Thursday, January 06, 2011

The New Nation of Bob?

At about midday today I found myself wondering what the new nation carved out of southern Sudan is going to be called. That's the kind of thing that a longstanding fascination with political geography will make you think about. When I was young, I was so taken with our copy of Historical Atlas of the World and its maps that the book eventually fell apart. Sometime in the 1990s, I bought a reprint of it (which wasn't updated: the editorial cutoff remained about 1970) that I still peruse from time to time, for the sheer aesthetics, enough though the Internet offers the likes of this and this and much more.

I'm fairly good at dating old globes, too, a skill I wish paid something. There are plenty of giveaways. If I didn't know the globe we have around the house was almost new when I bought it in the late '90s, I'd know it was post-Eritrean independence (1993) but pre-Nanavut (1999). More exactly, Hong Kong has no colonial designation on it, but Macao still says "Port." So that pins the globe down to between the handing over of HK on July 1, 1997, and the creation of Nanavut on April 1, 1999 (Macao was Portuguese until December 20, 1999).

I keep a couple of older globes out in our garage -- who could stand throwing away a globe? -- including one made after the reunification of Germany but before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a fairly tight window from late 1990 through 1991. The other one is older: it still has a divided Vietnam, and Angola and Mozambique as "Port." (both pre-1975) but also East Pakistan, which would put it pre-1971. But that globe, a lovely 12-inch "Land and Sea" Replogle, isn't old enough to include the likes of French West Africa. Closing the window a little further, it does sport Afars & Issas, which had been French Somaliland until 1967 (and became independent Djibouti in 1977).

A favorite of mine to find on an old globe -- and I have seen it, though I don't own one -- is the Central African Empire (1976-79), created by one Jean-Bédel Bokassa, or Emperor Bokassa I, who apparently decided that being a tinpot president-for-life of the Central African Republic wasn't grand enough. Wiki tells me that his full title was Empereur de Centrafrique par la volonté du peuple Centrafricain, uni au sein du parti politique national, le MESAN ("Emperor of Central Africa by the will of the Central African people, united within the national political party, the MESAN").

The reason southern Sudan came to mind is that I heard part of a radio show discussing the southern Sudanese independence vote. They didn't say anything about the name. The information on the official web site of the government of Southern Sudan (GOSS, which sounds like an organization trying to kill James Bond) makes me think it will be "Southern Sudan." I suppose it's their business, but couldn't they come up with something more interesting? "Equitoria" is still kicking around. Or maybe "Bob."

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At 7:49 PM, Blogger Geof Huth said...

I'll vote for Equitoria.

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob's your uncle.


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