In Mauritania, doctors compete with sorcerers for patients

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Nouakchott - In the heart of the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott a street is filled with sorcerers and fortune tellers who make a living by claiming they can heal the sick, chase away bad luck and bring good fortune.

Dubbed the “collective clinic street”, the location frequented by sorcerers makes it one of the busiest streets in the Mauritanian capital. It has been chosen by dozens of Mauritanian sorcerers as well as Africans for work. They live in filthy camps and small huts on the roadside and offer their skills those who seek their help.


Ironically, this street is located near the largest health cluster of clinics in the country. They compete with actual doctors to attract and treat patients. Before making it to the health compound, the patient passes the place of gathering of sorcerers and astrologers and so naturally, they try to convince the patient that they have the answers to what ails them and recipes for a full recovery.


Despite the security campaigns carried out by the authorities to chase them away, many still remain on the street. Mauritanian society is among the most believing society in the mystic powers of charlatans and seeks the advice of fortune tellers and astrologers hoping to find solutions to their problems.

“Ignorance, poverty, lack of religious faith, inability to solve daily problems and the search for luck, as well as customs, traditions and social mentality, have made Mauritanians approve the charlatans and astrologers whose numbers have multiplied and have come from far away African countries because they found in Mauritania a fertile ground for work and earn money easily especially that people react to their activities and welcome them,” Sayed Ahmed Ould Abdallah, a Mauritanian pharmacist, told Al Arabiya.

“Infertility, the quest for marriage, tarot reading, exorcism, protection against the evil eye and the search for success and wealth, are the problems and diseases that drive Mauritanians to resort to sorcerers and charlatans, who sell them only illusions, fables and superstition, in exchange for large sums of money spent by families in the hope of finding solutions to their crises” Ould Abdallah said, adding, “the need to raise awareness of the dangers of this phenomenon among the groups of society and warn them of the consequences of resorting to such hoax.”

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