Back in the day, the hip-hop duo OutKast released a song called “Aquemini” that goes:
Street scholars that’s majoring in culinary arts, you know,
how to work the bread, cheese, and dough from scratch
This is a little André wordplay, talking about hustlers out to earn their pay. When I heard this and clocked the bread, cheese, and dough bit, I wondered — how did all these food words come to mean money?
This is Biologist Dr Danielle N. Lee also known as the Urban Scientist at Scientific American, she “draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups.” Biology-Online liked her work so much they wanted her to…
African cities have become the world’s next property investment frontier in the post-2008 economic climate. International architects and property developers are scrambling to sell fantastical visions of new satellite cities, or in some cases entire city makeovers, to short-sighted governments.
An artist’s impression of Lagos’ new Eko Atlantic City development, currently being built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. According to the AfDB, 65% of continent’s population will live in cities by 2060.
Image 1 and 2: Artist’s impression of Lagos’ new Eko Atlantic City development, currently being built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean.
The designs for some of Africa’s largest cities, dubbed “world-class cities”, “smart cities” and “eco cities”, are accompanied by artistic renderings suggesting visions of Dubai, Singapore or Shanghai. For instance, the plans by US-based Oz Architecture for Rwanda’s capital, Kigali (Image 3), ignore the city’s large informal urban population. A proposed new satellite city near Nairobi, Kenya, designed by New York-based SHoP Architects, promises a modernised and sanitised living environment for the middle classes. These smaller, mostly independent urban areas are far removed from the squalor and congestion of existing cities. Hope City, just east of Accra, Ghana’s capital, designed by Italian architect Paulo Brescia, is no different. African beehives inspired its large, linked buildings that contain all the facilities needed for residents and workers, thus eliminating the need to venture outdoors.
Other cities are expanding by filling in land to create new urban extensions. Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is one of Africa’s largest and poorest cities. Here in 2009 developers began filling the Congo River to support up-market retail and residential buildings, a process which destroyed the livelihoods of many small farmers along the river’s banks.
In Nigeria, the Lagos state government and South Energyx, a private engineering and construction firm, are creating “Eko Atlantic”, a 10-square-kilometre artificial island off the coast of Lagos, the country’s economic capital, where some 250,000 people can live and work away from the city’s congestion and pollution. When the project began in 2012, the Nigerian government demolished the floating shacks of the Makoko neighbourhood and left many residents of this fishing community homeless.
Do these new developments represent the “modernisation” of African cities? Should we be concerned about them? Yes, mostly because these urban plans ignore the realities of African cities and in many cases would directly worsen current conditions. Full city “make-overs”, such as the plan for Kigali, are leading to the removal of slum dwellers from central urban districts where income-generating opportunities and public services are concentrated.
Ed’s note: Read the whole article
Photographer: Thandiwe Muriu
Makeup Artist: Cultured Ego
Model: Anok Kuol