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lost afrofutures

I still haven't found it. But searches for one treasure often lead to other, unexpected finds. On a friend's extensive bookshelves I came across a book of which I had vaguely heard, but never seen: Atlantropa, by Herman Sörgel, a German writer from the 1930s - I know, but bear with me: he was no fascist - who had the extraordinary idea of damming the Mediterranean in order to change the relationship between Europe and Africa, two continents which he was convinced had a common destiny. Forget alliances with the US, or some idea of Eurasia - for Suorge, it was Africa that was the future for Europe. The dams - one in the straits of Gibraltar, and another further to the east, would have brought down the levels of the sea by 100 and 200 metres respectively. As well as producing enormous qualities of hydroelectric power for both Africa and Europe, a lot of new land to all sides of the sea and, through the additional building of canals, the greening of the Sahara, the realisation of this plan would have linked the two continents by land. The Mediterranean would have been a place of connectivity rather than the death trap of a border it has now become.

Atlantropa was intended as a pragmatic solution to what Sörgel imagined would be Europe's future overcrowding - its people would need to spread into Africa, he thought. It was also a way of ensuring European economic prosperity, by bringing together Africa's raw materials with northern technology. It was a paternalistic, self-interested plan, but still: what a thought! And when I think of the bodies in the sea, the ongoing exploitation and the debilitating poverty in which so many Africans now live, it's hard to imagine that relations between Europe and Africa could be much worse than they are today.


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