Moon Girls!

By Seyid O. SEYID, Mauritanian writer


“A bright night in the midst of a dark day. In this place of witnessing, which is the light of manifestation I have much to say, but silence is best” - Mahmoūd Shabestarī, 14th century Persian Sufi poet.

This is the real story of the pain of love in plain poetic expressions that you never read in a romantic book or watch in a thrilling movie. It is moving to grasp the nature of a cultural habit that is vanishing in the face of the technical invasion.


In the happy night of heart light, Arab girls sing for secret love while hiding from their Mauritanian community’s eyes. It is the ritual of overwhelming love invading the ultimate sprit without daring to dream of seeing or touching the loved one that is depriving you from quiet sleeping in a desert of dreadful silence. The nomad girls and daughters of the moon start their night rhythm by creating their lyrics in open competition and fan conversation. Meeting in strategic open areas, they choose their favorite places in valleys, dunes, mountains or in a palm tree oasis. Natural beauty and nature’s pure elements are the moon girls’ best friends to trust with their sacred secret. Commencing the natural party, the group star leader sings the opening lines for the band members to repeat the song words collectively. In this exciting moment, they sing, dance, play traditional drums and clap hands with a lolling sound to the accompanying music. If there is no music, they invent their own, coming from a mixture of the beauty of the human voice and the whispers of nature wonders. They make their drums with their rough, tough hands that are used to serve both family and the entire community during the darkest days of domestic labor. 

Every one of the female circle sitting around the drum has to tell her poem that she is creating or memorizing from her favorite hearings. Then, she has to sing it as role distributions go on until the late hours …it could be 22 hours or midnight, there is no exact date or time in the desert culture. It is an authentic culture of oral traditions. Generally, there is no writing or reading in the rural communities but they are highly educated despite being illiterate. The chosen words reveal the secret of their education pattern. You have to memorize what you are hearing from your educational sources as writing and documentation are rare luxuries in their context. Any exception is a confirmation of the general rule in the land of oral traditions.


Romantically, nostalgic love’s sweetest verses are the favorite repeated themes of the moon girls who regularly celebrate their brightest night unless a calamity takes place in their neighborhood. The game rule says it is strictly forbidden to name your Aden love, even in the circle of your girls’ trusted bands. The name of the romantic lyrics is another secret to keep for life. Otherwise, the moon poet girls could lose their freedom of expression forever. They would be condemned by their families and communities. Emotionally, the love prince mentioned by indirect implication should never know that he is praised in the females’ poems of last light. If he gets such news that his charming, attractive persona is inspiring his neighborhood girls, he will rapidly change from spontaneous spirit into an arrogant personality to be avoided for his remaining living days. Singing lyrical rhythm of the poetic night continues until they get sleepy. The departure indicator is physical exhaustion. Sleeping in the open white or black tents is the only available remedy. The tents of the girls are open from all directions but their minds are closed to community desires of social norms.

Platonic, happy and symbolic codifications are the main characteristics of Mauritanian female poets. It is shameful in social traditions to be known as a poet praising her love using her own lyrics. The poem is her psychological release to express painful emotions when she is waking up late, feeling lonely, suffering from invisible love or the shock of oblivion in a silent desert. The night female lyrics should go to the public domain as unidentifiable recitations. The girls are only allowed to see the images of their secret love prince in the nightly superficial dreams.

For example, here are some lines of female lyrics that lack the resilient musicality which is lost in translation from Arabic into English. This fault is mine, not the female writers. "It is not possible to hate the blue in dry years." “It’s obvious to love green beauty especially in dry seasons.” The following examples are simplified to economize on space and reduce redundant explanations:

"Be patient my soul, rejoice in pain"

"I would love you to breathe the breeze"

"As his teeth are brushed, no army can push me from his smiling lips"

 "How to forget him, he is living in my eyes"

"His smile revives even dead bones"

“Unreturned night to remember my secret love baby

"I have to repeat all prayers as I recall my love in my many prayers”

“Mine travelled West, Lord saves all travelers who go West"

"My soul never forgets his words of evening whispers"

The Sufi poet, Mahmoud Shabestari, has written his mystic rhythm in 1311 texts entitled The Secret Rose Garden.  The moon poet girls chanted with golden voices for free love to come in their secret love universe. The Mauritanian, creative, late- French pen Habibe Mahfoud, wrote that in his country “time does not advance and love never returns. If time advances, love will never go away.”

In a word, we are all moons with the darkest character to turn into the brightest values. As the great American author Mark Twain put it, “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” 


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