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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Supersaharan Africa


I am tired of reading Subsaharan Africa. It is racist.


Sub (Wikitionary):

Etymology

From the Latin sub, meaning under

Prefix

sub-

1. under, beneath (examples: subterranean, submarine)
2. subsidiary, secondary (example: subplot)
3. almost, nearly (example: subhuman)

(...)

Derived terms

* Sub-Saharan
* subtropical

Antonyms

* super-

So?

Under the Sahara: water, oil, gas, rocks? But not Black Africa.

Subsidiary or secondary Sahara? Almost, nearly Saharan? Make no sense... unless you are using it like subhuman.

It is all based on a caprice, the Eurocentric convention that places the north on top in most maps. But defining a huge region of the world based on that is stupid and never has happened before. A much more correct term (always from the Eurocentric position) would be Ultrasaharan (beyond the Sahara), Transaharan (beyond or across the Sahara, like in transaharan caravan or transatlantic cruise but also like Transalpine Gaul) or (less Eurocentrically) Sudsaharan (with d): south of the Sahara. Tropical Africa is also somewhat valid but excludes parts of Southern Africa.

I normally use Sudsaharan Africa, that is easily understood, or simply Black Africa, that is much more historical and has not the dismissive connotation of sub.

But while the world becomes aware, I may well use the term Supersaharan Africa, just to make a point.

Super:

Etymology

From the Latin super

Prefix

super-

1. above, over, or upon
2. superior in size, quality, number, degree, status, title, or position
3. inclusive

(...)

Antonyms

* sub-

After all placing the North on top of the maps is nothing but a cartographic convention:



Supersaharan Africa
Peters (equal area) projection



What about you?

If not you, who? If not now, when?

2 comments:

Manjunat said...

South Saharan Africa.

Maju said...

Unsure. It sounds more like the Southern Sahara, the classical Sudan.

If Romans would have used the term Africa for the continent (they called it Lybia actually, Africa was Tunisia then) they would have said Africa Transahariana (Transaharan Africa) or Africa Ulterior (Far Africa). It would be Eurocentric but not dismissive.

For more PC terms, Tropical Africa is surely the best one, even if it excludes South Africa (and maybe Botswana).

Supersaharan is just to make a point. It is as valid as subsaharan, and equally nonsensical. :)