Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Migingo Spat

April 24th, 2009 · 2 Comments

To the untrained eye, Migingo Island appears to be no great shakes. It covers just a half-acre’s worth of Lake Victoria, and it’s covered with the tin shacks of fishermen. Yet Kenya and Uganda both covet the ramshackle rock, leading to a border row that threatens to lead to outright war. Ugandan marines overtook the island in late February, an act that has led to nationalist rioting in the slums of Nairobi. Now Rwanda’s president is trying to intervene and prevent further turmoil.

Ugandan and Kenyan surveyors are ostensibly doing their best to sort out the mess—in London, where the best colonial maps still reside. Yes, the arbitrary borders drawn by Oxbridge adventurers over a century ago still matter, down to a fraction of an inch. Since we’re huge cartography nerds, Microkhan would love to take a peek at the decisive maps, presumably locked up in some musty archives. Though we acknowledge that whatever those maps might show, the “loser” in this dispute will likely contest the depiction as inaccurate.

More on the Migingo controversy here, including a strange Ugandan claim that the island was submerged until 2004. What Microkhan has yet to determine, alas, is why Uganda is so intent on owning this half-acre boulder. Anyone?


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Ian

    This seems a lot like the Dokdo/Takeshima rocks dispute between Korea and Japan, which has resulted in schoolchildren learning nationalist songs about unihabitable rocks. People who want to fight will find things to fight about, I think.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Ian: Now I’m desperate to track down some good Dokdo-related songs. Big fan (ironically) of overtly jingoistic music.