Monday, January 27, 2014

Map of Africa If Never Colonized or Only Europeans Are Foreigners and Colonizers

Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon has made a popular map which purports to show Africa today as if it were "never colonized".  The map is making waves on the internet and was even noticed by the Washington Post.

Why are the most beautiful maps maps of lies? Click to enlarge.
The map looks pretty but much like the Native American nations name map, it is a map of lies.  Ignoring the fact it uses the European model of nation-states instead of African tribal zones or empires, my big problem is what is considered colonization.

Northern Africa is shown to be divided amongst Islamic states with Arabic names.  I am sure the native Copts, Berbers, and Africans of European descent such as the Roman African Christian community would certainly state the Arabs conquered and colonized the region.  Sicily and Spain were certainly more in a Mediterranean and European realm vice African before the Arabs came.  Also, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) was uninhabited before Europeans arrived.  Finally, a Swahili realm shown on the map would not exist without the presence of Arabs, which in part resulted in Oman's colonization of Africa.

Much like claiming all Americans are descendants of immigrants except for American Indians, this map advances and lie myth.  For some reason colonization and empire only exists in a European sense.  It is assumed everyone else lived in a magical no-place where wars are minimal and the cultural landscape does not change.  This legacy of racism reduces none Europeans to an innocent, Eden-like race.  It is time for geographers and the public to grow up.


Andrew said...

A question and an observation:
First, what Americans are neither descended from immigrants nor American Indians?
Second, this map ignores the Bantu expansion and colonization out of west coastal Africa. Why isn't there a Khoisan empire across the south of Africa?

Catholicgauze said...

1) None. All Americans are descended from immigrants. Paleo-Indians came over from Asia (though there is some evidence some with X Haplo. DNA came over from Europe).
2) Because it is a bad map.