North-South connectivity

The BBC‘s coverage of the proposed undersea tunnel linking the Spanish and Moroccan sides of the Straights of Gibraltar is very much generalized into a linkage of “Africa” and “Europe.” I find this interesting for a few reasons. On the one hand, it shows that those reporting on the tunnel see it as not merely a Spanish enterprise but a pan-European one as well (it has the support of the EU). The European identity of the tunnel seems to be translated, in the coverage, to being apart of an African one as well, even though there is no comparable degree of unity (politically, economically, or otherwise) in Africa as there is in Europe. The characterization of Morocco as an agent of the continent’s fate — it would be the first time Africa and Europe were “united” in 200 million years, the BBC writes — is most likely an image the Moroccan monarchy would love to project outwards. The general and geological focus of the coverage masks Morocco’s aloofness from its continent, the result of geography and politics. The tunnel is potentially of great benefit to both countries. But its “African” impact is bound to be minimal, and surely will not be felt beyond the start of the Sahara. It will make tourism and some business transactions more facile. (Pure speculation tells me that ease will follow those coming from Spain more than those coming from Morocco.) It will be quite the symbol, though, a peaceful physical connection built by entities that have conquered each other back and forth for so many centuries.


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