Remapping Africa

The recent referendum in South Sudan has highlighted the agenda’s of Africa’s separatist movements – the numerous organizations actively fighting for national “freedom” on the continent. Contested areas include Biafra in the southeast of Nigeria, Casamance in the south of Senegal, Cabinda to the north of Angola, the Western Sahara, Mthwakazi in Zimbabwe’s Ndebele-speaking provinces and many more.

Africa’s borders are again the subject of fierce debate.

But as theorist Achille Mbembe points out, these borders are already influx: “Over the past two centuries the visible, material, and symbolic boundaries of Africa have constantly expanded and contracted. The structural character of this instability has helped change the territorial body of the continent. New forms of territoriality and unexpected forms of locality have appeared. Their limits do not necessarily intersect with the official limits, norms, or language of states. New internal and external actors, organized into networks and nuclei, claim rights over these territories, often by force. Other ways of imagining space and territory are developing.” (Mbembe – At the Edge of the World – Boundaries, Territoriality, and Sovereignty in Africa)

We remap Africa’s borders based on a “nascent geography” which is composed of virtual, potential, and real limits.

This is both an exercise in reimagining and interpreting the continent and in re-imaging mapping – an attempt at new cartographies and re-presentations that better account of the complex spatial, temporal, political, economic and cultural relations at play.

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