New blogs

Leherensuge was replaced in October 2010 by two new blogs: For what they were... we are and For what we are... they will be. Check them out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Supersaharan Africa

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

Sub (Wikitionary):


From the Latin sub, meaning under



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


Derived terms

* Sub-Saharan
* subtropical


* super-


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.


From the Latin super



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



* 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?


Manju Edangam 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. :)