American Dad Attempts to Own Unclaimed African Desert

October 26, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. stake a claim (to/over someone or something) /steɪk ə kleɪm tu/ (idiom) – to express one’s intention to own something
Example: Siblings would often fight to stake a claim to the television’s remote control.

2. claim /kleɪm/ (v.) – to make known one’s ownership over something
Example: My sister made sure to claim the biggest room in the house before I had the chance.

3. no man’s land /noʊ mænz lænd/ (n.) – an empty land that is not owned or claimed
Example: There are still deserts and rainforests in Asia that are considered as no man’s land.

4. colonizer /ˈkɒl əˌnaɪzr/ (n.) – people who occupy a free land in order to create a colony
Example: The colonizers of the United States of America came from Britain.

5. convert /kənˈvɜrt/ (v.) – to change into something that is entirely different
Example: They converted their home into an orphanage.


Read the text below.
In July, an American citizen has reportedly staked a claim over an unclaimed land in Africa for his daughter.

Jeremiah Heaton [jer-uh-MAHY-uh  hee-tn], a father of three, has been attempting to claim a piece of land since June. He said that his efforts are entirely dedicated to his seven-year-old daughter, Emily, who dreams to become a princess. Not wanting to disappoint her, Heaton searched for a place he can claim as his own.

On Emily’s seventh birthday, he planted a flag designed by his children on a Northern African desert known as Bir Tawil [beer, bur tuh-wil]. He named it the Kingdom of North Sudan [soo-DAN].

Located between Egypt [EE-jipt] and Sudan, Bir Tawil is an 800-square-mile stretch of desert. Heaton stated that because of a border dispute, the area is not within the official boundaries of either of the two countries, making it an unclaimed territory.

Heaton feels that setting a flag on a no man’s land is a legitimate way of claiming it since it was the way colonizers declared ownership of newly-discovered lands in the past. However, Heaton clarifies that unlike past invaders, his claim is an act of love, not of war. He further shared that once his claim is legalized, he plans to follow his children’s wishes and convert the land into an agricultural production center.

Currently, Heaton is seeking aid from the African Union to make his claim official. However, politics professor Sheila Carapico [SHEE-luh  ka-ra-PEESH oh], said that Heaton still has a long way to go. He would need the legal approval of the land’s neighboring countries and the United Nations for him to have political authority over Bir Tawil.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Jeremiah Heaton should be allowed to claim the land? Why or why not?
·         Would you do the same thing as Jeremiah Heaton if a close family member asked you to? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think is the best use for unclaimed lands? Please explain your answer.
·         Who do you think is fit to own an unclaimed land? Please explain your answer.

October 26, 2014