Maps shape our view of the world. Recently, no map has done so more than the one showing that Africa = Europe + US + China + India.
As many of you reading this blog know, this map has been making the rounds for weeks (if not months). It has been posted on twitter and Facebook (including by Africa.com), and plastered across the blogosphere with generally rave reviews. Had you tried typing in Africa on Reddit a month ago, this map was the majority of posts about the continent. Without confirming authorship, a little digging points to the original here.
This particular map is significant for several reasons. For me, and maybe for you as well, it drums up a childhood love for geography. More importantly though, the powerful use of “relative geography” makes us rethink our original impression of the size of Africa. Underneath we all know Africa is large, but who would have put all those countries and continents inside its borders without needing to be first educated a bit? Not even those of us who have traveled to and studied Africa for years.
So what’s next? If I question my thinking on Africa’s size, it’s a small leap to questioning my other original impressions. Africa is developing quickly, more quickly than most regions in the world (go to the Finance section to see where Africa’s growth is making headlines). Africa has Arts and Culture in abundance – from the Cape Town Jazz Festival to hundreds of unique museums waiting to be found.
Maps have authority, especially on the wall of your 6th grade social studies room. Their accuracy is of paramount importance, and can powerfully shift our whole approach to a geography. Africa is rising. I can’t help the feeling that I have so much more ground to cover now …