Some feedback points on the Africa map

Blindbohemian

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What I hear you tell me is: West Africa should be colonized in every game, because it’s absurd, dumb, and even offensive to suggest that it could have unified to resist that. Fine, then. I’ll stop discussing it with you.
No. You have completely misunderstood.

There are two slightly separate conversations happening here. The first (and best) but also the least interesting is:
Rome called itself Rome even when they dominated half of Europe. Austrians called their nation Austrian Empire until issues in Hungary forced them to compromise.

Germans and Italians united under a new flag, yes, but they had national identity.

I fail to see as to why we need fantasy formables. Sokoto that somehow conquers half of Africa, if that's even a possible miracle, should be still Sokoto.
A fantasy formable in West Africa doesn't make sense. We have historical examples of countries that rose up and unified the part of West Africa you're talking about, and they went right on calling themselves Mali, Songhai, Ghana, Awkar, whatever. If Sokoto conquers West Africa it should remain Sokoto, ditto everyone else (Note: this is particularly true in Africa because of the particular structures of power there). Your suggestion that West Africa should get its own special formable is on par with the suggestion that Spain should get a "Western Europe" formable if it conquers France, Germany and Italy. It's just silly.

But, people love formables. And so I have pursued a second thread of conversation in a sort of rearguard action: I know that the best answer, as quoted above, will probably be ignored, so to limit the damage I have suggested what I think is a genuinely defensible way to implement a unified West African formable.

What I have said is that if West Africa unified, there are a finite (and quite small) number of ways that could conceivably have happened. Furthermore, any unified West African polity would face the same set of constraints and challenges and would have a small set of ways to respond. Those would be at least but not exhaustively:
  1. The challenge of having no or very diffuse natural geographic boundaries;
  2. The challenge of having no unified cultural identity upon which to found a nationalism;
  3. The challenge of ruling over extremely diverse cultures, any of which might foment their own nationalism;
  4. The challenge of astonishingly difficult terrain making communications and therefore administration and the internal exercise of power incredibly challenging.
I think that any proposed "unified West Africa" formable nation in Victoria 3 should reflect those challenges.

I do not think that "conquer the necessary provinces and form "West African Union" does reflect those challenges. It would be a historical nonsense shoehorned in to satisfy people who just want a thing to aim for without thinking too hard about it. I don't think that is good for the game—such additions have already ruined EUIV.

My suggestion is that, ordered to match the above:
  1. The natural geographic bounds of such a "unified West Africa" are the rainforests and highlands of Guinea (or I suppose the Gulf of Guinea, but this is exactly the problem: a "West Africa" formable should not include Guinea) to the south, the Atlantic to the west, the Sahara to the north and mumblemumble maybe Lake Chad to the east. It would be made up (very loosely) of the watershed of the Niger.
  2. The unifying cultural feature in such a state would be the river itself and their being the people of the river and/or the heirs of Timbuktu.
  3. Founding a nationalism on being the people of the river might (in the vein of the Young Turks efforts to generate an "Ottoman" identity) be a means to bring such diverse peoples together.
  4. The river would be the unifying communication channel and focus of such a realm.
Therefore, I suggest, a formable unified West Africa tag with some kind of verisimilitude and believability might be a state that names itself after the river for instance along the lines of Lajos Kussuth's proposal to transform the Austrian Empire into a Federation of the Danube.

In order to do that with any kind of credibility (because the lazy approach would be to just call it "Niger", but that's an external name for the river that wouldn't get international currency if West Africa resisted colonisation) we would need the tag to be named after whatever the river is called by the people who unify and speak the primary language of the hypothetical state.

So, I suggest, we should find out the name of the river in the languages of each potential unifying tag/culture and, depending who unifies it, that should be the tag's name. There are eighteen cultures in the region in EUIV (including Tuaregs and the Gulf of Guinea coast, which shouldn't be included), so that's eighteen names to find (there are twenty in Victoria 2). I've already listed ten after about twenty seconds on Google. Finding names in other languages as necessary would be Not Very Hard.

You have responded to the above suggestion with "well we can't expect devs to do all that work making all those different tags just for slightly different names" to which I observed that Paradox games have dynamic name/flag technology and it could just be one tag with a name and flag depending on the country which formed it.

You then responded with "well we can't expect devs to do all that research".

My answer to both "it would be a lot of work" and "it would be a lot of research" is yes. But it's necessary. If it's too much work or too much research to compellingly introduce an ahistorical formable with genuine verisimilitude, then it's too much work and research to implement a West Africa formable and they just shouldn't do it. Refer to the aforementioned best answer to the question; case closed.

What is absurd, dumb and even offensive is the suggestion that West Africa should have a formable and that formable should just be something bland and fantastical because the developers can't be expected to do the work and research necessary to make it compelling and convincing. In essence that is a suggestion that West Africa and its history exists to be a source of entertainment for players of video games (a formable! Fun!) but is not worthy of the time, effort and respect necessary to do the work and research that would make it compelling and convincing. We have seen exactly that way of thinking at work in EUIV with the implementation of Māori (and I'm sure others, but as a Māori that case is close to me) and I do not wish it on anyone else.

I am open to other suggestions for compelling ways to include a unified West African formable with verisimilitude and believability. There have been a couple in this thread:
I think Sudan would have been a good name for a pan-West African country (were it not for Sudan's meaning to migrate to the present country.)
I fail to see as to why we need fantasy formables. Sokoto that somehow conquers half of Africa, if that's even a possible miracle, should be still Sokoto.
I definitely wouldn't be opposed (in fact I think it'd be some really nice flavour) to a Mali or Ghana tag for example
Your suggestion, so far, is that such state is essentially just called "West Africa".
“The West African Caliphate” is completely self-explanatory (and can easily become the People’s Republic of West Africa or whatever it needs to), but doesn’t have much flavor.
This is lazy, ignorant and, for reasons outlined above, offensive. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is a plethora of potential formable tags based on the genuine well-researched geopolitical aims of polities in the region and 1 is just not adding a formable at all, a formable "West Africa" would be around about -3.

Just to further emphasise my point:

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 2.47.59 PM.png


I'll support a "West Africa" formable when we get a formable "Europe".

I hope this makes my position clear.
 
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Lorehead

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You then responded with "well we can't expect devs to do all that research".
No, I absolutely did not. That’s a fabrication. I never said that, nor do I believe anything like it. I’d certainly never write anything that semiliterate.

You make a lot of other points that would be worth discussing with a reasonable person. As it is, it’s not worth going over my ideas for economic and historical decisions for West Africa with someone who reacts this badly to my not liking your proposed name. That was not because I am against doing research.

You also completely failed to understand the position you think you’re arguing against. For the record: I thought a formable Caliphate tag would be a good idea because there are multiple jihadi kingdoms at the starting date that could all potentially conquer West Africa, and the state I had in mind would have been based primarily on religion, not ethnicity. I don’t see how an ethno-state could be viable, given the gameplay mechanics.

It’s not worth arguing with you any further, though. I just wanted to set the record straight that I do not hold the views you are attributing to me. Good-bye.
 
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Blindbohemian

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No, I absolutely did not. That’s a fabrication.
Perhaps I misread?
It’s asking a lot of the Devs to make that many tags and flags that are basically identical but for the primary culture... Better to make one West African unifier tag, with a few different name and flag options, and add some unique content for it.
Seemed to me to be resistant to the idea of asking a lot of the Devs [sic], and in that context—
It would be nice to research a different endonym and flag for every possible primary culture that can do a West African unification, but at that point, what I think you want is for the unifier to keep their own name, flag and national identity.
—appeared to tacitly suggest, as is typical sardonic usage of “it would be nice...“ in my part of the world, that while in a world of rainbows and unicorns something might be possible, such would be asking a lot of the devs.
someone who reacts this badly to my not liking your proposed name.
I’m more than happy to abandon my proposal if it’s not a good suggestion. As I’ve observed, “Sudan” and even potentially “Mali” or “Ghana” could be perfectly viable names (I don’t at this point think they are good names, but I am open to being convinced otherwise). You, however, haven’t suggested a remotely credible weakness of my proposal and quite to the contrary have given a strong impression of illustrating exactly the problem with advocating a West African formable nation of any description, jihadi or otherwise.
I thought a formable Caliphate tag would be a good idea because there are multiple jihadi kingdoms at the starting date that could all potentially conquer West Africa, and the state I had in mind would have been based primarily on religion, not ethnicity.
And why would a jihadi kingdom, named, say, after its centrepiece city, that conquered a vast swathe of West Africa, not just go right on calling itself, for example, Sokoto?
 
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Darsara

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No, it says Sudan, which was a normal period-appropriate name for this geographic region :)

I think they were using your post as an example of a better suggestion then just calling it West Africa, along with "No Formable" or "Historical Legacy Name Formable" but I'm not them, and I can't be certain.
 
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Pressburger

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I think they were using your post as an example of a better suggestion then just calling it West Africa, along with "No Formable" or "Historical Legacy Name Formable" but I'm not them, and I can't be certain.
If that's the case, then I suppose I used the wrong tone, apologies
 

Lorehead

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I think they were using your post as an example of a better suggestion then just calling it West Africa, along with "No Formable" or "Historical Legacy Name Formable" but I'm not them, and I can't be certain.
If “they” liked my suggestion, “that they would have seen themselves as the resurrection of a great empire of the past,” it would be nice if they acknowledged that it was me who said that. Or that I specifically said “Better to make one West African unifier tag, with a few different name and flag options,” not quote only the part before, “with a few different name and flag options,” and pretend I said the exact opposite.

I mean, we do all realize that one person got himself or herself upset over something nobody actually said?
 
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Darsara

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If “they” liked my suggestion, “that they would have seen themselves as the resurrection of a great empire of the past,” it would be nice if they acknowledged that it was me who said that. Or that I specifically said “Better to make one West African unifier tag, with a few different name and flag options,” not quote only the part before, “with a few different name and flag options,” and pretend I said the exact opposite.

I mean, we do all realize that one person got himself or herself upset over something nobody actually said?

Please don't try to drag me into something you're at with another user. I was only addressing what Pressburger said, trying to clarify for them based on my reading of context in the post they quoted.
 

wingren013

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I think Sudan would have been a good name for a pan-West African country (were it not for Sudan's meaning to migrate to the present country.)
Sudan or Trans-Sudan would be a European name. I thin native terms should be prioritized.

And why would a jihadi kingdom, named, say, after its centrepiece city, that conquered a vast swathe of West Africa, not just go right on calling itself, for example, Sokoto?
Sokoto never really called itself that. It was the state of 'Uthman dan Fodio, ruled from Sokoto

You could have a pan-islamic name for the region. Probably a corruption of an Arabic term would work. Or just West African Caliphate or new Caliphate or something like that. Al Caliphate fi bilad as Sudan would work as a name (the caliphate of the sudan).

Also on the topic of names. It's not Tuareg, it's Imuzighen. Though many groups would prefer being called by a name like Kel Tamasheq or just by a tribal affiliation.
 
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Pressburger

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Sudan or Trans-Sudan would be a European name. I thin native terms should be prioritized.


Sokoto never really called itself that. It was the state of 'Uthman dan Fodio, ruled from Sokoto

You could have a pan-islamic name for the region. Probably a corruption of an Arabic term would work. Or just West African Caliphate or new Caliphate or something like that. Al Caliphate fi bilad as Sudan would work as a name (the caliphate of the sudan).

Also on the topic of names. It's not Tuareg, it's Imuzighen. Though many groups would prefer being called by a name like Kel Tamasheq or just by a tribal affiliation.
But if you open the article, it says right in the beginning it was an Arabic term that the Europeans started using later on. Given the ties between subsaharan states and Arabic culture, I wouldn't be surprised if the name was also used locally.
 

wingren013

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But if you open the article, it says right in the beginning it was an Arabic term that the Europeans started using later on. Given the ties between subsaharan states and Arabic culture, I wouldn't be surprised if the name was also used locally.
If you're going to use it don't say Sudan like you are speaking english. Use what the locals would say for it. bilad as sudan. Or better yet Al-Kalifat fii bilad as-Sudan دولة الخلافة في بلاد السودان (The Caliphate of the land of the black ones). Which is what Sokoto actually called itself when it needed to have a name.

If that name is too long, shorten it to kalifat fii sudan (caliphate of the blacks)

you could also steal al-Hajj 'Umar Tall's naming scheme and name it after the religious order that founded it. Though this would require proper mechanics to represent sufis, which I doubt would be in at release. (though it should absolutely come, as the institutions of sufism were incredibly important to the Islamic world at this time)


we already know what a pan-islamic state in West Africa would call itself, because one existed at the start of the game and multiple existed during the historical timeframe.

The Sokoto Caliphate was a pan-islamic empire conquered by a predominantly Fulani army that ruled over many different people including non-islamicized cultures and did so with an administration run largely by Hausa people.

It was multi-ethnic, saw itself as having a mission to unite the Islamic world and West Africa under its banner, and was created by a man who was deeply aware of the lobal state of Islam and saw himself as part of a great Islamic tradition.

As for non-Islamic unification tags... well there shouldn't be one. Non-Islamic groups wouldn't have cared, and the historic large empires of West African history were run by Muslims (though only Songhai was really run and founded on Islamic principles while encompassing mostly Muslim population). Various Mande peoples might rename themselves as Mali, but everyone else wouldn't see a reason to. This isn't even getting into the idea that grouping all of West Africa together is very much a view from the outside thing. It's like wanting a tag for if the Ottoman empire conquers Iran. Or if the UK unites all of Europe to the Urals.
 
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Everybody stay on topic and stay kind.
 
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Skales

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Sudan or Trans-Sudan would be a European name. I thin native terms should be prioritized.


Sokoto never really called itself that. It was the state of 'Uthman dan Fodio, ruled from Sokoto

You could have a pan-islamic name for the region. Probably a corruption of an Arabic term would work. Or just West African Caliphate or new Caliphate or something like that. Al Caliphate fi bilad as Sudan would work as a name (the caliphate of the sudan).

Also on the topic of names. It's not Tuareg, it's Imuzighen. Though many groups would prefer being called by a name like Kel Tamasheq or just by a tribal affiliation.

The issue with any Caliphate is that in theory, there is and will ever be and can only be only one Caliphate, ruling over the entirety of the Islamic Ummah. This is why 'Sokoto' is preferable and I see no reason why it should change its name as some sort of 'celebration' of conquering the region, this is a very gamey idea Paradox likes to push in its games and I would prefer to do away with it.
 
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Lorehead

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I’m more than happy to abandon my proposal if it’s not a good suggestion.
I didn’t go into it, but someone cannot come up with good names from a language they don’t speak by searching for individual words in a search engine. You’re a gamer; you’ve seen people making fun of ridiculous translations into English. That’s how any names you or I try to make up that way will sound to native speaker, unless we get extremely lucky. I’m not qualified to comment on how the specific names you suggested would sound to a native speaker in the context of the game, but neither of us should be trying to come up with new names in multiple West African languages in the first place.

In an ideal world, Paradox would be able to hire natives of each culture in the world as consultants, plus historians specializing in every culture that has gone defunct. In the world we live in, even if Paradox wanted to do that, they can’t. So they should either use names that were proposed historically, and don’t have unfortunate political connotations today, or make up names in a language they do speak.

I’d love it if we got a mod with contributors from West Africa. That’s more likely to happen if the game ships with a solid foundation for a West African playthrough. But if the Devs think that they’ll offend people if they don’t invent endonyms, and they’ll also offend people if they do try to invent endonyms, what they will actually do is avoid making any new tags they would have to name. So it’s counterproductive to demand that all names added to the game be endonyms. (And it’s not as if Paradox always calls its home country Konungariket Sverige.)


And why would a jihadi kingdom, named, say, after its centrepiece city, that conquered a vast swathe of West Africa, not just go right on calling itself, for example, Sokoto?
As I’ve said before, not making any new tags or adding any name-changes is one way to handle it. But I think this case justifies more effort.

In the specific case of a Caliphate, I think a name change would make sense. First. the state we are calling “Sokoto” did not actually call itself that. Second, I proposed that the Caliphate might move its capital away from the city of Sokoto. Third, naming it after a specific culture (like Hausa or Songhai) wouldn’t be appropriate, because the concept is an empire that doesn’t have one hegemonic culture. Fourth, the city of Sokoto was not historically part of Mali or Ghana, so it doesn’t make much sense that an empire originating from there would use those particular names. (As some have mentioned, the historical usage of Roman or Romaion in Europe was different, but we shouldn’t treat other parts of the world as if they were exactly like the Roman Empire.)

There are many things the game could call it, though. That’s a purely cosmetic issue.
 
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Lorehead

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The issue with any Caliphate is that in theory, there is and will ever be and can only be only one Caliphate, ruling over the entirety of the Islamic Ummah. This is why 'Sokoto' is preferable and I see no reason why it should change its name as some sort of 'celebration' of conquering the region, this is a very gamey idea Paradox likes to push in its games and I would prefer to do away with it.
Nevertheless, there were rulers in Sokoto and in Istanbul simultaneously calling themselves Caliph, and they were not the first pair in history. Maybe that could be a source of diplomatic tension.
 

Skales

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Nevertheless, there were rulers in Sokoto and in Istanbul simultaneously calling themselves Caliph, and they were not the first pair in history. Maybe that could be a source of diplomatic tension.

I do not see how that is relevant to the discussion at hand, nor do I think it requires special attention, even if it is in the form of a minor diplomatic malus.

This is a state that doesn't really have an official, UN-approved name, go figures, this is a common occurrence in history. A caliphate is by definition universal and Sokoto (or the state we call Sokoto) already is a Caliphate, therefore I do not see the logic of them suddenly changing their name to 'The new Caliphate' or 'West African Caliphate' if they achieve their goal (which again, in theory, they already do) by conquering an arbitrarily defined landmass. The tag should still be Sokoto on the map.
 
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Lorehead

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A caliphate is by definition universal and Sokoto (or the state we call Sokoto) already is a Caliphate, therefore I do not see the logic of them suddenly changing their name to 'The new Caliphate' or 'West African Caliphate' if they achieve their goal (which again, in theory, they already do) by conquering an arbitrarily defined landmass. The tag should still be Sokoto on the map.
Because this Caliphate might not have its capital in Sokoto. If it stays in the city of Sokoto, calling it Sokoto or the Sokoto Caliphate or the Sokoto Empire or any of several other names would be fine (although that is not, to the best of my knowledge, what they called it themselves). I originally made a suggestion that a Caliphate ruling over West Africa from Timbuktu might be called the Caliphate of Timbuktu or the Caliphate of West Africa, but I regret even bringing up that topic now, because it opened up a can of worms that has completely derailed this thread.

As you say, they did historically call themselves a Caliphate, and whether Usman Dan Fodio’s movement was correct to do that is not an issue we need to get into. The fact is that they did.

I’m going to bring up one more time that I said that the unifier tag should have several possible names and flags, and then stop talking about what to call it.
 
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Lorehead

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Whatever it’s called, if it’s desirable to allow a West African state to unify, incorporate the West African territories as state regions, and accept enough of its ethnically-diverse population to become competitive, what content might it have? I’ll focus more on economic development that any kind of unifier might promote, perhaps even a colony. While it would be simpler to implement them if there were a tag-switch that also moves the capital, they could also be done as an event chain.

One decision the game forces us to make is where to put the center of trade (or mercantile capital). The game requires all trade routes to connect to one city, not necessarily the same as the political capital. Since the major transportation infrastructure in the region is its rivers, the center of trade should logically be a seaport connected to the Niger river delta (in what is now southern Nigeria). Historically, trade along the Niger at the start of the time period went through Aboh on the Nun river, but around 1900, the silt deposited by the river created sandbars, which forced trade to move elsewhere. If the game starts out trading through Aboh, the player could be forced to deal with this problem, or watch their international shipping become more and more hampered until they invest the resources to choose another center of trade. Historically, the Forcados River briefly became a stopgap port, until that was blocked by silt as well.

The Niger river splits into and connects to many smaller ones, so there are many possibilities. One that I feel would be appropriate is Ibani (today called Bonny). Its history connects very directly to the major themes of the game. Within the first year of the game, the British send a gunboat to force the King of Bonny to show up to a meeting and sign a treaty that he felt undermined his people’s sovereignty. If the conquerors used the same kind of indirect rule as the British, this had an interesting internal politics between rival trading companies called Canoe Houses, often led by ex-slaves, related to the end of the slave trade and the transition to an economy based on palm oil, that led to a civil war in 1869. And if the rulers did try to break the mercantile power of the Ibani, they might start the Bonny Civil War early.

Alternatively, Port Harcourt was founded in 1912, connecting the Atlantic, the Bonny river and the new railroad. In a different timeline, it still would make sense as a good location for a major seaport that did not favor one tribe or faction over the others, but players who make that investment should be able to choose a more appropriate name than the British Colonial Secretary’s.

Warri or Burutu would also make geographic sense in the time period, although the government might need to dredge the Escravos river in the long run (which historically did not happen until 1964). This might lead to the development of Uriapele (Sapele). Another possibility would be to use a port further north, along the Bight of Benin. The Forcados river was also blocked by silt in the early twentieth century, but good rail connections would allow a port such as Cotonou to become preeminent, or if we want the boring historical option, Eko (presumably not called by its Portuguese name of Lagos).

A West African state would have little reason to found Lomé, but since that historically happened in the time period, it should be possible for a country that owns the region and no major port to do so.

It then would make sense to place the political capital someplace militarily defensible along the major river system. I suggested Timbuktu, which has the most historic prestige, but Bamako could make sense as well, especially for a revived Mali, and was larger at the time. If the capital is already in Sokoto, which connects to the Niger through the Sokoto River, it might remain there. If the rulers are interested in starting someplace fresh, they might select the site of Lokoja for the same reasons the British did: it’s where the Niger river and the Benue river, the major rivers of the western and eastern regions of the Sahel, meet, and roughly as far up the river as large ships can sail. However, moving to a historic capital is something an empire that seeks to gain legitimacy with its new subjects might well do. Timbuktu does have a large population of Fula, the ethnicity of the rulers of Sokoto, and gunboats cannot sail all the way up to it.

At the other end of the Niger river, the Sotuba hydroelectric dam was built along the upper Niger in 1929, providing electricity and irrigation. The first fertilizer plant in West Africa was not built until 1968, in Senegal, and to this day West Africa has some of the lowest rates of fertilizer usage in the world, holding its agricultural sector back. The region does have phosphate deposits which can be used to make fertilizer, although those weren’t historically discovered until 1948, and the Haber process was commercialized in Europe in the 1920s. Another major reason slowing down its adoption was the underdeveloped transportation infrastructure raising costs.

Another theory I’ve heard to explain why palm oil became such a major industry in Indonesia, where it is based on seedlings originally imported from Ghana, is that most of West Africa never reformed its traditional system of land ownership. Industrialization in Asia and most of Europe began with land reforms (although this is a complex topic). But sweeping away the traditional power structure is something a conqueror might well do, and it is also likely that one would want to improve the transportation links across its empire, rather than build a system designed to export primary commodities. We can also imagine one putting more energy into surveying its land for resources. While oil exploration of the Niger river delta began in 1903, it was initially not successful for many more decades, but the oil was there and a more aggressive program might possibly have paid off by the end of the time period.

I’m not sure that a theocracy is the most likely candidate to develop modern technology like artificial fertilizers, but many African countries did subsidize the purchase of fertilizer after the time period, and perhaps that would make a good use of the player’s budget capacity.

If the game does go that route, particularly important improvements to river transport, over and above the construction of roads and rail lines, would be removing the sandbars at the mouths of rivers, and improving the transportation links between Ansongo and Labbezanga, where the Niger river stops being navigable.
 
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The issue with any Caliphate is that in theory, there is and will ever be and can only be only one Caliphate, ruling over the entirety of the Islamic Ummah. This is why 'Sokoto' is preferable and I see no reason why it should change its name as some sort of 'celebration' of conquering the region, this is a very gamey idea Paradox likes to push in its games and I would prefer to do away with it.
Multiple states claiming to be the caliphate have coexisted in Islamic history. It aint weird at all.

Also 'Sokoto' at the start of the game is already calling itself a caliphate at the start of the game.

I actually think it shouldn't be named Sokoto at all in game.
 
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