A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New English-Language Mauritania Blog

Via The Moor Next Door, a new Mauritanian English-language blog, a new blog by a Mauritanian whose pic and bio are here, and while he doesn't identify himself obviously his links and bio show he's Nasser Weddady, Civil Rights Outreach Director for the American Muslim Council.I'm not revealing anything here that two minutes of Googling won't give the Mauritanian regime. The blog is called Dekhnstan, which The Moor Next Door called a "clever title." Sorry to say it's too clever for my own knowledge. It clearly is used, from some Googlng, for Mauritanians, but I can't give you a better definition right now. It's new to me. Commenters (including TMND) if you see this: please explain. [UPDATE: The Moor Next Door has commented. See the comments thread. And now Nasser's explained it all. So read the comments.] As I expected, it's the word Mauritanians use for Mauritanians (why would they use the name of a Latin province, after all?) and, apparently, Sahrawis (from Western Sahara) also use. He doesn't know the etymology. Anybody else out there? Arabic Wikipedia gives me some type of millet.]

Oh, and he (the Dekhnstan blogger) doesn't much like General Ould Abd al-Aziz.


themoornextdoor said...

Dekhn (sing. akhdan) is what Mauritanians call each other. I figured it as clever because I like the addition of -stan in "dekhnstan" and because it makes a niche blog even more obscure.
As for its roots I'm not sure what it means; I've only ever heard Mauritanians and Saharaouis use it.

Michael Collins Dunn said...


Thanks. I figured it was something like that but couldn't nail it down precisely. Also no clue as to etymology. (Mauritanians hardly would be likely to call themselves after a Roman province.) I know there's a place in Mauritania called Ain Dekhna or some such, but I suspect the etymology goes the other way there and it means something like "Mauritanian spring" rather than giving its name to the group.

Any readers who know: please do post! I have an etymology fetish I usually keep under control, but I'd love to know where it comes from.

Nasser said...

I just saw this! in Hassaniya Dekhn is a plural of the Adkhan which means ochre. It's slang that Mauritanians use to describe each other. I first heard it among Mauritanian expats in the US. This is self-depracating humor to distinguish Mauritanians from other Maghrebans or Arabs. Therefore, Dekhnstan is the land of the Dekhn. The implication is that Mauritania is as dysfunctional, chaotic and forgotten as any of the other stans. And yes, I don't like General Aziz one bit. He is, as was expected, our worst nightmare since Taya.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Thanks, Nasser. TMND gave us the general sense, but you've given us the whole story. I'll try to follow the blog though I don't pretend to know Mauritania.