After realizing Zimbabwe wasn’t on Google Maps, photographer Tawanda Kanhema set out to change that.
Most addresses in the US and Europe are well documented on Google Maps, but the same isn’t true of large parts of Africa and Asia. Kanhema realized the large gaps on Google Maps when he tried to show a friend his childhood home in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city.
Partnering with Google and Insta360, Kanhema set out to travel 2,000 miles by car, boat, air, and foot, and document his surroundings for Google Maps.
According to NPR, Kanhema explained, “I found it quite jarring that a lot of the countries in the region were not on the map…We should do more to make sure that those communities are represented.”
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Kanhema took it upon himself to ensure his community of Zimbabwe was represented, and he did so using cameras borrowed from Google and Insta360.
NPR further reported that Kanhema was followed by a Google camera crew and they recorded parts of his journey, but much of it he did all alone. He carried his camera and hiked, biked, and trekked to locations that would otherwise remain a mystery to those of us outside the country.
He ended up traveling over 2,000 miles, paying $5,000 of his own money, and capturing 500 miles of “Street View” for Google Maps in Zimbabwe.
He shared photos of his journey on Instagram. In one post, he said, “Over the last two weeks we’ve seen the best of Zimbabwe — its natural beauty, enchanting sunrises and epic waterfalls and rapids — we hope to share a bit of that with you on #GoogleStreetView #GoogleEarth”
Though he’s done with his mission of mapping Zimbabwe, Kanhema hasn’t stopped taking photos. In fact, he now documents the Unmapped Planet.
He shared with Good Morning America below, “A map is never final. People are constantly adding more context, more perspectives, adding more voices towards the representations of these places and so for me it feels like just a gentle, gradual improvement in the digital coverage of places in Africa.”Whizzco