‘I started the shop in 1979,’ Vall explains. ‘Thirty five years ago.’ A short man with cropped grey hair, he seems much younger. Vall was born in Nema, far in the east of the country. ‘At that time, it took six days to travel to the capital,’ he says. Like so many others fleeing the drought and hardships of the countryside, Vall settled in Nouakchott. With a steady supply of music from Mali and Senegal, he built the Saphire D’Or.
‘I picked the name after the most beautiful thing, which is gold, naturally.’ Deejaying at soirées throughout the capital, Vall lists a number of the hotels and nightclubs where the Mauritanian youth partied late into the night: the Chinguetti, the Palmeri, the Maision de Jeune. Most of them no longer exist, torn down, paved over, and replaced.
Over the years, as vinyl faded into obscurity and Nouakchott’s old residents cast out their record collections, Vall was here to absorb them. ‘All the vinyl records that were in Mauritania, I pretty much have them here,’ he laughs. He began to sell dubbed cassettes. Customers could come in, browse the records and make their choice.
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