Extra Extra: The Middle East Has Taken Over North Africa

Extra Extra: The Middle East Has Taken Over North Africa

I love the show Jeopardy.  Today I caught the show and thought I heard a wrong answer.  Morocco and points east on the continent are part of the Middle East?  I immediately ran to my desk top computer as soon as final Jeopardy was over.  Was this on the news?  Had there been an earthquake of such major proportions that the entire northern half of Africa had migrated across the Mediterranean Sea AND shifted to the east by-passing Turkey (aiming to be part of the E.U.) to join Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Oman, Abu Dhabi,Syria, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran?  I couldn’t find anything on the news.  I tried searching maps on line.  Yep, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Algeria and Ethiopia were still firmly attached to the African continent.  I continued my search.  Surely Jeopardy couldn’t be wrong but even Wikipedia hadn’t plopped Morocco into the Middle East.

Buzzle.com offered a partial explanation of how Egypt has been labeled “transcontinental” i.e. Asia and Africa.  It’s because of the Sinai Peninsula.  I went to graduate school with an Egyptian.  In fact, he was our class president.  He emphatically believed Egypt was on the continent of Africa.  I guess he should know since he lived there most of his life.

This same conversation about Egypt came up when a friend’s daughter,then attending Whitney Young, was outraged because their geography teacher said Egypt was in the Middle East.  That statement prompted a call from the high school student to my daughter who at the time was at Harvard doing a PhD in multi-cultural studies.  There is no fury like a learned black woman at Harvard.  There was a series of telephone calls and emails between Harvard and Whitney Young which ended in a “corrected” geography lesson.

I again encountered this “annexation” of mostly non-darkly pigmented African cultures to mostly white or darn near white countries while traveling in Tunisia.  I had the delightful experience of touring with a bunch of pleasantly rowdy folk from the Canary Islands.  They liked to sing and drink,both they did very well.  They looked white but were adamant about being African.Canary Islands
They wanted no parts of being adopted by the Spanish.  The more they drank the more I heard about their desire to remain African by definition. We had a great time.  This brings me to something much closer to home, i.e. Bronzeville.

How in the heck did the “Bronzeville Children’s Museum” end up on 94th and Stony Island? Things that make you go hmmmm!  I have to consider the South Loop migrating farther to the south.  It’s really funny how those countries and neighborhoods move around.  Go to sleep one night and you live in Egypt on the continent of Africa.  You wake up in the Middle East.  Go to sleep in Bronzeville and wake up much farther south then you ever intended but it’s called Bronzeville.


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  • Surprised this didn't raise more discussion.

  • Northern Africa is part of the Middle East (or Near East, as it is now more frequently called in Academic circles, a nod to having absorbed Eastern Europe into the "Western world").

    Northern Africa has been part of the Middle East since the seventh century, when the rapidly expanding Islamic Empire made Northern Africa "Arabic," linguistically, culturally, religiously, and ethnically. Even before the Muslim expansion Northern Africans - culturally and ethnically - were better described as Mediterranean than African, as they had little in common with their sub-Saharan counterparts, separated by a giant desert.
    Morocco is still in Africa. As are Egypt and Libya. And yet they are VERY much "in the Middle East" as well. Your indignation fails to consider one key point: the Middle East is not one of the seven continents (as defined in American schools, parts of Europe teach five).
    Is not Mexico in both North America and Latin America?

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