Like many Sub-Saharan African countries, the traditional religion in Mauritania is animism. It is based on the belief that every natural creation, be it a human being, an animal, a tree, a rock or a river, has a soul. For animists, drought, disease and hunger are the consequences of a major wrong that has been committed. Although most Mauritanians are Muslim, ancestral animistic practices can still be plainly seen in the country.
The customs and traditions may be age-old but they are still part of everyday life in rituals like greeting someone and eating. The tea ceremony is a particularly important element in the daily life of the Mauritanians. If you refuse the invitation or wish to leave after just one cup you will probably upset your host. Mauritanians are very hospitable and it isn't rare for them to invite strangers into their homes to drink a cup of tea, enjoy a meal or even sleep.