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Articles in Sub-Saharan Africa

Religion in Africa; Agriculture in California

By Martin W. Lewis | October 25, 2010 |

Geocurrents is not usually concerned with touting books or other websites, although requests for such consideration to do come frequently. But some works are so geographically impressive that they do deserve special mention. As a result, today’s posting will consider one website, Eugene Adogla’s Religiously Remapped: Mapping Religious Trends in Africa, and one book

The Guinness Phenomenon in Nigeria and Cameroon

By Martin W. Lewis | August 6, 2010 | 4 Comments

Nigeria and Cameroon may have their differences, but they share a passion for Guinness Stout. Guinness ships out unfermented wort extract from Dublin, but the beverage sold in Africa is brewed on the continent, and has been for decades. While Guinness sells strongly throughout West Africa, it is wildly popular in Nigeria and Cameroon

Border Delineation and Desiccation in Lake Chad

By Martin W. Lewis | August 5, 2010 |

Unrest in the Bakassi Peninsula should not blind us to the fact that the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments have peaceably settled a long-standing dispute that once threatened to break into war. With UN help, the two countries are setting up 3,000 pillars to demarcate their border, a process that is scheduled to be completed

The Bakassi Peninsula’s Declaration of Independence

By Martin W. Lewis | August 3, 2010 | 2 Comments

The movement for an independent western Cameroon, discussed yesterday, is peaceful, legalistic, and generally ignored. Within the purported territory of Ambazonia, however, lies a much smaller but more militant and consequential self-declared state. The would-be Democratic Republic of Bakassi covers a 250-square-mile (665 square kilometers) swampy peninsula, inhabited by 150,000 to 300,000 people. It lies

The Self-Declared Republic of Ambazonia

By Martin W. Lewis | August 2, 2010 | 3 Comments

Most borders in sub-Saharan Africa were drawn by European imperial powers who were blithely ignorant of preexisting polities and oblivious to ethnic divisions. The resulting mismatch between the political map and the cultural map has fueled many a separatist movement, yet the status quo remains sacrosanct. The

Richard Francis Burton, Harar, and Hyenas

By Martin W. Lewis | May 20, 2010 |

In 1854, having recently gained fame from his pilgrimage to Mecca, Richard Francis Burton first entered the territory of what is now Somaliland. Burton’s destination was the city of Harar, located in what is now Ethiopia, but then an independent emirate. Harar was a challenge that Burton could not

Richard Francis Burton and the Somaliland Shilling

By Martin W. Lewis | May 19, 2010 |

As a de facto sovereign state, Somaliland has its own currency, the Somaliland shilling. As is true elsewhere, the images on its coins and banknotes convey symbolic messages about the country. Somaliland’s bills, for example, depict both its sovereignty (showing its supreme court and central bank) and its pastoral heritage (with figures of sheep, goats

Somaliland’s Sovereignty and the Pandora Thesis

By Martin W. Lewis | May 18, 2010 | 3 Comments

Those opposed to diplomatic recognition of Somaliland often warn that violent secession movements could break out in other countries if separatist leaders see the possibility of gaining international legitimacy. The frequently deployed Pandora’s Box metaphor attributes substantial powers to diplomatic actions: by withholding

Puntland: Not in the Land of Punt

By Martin W. Lewis | May 17, 2010 | 9 Comments

By naming their state “Puntland,” the leaders of autonomous northeastern Somalia evoke a storied history. The Land of Punt was a key trading partner of ancient Egypt from roughly 2,500 BCE to 1000 BCE. Punt provided rare goods for the Egyptian elite, including aromatic gums (especially myrrh and frankincense), gold, ivory, and wild animals.

Somaliland Vs. Puntland

By Martin W. Lewis | May 13, 2010 | 7 Comments

Somaliland’s lack of international acknowledgment is a frustration, but it poses no threat to the breakaway state. Similarly, the fact that Somalia claims Somaliland means little, as Somalia’s official government cannot even control Mogadishu. Somaliland’s security is enhanced by its good relations with its bordering countries, Djibouti and Ethiopia. But Somaliland does face external

Somaliland’s Quest for Recognition

By Martin W. Lewis | May 12, 2010 | 8 Comments

Although Somaliland is well governed when contrasted with the rest of Somalia, all is not well in the breakaway republic. On May 4, 2010, StrategyPage warned that “Somaliland is sliding towards civil war.” Such an assessment may be unduly harsh, but Somaliland’s much-touted democracy did lose some credibility recently when a government-run radio station linked

Tourism in Somalia?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 11, 2010 | 4 Comments

Anarchic and war-racked Somalia is not a likely tourist destination. A 2004 article in The Economist described Somalia’s Minister of Tourism as having “perhaps the world’s hardest job, but very little to do.” The country “had not had a single acknowledged tourist in 14 years,” despite the fact that, that “brave tourists can find unusual

The Oromo and the Unrecognized Nations and Peoples Organization

By Martin W. Lewis | March 26, 2010 |

The Kurds, who number some 30 million, are often describes as the world’s largest nation without a state of their own. They have also often been depicted as a “forgotten people,” generally overlooked by the global media. Yet the Oromo of Ethiopia and environs also number some 30 million, and they too have national aspiration

Sudan: Africa’s New Breadbasket?

By Martin W. Lewis | March 25, 2010 |

As yesterday’s post discussed, Ethiopia’s western lowlands have significant agricultural potential. The agricultural resources of neighboring Sudan, however, are much greater. Vast clay plains cover much of east-central and southern Sudan; although they are not easy to farm, their soils are fertile and they have abundant – often too abundant – supplies of water.

Gambella: Ethiopia’s Troubled Western Lowlands

By Martin W. Lewis | March 24, 2010 | One Comment

Ethiopia is well known as a plateau country. Its cultural and political core areas have always been in the highlands. But Ethiopia also includes extensive lowlands, a legacy of the imperial conquests in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ethnic conflicts plague much of Ethiopia’s lowland fringe, as do tensions with the central government

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