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sometimes with impeccable green building credentials and increasingly draped in smart city armatures. As African cities become more and more attractive landing pads for speculative international capital, there is a growing appetite for these “next generation” real estate developments in evidence from Kinshasa, to Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Luanda, among an ever-growing list.14 Even though these glamour projects are getting a lot of media and scholarly attention, they still represent a small fraction of the total built environment investment across African cities. However, their power lies in colonising the imagination of urban leaders and policy makers. There is a desperate need to peel back the layers of seductive gloss to reveal the true urban cost of these fantasies, while using their symbolic importance as an entry point to tell different stories about other possible futures. This requires the energies of speculative design and art to do their work of deconstruction, satire and reinscription. It is important to elide the temptation to simply critique these made-up schemes for the folly that they are on the surface. Instead, what they demand is a creative engagement that plays along in order to make room for much more interesting and resonant possibilities that can, over time, divert the wasteful investments of made-up cities towards more interesting ways of building, movement and living together. The dominant action for most cities can be found in mindless urbanism. This includes the routine investments and management systems MAKING UP URBANISMS AS WE GO ALONG …11 I refract in this section emergent urbanisms in Africa through four naming concepts as a bridge between urban studies and contemporary art. My hope is that these made-up designations will provoke new ways of thinking and seeing that can in turn engender novel aesthetic responses that could push urban studies around the instrumentalist bend. It is possible to evoke the dilemmas and possibilities of African urban futures around four M words: makeshift, made-up, mindless and malleable. Makeshift urbanism denotes what the literature terms “everyday urbanism”. This includes the routine practices, social relations, social bonds and anxieties that constitute daily survival, sociality and aspiration by urban majorities. In particular, it invokes the urban majorities whose lives are overdetermined by informality – where they live, how they put food on the table, access services and move around. Asef Bayat presciently refers to these practices and dispositions as the “encroachment of the ordinary”.12 Since these practices accompany the lives and aspirations of the majority of the population, it arguably constitutes the primary form of city-building in Africa and as such demands most of our intellectual and aesthetic attention. 13 On the other end of the spectrum is a growing phenomenon of made-up urbanism. This conveys the decontextualized, elite-oriented investments in enclave living, 131 combined with rapid urbanisation in peri-urban zones, such inefficiencies seem likely to worsen as urbanisation continues apace. Fourthly, the combination of urban neglect and inappropriate elite investments accelerates the distorted spatial form of most African cities that derive their fundamental structure from colonial planning and regulation. This produces urban landscapes of inefficient sprawl, stark urban divisions and very poor quality public space. This urban form has a particularly debilitating impact on the budgets of poor urban majorities who have to expend up to 40% of their incomes on transport, stifling prospects of social and economic mobility. Finally, beyond these socio-economic and related infrastructural factors, most African cities are also saddled with ineffective and unresponsive governments. Sometimes this is due to the lack of devolution of financial resources and legal competencies to lower levels of government; other times, it is due to deeply entrenched rentseeking behaviour and patronage. Importantly, African democracies are being built and tested in cities. Opposition political parties find a footing and springboard in the neglected slums of cities, creating a perverse political incentive for the establishment to further ignore and bypass slum areas. In other words, nascent multiparty democracy has as yet no necessary or obvious positive spin-offs for popular neighbourhoods in many African cities. This fact points to another theoretical quandary and paucity of debate. The instinctive and understandable response to these observations is a combination of moral outrage and political depression. However, it is absolutely critical to resist such sentiments. Despite these glaring faultlines of injustice and exclusion, the truth is that we actually know very little about the fine grain of everyday life in the African city. Urban dwellers are nothing if not resilient. Somehow, across diverse urban settings, people are able to find room to hustle, invest, hedge, negotiate, contract, support, extract, deal, consolidate, expand and continuously recalibrate their positions in relation to scarce resources and opportunities. This implies a capacity to read and play complex and ever-shifting environments, capacities which are yet to be mined for understanding, insight and innovation. The intersection of the built environment, contemporary art and popular culture provides a crucial nexus as the Africa exhibition implies.


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