddah, wrote to President Gamal Abdel Nasser asking him to intervene to restore the Arab identity of Mauritania, which was at risk of losing its identity in the event that Egypt would not offer its cultural and civilizational counterweight to preserve the Arab civilization in Mauritania.
In response to the request made by Mauritania’s President, Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered the establishment of a great Egyptian Cultural Center in Mauritania to protect its Arab identity. The Center was provided with a library carrying a total of 20,000 books in various disciplines, making it the largest library in Mauritania.
On February 6, 1964, the Mauritanian President-designate, Moktar Ould Daddah, organized a grand ceremony for the opening of the Egyptian Cultural Center, and the great Mauritanian poet Ahmedou Ould Abdel Kader recited a poem entitled "Light from the East" to praise the Center and the goal behind its creation.
Mauritanian students had earned baccalaureate degree equivalent to the Egyptian degree from the Center; and Egypt continued to receive annually a Mauritanian educational mission. The great Mauritanian poet “Shaghali Ahmed Mahmoud” wrote a poem praising Egypt, President Abdel Nasser- after reading his poem- called the young poet to study in Egypt. He came to Egypt and studied for two years at the Faculty of Education, Ain Shams University.
The Egyptian Cultural Center was closed for several years after President ElSadat has signed the peace treaty with the Zionists and then it was reopened under President Mubarak.
The Egyptian Cultural Center continued to train Mauritanians in all fields, as well as to provide them with opportunities to study in Egypt. In the 1980’s, the Mauritanian government was formed whose ministers were all graduates from Egyptian universities.
55 years after the establishment of the Egyptian Cultural Center in Mauritania by order of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the present Mauritanian government decided to return the favor to Egypt by renaming the Gamal Abdel Nasser avenue. Among all the streets of Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, the government chose this one in particular!!!
Despite everything, Gamal Abdel Nasser was far-sighted and aware of the vital importance of the Egyptian influence in the Arab world, the African continent and the Islamic world. He did the right thing by responding to Mauritania’s request to restore its Arab identity; and certainly he was not waiting or looking for a gesture in return, and that’s a street to be named after him.
Westerners and their agents do not forget their enemies, Gamal Abdel Nasser was an icon of the national project and he vigorously fought against the old and new Western colonialism, and that’s why nearly half a century after his death, they still want to eradicate his ideology and obliterate all that symbolizes him, because just an avenue named after him can inspire the culture of resistance against colonialism.
Gamal Abdel Nasser was predicting the future when he said in 1968:
“The Americans and their agents will not forgive me for what I did to them ... wether I’m dead or alive. After more than 50 years, they have not forgotten ... they have not forgiven ... nor will they ever forgive.”
Rare photos taken during the visits of the Mauritanian leader Moktar Ould Daddah to Cairo in March 1967, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and attended expanded meetings with President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The other collection of photos are taken at the airport where President Gamal Abdel Nasser receives Ould Daddah to attend the Non-Aligned Conference on October 3, 1964, October 1967, and November 7, 1968.