Jonglei State in South Sudan, and Pibor in particular have been in the news recently due to a series of cattle raids between ethnic groups. The UN has recently stepped in as mediator in this centuries-old conflict between the Murle and the Dinka and Lou Nuer in the south-eastern corner of the world's newest nation.
One of my undergraduate mentors spent over a decade in this area in between civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s and has written several books and articles on various topics pertaining to the region. He is currently working on the true story of the regional District Commissioner for the British who, when Italy entered World War II in 1941, put together a group of Sudanese men to harass the Italian occupiers of Abyssinia.
Anyway, I promised to see what I could do toward putting a simple map together to illustrate the spatial relationships described in the book. This evening, a friend and fellow geographer (cartographer, actually) suggested that I try out www.indiemapper.com to see if it would fit the bill. It's actually a pretty simple program that allows the input of KML files (that I developed in GoogleEarth) to do some basic graphic editing of colors, shapes, and fonts. The result is a pretty basic product that is simpler and more visually appealing than many others I've used.
I used the Mercator Projection, which preserves shape and distance along the Equator well. There are lots of limitations to IndieMapper though, for example, since the basemap is global, there is no mechanism for automatically inputing a scale bar (such a feature would be wildly inaccurate at high and low latitudes), so I resorted to measuring a 50 km straight line in GoogleEarth on top of an area that was blank on my map. I then converted it to a KML file, imported it to IndieMapper, and added an annotation with the text "Scale Bar 50 km" below the line on my map.
Addition: I've also noticed that IndieMapper's basemaps all cede the Ilemi Triangle, a contested border region claimed by both South Sudan and Kenya, to Kenya. This is just another reminder that map-making is an inherently political endeavor and that maps themselves are social constructions.
"Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first."
~Friedrich Engels, The Part Played by
Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man
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