Ever wondered as to why does Africa have most of its international boundaries as straight lines? Well, as an accident of history that was deliberately heaped on Africa, the European colonial powers used scale and rulers to carve out territories for themselves during the infamous Berlin conference of 1885. This sinister move which earned the sobriquet of ‘Scramble for Africa’ in history not only brought rival tribes in the same national domain but segregated national groupings in different political landscape. As a result these lines have not only divided tribes and communities but have also caused internecine warfare in Africa killing millions of people. The European quest for exploiting the resources of Africa, gifted the region with blood and bullets that has ever since kept the countries in the region perpetually at odds against each other. The result of such quixoticism has been that, Eritrea and Ethiopia have been at war against each other while the Somali population has been splattered across different countries fuelling tension and war.
The legacy doesn’t end here rather the political bigotry that has led to creation of artificial international boundaries have led to severe repercussions elsewhere as well. The 38th parallel that divided the Korean Peninsula into warring North and South was the creation of the infamous Korean War. Even before the ceasefire in 1953, the line separated the Soviet and the American controlled sector after the World War-II. The 4 km wide demilitarised zone that separates the North and the South came after the conflict between the sponsors (US and the Soviets) that claimed more than 3 million lives. Even now this artificially created boundary has separated families for more than a generation bringing unimaginable human tragedy. The Indian sub-continent too witnessed British insensitivity during its partition. The Radcliffe line that carved out Pakistan from India was notorious in its secrecy. It led to communal holocaust that claimed almost a million lives during India’s partition. Similarly, the American geo-political moves to prevent Dominoes effect in South East Asia again rested on dividing Vietnam till eternity. The subsequent Vietnam war till 1975 (US army evacuation year after their defeat) notably claimed almost 4 million lives.
The lessons have been far from learnt as the US meddling in Iraq and elsewhere exhibit. In the mad rush for claiming resources and geo-political dominance, human lives continue to be the casualty. Artificially created international boundaries have, in this light, remained soaked in human blood. These straight lines might be a cartographer’s delight but are historical bloodied nightmares.