Our foreign desk e-mailed a week or so ago to say there were some visitors coming to town. They asked if we would like to meet them. They had been working in Mauritania on political reconciliation efforts there. We did a little reporting and said, yes, we would.
(My only connection to Mauritania had been a friend, a former Peace Corp volunteer, who brought back some of the loveliest brilliantly colored tie-dyed cloth. That, and the campaign of forced expulsions by former President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, who had seized power in a coup in 1984 and ruled with a heavy fist for the next 20 years.)
This is a story we have seen many times throughout history — a group decided, for whatever reason, to expel fellow citizens; those they consider the "other," or rivals, for power or resources. But unusually, in the case of Mauritania, a new regime has tried to reverse that trend.
Independent candidate Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was inaugurated in April 2007 as Mauritania's first freely and fairly elected president. One of the goals of his administration is to overcome the legacy of past ethnic divisions, including the forced banishment of tens of thousands of so-called Afro-Mauritanians and the continuation of the tradition of enslavement. This is a story I don't think we have heard a great deal about, and in the context of so many recent clashes over ethnic division, I think an important one.
There are a number of other international stories that caught our eye today.
Sorry, we can't help ourselves, FASHION. You know you want to know the latest styles. You know you do, ok? The great thing about radio: no one needs to see you listen. So it's okay to be interested in hearing a conversation about fashion.
Key tip for the day: boat shoes.
Ladies, we have you covered next week. I promise.