Country Listing

Mauritania Table of Contents



The zenaga, now the descendants of tributary vassals of the nobility, tend to be ethnically and culturally more Berber than the hassani and zawaya. They, too, are divided into warrior and religious tribes; but these traditionally were assistants to the nobles, often as slaves. The zenaga still work for the nobility, raising their livestock and looking after their families.

Traditionally, the zenaga paid both individual and group tribute to their noble patrons. Although the French colonial administration banned tribute (coutume), in some areas payment survived as late as the 1960s. Individual tribute took the form of military or educational services; group tribute was in the form of goods.

Data as of June 1988