If we want to get to
know Walata we must not ignore its social structure. All the towns
of El Hawd are powerfully hierarchical and this city is no exception.
All the families are grouped by kinship in different tribes
or 'qaba'il', which in turn form a hierarchical pyramid
in which men and women find their place according to their social
and economic standing: traders, herdsmen, scholars, hunters...
Historically, traditional Walata society was divided into free
men (ahrar), traders, herdsmen and intellectuals, and their slaves,
whose descendants, the harratin, make up approximately two thirds
of Walata's current population.
Some of the most important
of the city's tribes or qaba'il are the Surafa, considered
direct descendants of the prophet Mohamed and therefore
the highest-ranking nobles, and the Al-Amhayib, who claim to be
the city's founders. Also to be found in Walata society are the
Awlad Dawud, Awlad Nasir, Nemadi and Kunta, one of the chief confederations
in the Western Sahara.