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VOA Reporter Helps ‘Put South Sudan on the Map’

VOA journalist John Tanza Mabusu
VOA journalist John Tanza Mabusu

John Tanza Mabusu launched an online petition after top Internet map sites failed to show newly independent South Sudan as a separate nation.

Voice of America reporter John Tanza Mabusu is getting credit for successfully pushing the world’s largest online map sites to recognize the new Republic of South Sudan, which gained independence more than two months ago, but is still not shown on most maps.

“When South Sudan was declared an independent nation, we were all excited,” says Tanza. So, he was surprised when online sites didn’t quickly update their maps to reflect the emergence of the new nation on July 9th.

Tanza, a native of South Sudan who works for the VOA program, South Sudan in Focus, decided to launch an online petition calling on Google maps, Microsoft and other sites to make the change and show South Sudan as a separate nation from its neighbor to the north.

The petition, which he organized in his private time, caught the attention of Google Maps. The site, which said it had already been gathering data for the change, promptly placed South Sudan on its map. “I don’t want to make a big deal of this,” Tanza told one of his VOA colleagues, “Nation building is a long process, and there are the small steps you need to achieve on an individual basis.”

Tanza, who has reported extensively on the country’s long struggle for independence, has now been recognized by a number of media organizations, which credit him with ‘Putting South Sudan on the map.’

He says the attention has helped get the maps changed, but he gives the credit to those who took the time to join the campaign. “I have been receiving congratulatory messages for taking this initiative. But the truth is, I need to thank them for signing the petition,” Tanza says. And he says he’s optimistic that all the mapping services will soon make the change.