Have you heard of the Mountains of Kong?


Situated in West Africa, this vast Mountain Range is beautifully illustrated in maps dating back to the Sixteenth Century (1798-1892). For almost 100 years these mountains were considered as an obstacle and boundary between the Niger River and the Atlantic. Thus blocking all commerce between Europe and the rest of Africa. What is fascinating about the Kong Mountains is that they only existed in the imaginations of explorers, mapmakers and traders.

mountain of kong

Explorers and merchants continued to validate this non-existent mountain range, despite the changes of the appearance as indicated on maps through time.

Now what makes this is interesting to me is that Maps are representations of our geographical world. We believe these representations, we allow it to construct certain beliefs like: “Oh, we can’t trade with the rest of Africa because there’s a huge mountain range in the way.” We are able to believe the representation for a century… till proven otherwise.


mountain of kong

Hilary Janks, professor at Wits writes:

The Mountains of Kong is a metaphor for the power of text and the force of images.”

We, beautiful humans, are able to adapt and change once a different image or representation is offered.

Let’s relate this to media- as we consume certain images of what is socially ‘acceptable’, we believe these as truths. Allowing it to shape our beliefs and understanding of the world and how we operate in it…But the Mountains of Kong reminds us that images can always be challenged and subsequently changed. I will leave you with this last thought from Janks: “In a world where the only thing that is certain, apart from death and taxes, is change itself.”


Mountains of Kong

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