This map has been running around Twitter this week. I finally got a minute to look behind the scenes of how it came about. I thought it was worth sharing some interesting information and links to discussion that the map has generated online.

Nikolah Cyon is the Swedish artist who worked on the project.

  1. Here’s a short blog post about the genesis of the map
  2. He has also provided a prezi walk through of the behind the scenes
  3. Rachel Strohm provides some intellectual gravitas to the discourse surrounding the map, including some thought-provoking questions, as usual. The comments to her post are worth reading. Aside: love her blogging style!
  4. Finally, if your your intellectual muscle hasn’t been flexed enough, head over to the Reddit discussion thread. I learned three things I didn’t previously know within the first 5 comments. Be warned, you might spend hours reading the comments. While most are inane, they are well-balanced by articulately reasoned input.

As for my own thoughts, I am not really sure it does any good to go down revisionist row and lament what could have been. I’d much prefer spending my energy on what can be. Although it could be argued that humanity only forges forward on a foundation established by the past. However in this case, Africa’s future can’t manifest itself based on postcolonial framework. In order to move forward, we have to be willing to accept the past as it is, close that door, and get to the work of building anew.

Today’s Africa inherited artificial borders, that even now, are causing problems for economic development. One of the best ways for us to build Africa in our own image is to begin breaking down these inherited artificial barriers. I like the progress being made with regional trade blocks like the East African Community(EAC). By unifying systems regionally and allowing frictionless travel, we are beginning to re-integrate and make whole.

It is going to be a long road for a new pan-Africa, but I think it smartly begins with regional blocks successfully integrating before the true identity of the continent becomes clear. I really doubt it’ll be organized as this map would suggest. That’s truly an alternate universe.