Sudan, once Africa’s largest country, gained independence in 1956. It has been breaking apart, in one way or another, almost every day since. This summer, the two largest parts of the country finally split for good. After decades of bloody civil war, South Sudan became its own nation on July 9. Recognition for the fledgling oil giant was swift, at least in some circles. The United Nations and the African Union accepted South Sudan’s membership without delay. But another, arguably equally powerful body, lagged a little behind. For months after independence, South Sudan remained a non-entity on Google Maps. Other online cartographers, including Yahoo and Bing, also ignored the new state.
Those slights didn’t sit well with John Tanza Mabusu, a South Sudanese native who works as a journalist in Washington. This summer, Mabusu started an online petition to try to pressure the digital firms into recognizing his homeland. “My people of South Sudan have endured 50 years of bitter conflict,” Mabusu wrote. Google, for one, responded swiftly. By late September, South Sudan was appearing on its eponymous site. The other tech giants, though, have yet to recognize the change. But after waiting decades for a country, one imagines the people of South Sudan can live with a little online lag.