Friday, August 1, 2008

Where’s Mali?!

What the &%$*?

I can’t believe I am reading a book that forgot an entire country in its “AFRICA: 2005” map. No kidding!

I went to Barnes and Noble before I left for Cameroon, in order to buy the fattest “History of Africa” book I could find. I was counting on such a purchase to keep me oriented on this continent and history-savvy for the next 2+ years! So I thought I’d done the trick when I came home with Martin Meredith’s Fate of Africa, all 688 indexed post-independence pages worth of it. Not so!

Fast forward to last night, sitting on my bed in Banganté, Cameroon. I was getting my usual about-to-start-a-new-book giddy excitement, perusing the forward of Fate of Africa, when I lingered over the map section. I love maps. But as I’m looking at the map, I think, hmmm, fishy, Mauritania is not that big! Wait, where is Mali?!?!?!

If this book hadn’t received gushy reviews from the Financial Times, New York Times, Boston Globe, and Wall Street Journal, I would have just assumed, “Maaaaaaaan, I got duped!! Sucker for spending $20 on a book that can’t even get its maps right!” But I really can’t believe that ANYONE could leave an entire country off the continental map, that such a book could arrive to press, and then actually sell under any guise of credibility!! How am I supposed to trust anything this book says? You better believe nobody leaves your generic European country off a map without getting blasted for it by all types of media.

The I’m-not-lying proof. Yep, Mali typically falls between Senegal and Niger. Sadly, looks like Mauritania subsumed it/ate it for dinner.

And that, my friends, was your African geography lesson of the day!


Kate Fleurange


Julie said...

I hope you write to the publisher and to the book store. That's totally ridiculous.

Sylvie said...

That's hilarious! And terrible. Can't wait to share with the MIT!! (do you remember us?) Thanks for all your great stories. Makes me want to do Peace Corps all over again...