Nigeria in Maps: Maps as Political Food for Thought
Name: Olusegun Osifuye
Lives in: Lagos, Nigeria
Country of origin: Nigeria
Period in Germany: from 2012 to 2014
Education and research institution: Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences
Occupation: GIS data analyst
Olusegun Osifuye could write long articles or hold rousing speeches to draw attention to the political and social abuses in his home country of Nigeria. Instead, he raises his voice in quite a different way, and in so doing has already achieved great things: he publishes thematic maps on the Internet and disseminates them via social media.
For example, on International Women's Day on 8 March 2016, he drew up a map of Nigeria on which the districts governed by male or female senators were coloured blue or red respectively. The seven districts governed by women looked like small, lonely islands on the map. No additional words were needed; the message was clear: “The country needs more women decision-makers!” One woman senator retweeted the map, encouraging women to engage in politics. For Olusegun Osifuye, that was a huge success.
“People’s attention span is short”
He launched his Nigeria in Maps project in February 2016. “I felt an urgent need to raise people’s awareness about the problems in my country – in a visual and appealing way,” he says, adding: “Nigeria in Maps presents complex issues in a simple way on maps, offering a good basis for social discussion. One map says more than a thousand words.”
Nigeria in Maps: maps on many different issues
But the 31-year-old does not intend passing over words altogether – he has invented “mapicles”, articles providing additional information about the maps. For example, Olusegun Osifuye supplemented a map showing the number and location of traffic fatalities in Nigeria in 2015 with the question of what political action could be taken to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents. Also in his mapicle, he explains that if data on the exact locations and causes of the accidents are made available and analysed, this could help significantly reduce the number of fatalities.
As for Olusegun Osifuye himself, the greatest challenge is getting hold of data. For many issues reliable sources are lacking, while for others he has the laborious task of editing the data to be able to present it in an eye-catching way on a map. Even so, the qualified geographer can guarantee that every map published is based on verifiable data – and it goes without saying that he always states his sources.
Olusegun Osifuye was a geography fan even as a child, and went on to study the subject at the University of Lagos. He completed a Master’s Degree in Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics at Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences. He works as a GIS data analyst in Lagos. In March 2018, the Nigeria in Maps project was nominated as a finalist in the UN SDG Action Awards at the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development.
“The maps stimulate public interest, conversation and discussion”
Olusegun Osifuye also hopes that his maps will help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. He is convinced that global change has to take place locally to a large extent. “My maps show exactly where something is happening and enable the observer to draw a direct relation with his or her own location.”
For the future of Nigeria in Maps, Olusegun Osifuye has further projects lined up: “I’d like to collect far more data and find new data sources to be able to publish more maps – and in the near future to include interactive ones. And I also hope that other countries will use my approach.”
Nigeria in Maps
Where did attacks by Boko Haram take place in 2015? How indebted are Nigeria’s federal states? And where in Nigeria do the most traffic accidents occur? Olusegun Osifuye publishes his maps on nigeriainmaps.com, Facebook and Twitter.
Are you a fan of thematic maps and want to share your experiences or even create similar map content for your country? Olusegun Osifuye looks forward to hearing from you at info(at)nigeriainmaps.com!