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According to the UN, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities in the year 2050. Africa makes a strong contribution to this statistic, and everywhere on the continent the cities are growing very rapidly. This theme focuses on six different cities across the African continent, each described in its own way. They have been selected because they represent widely differing geographies and colonial histories. Seen as a whole, through a row of pinpricks, each city tells a story of making ends meet, of impatient grasping at a flickering future, of youth culture and colonial legacy, of empowerment and state power, of art scenes and film   industry. Composite narratives that bring out the paradoxes and conditions of life. Central to a number of the cities are the stories of informal housing areas, because this is where much of the city’s life is lived. The informal neighbourhoods vary greatly from city to city, but share the feature that they have not been planned by a city   architect or adopted by a city council – they have been built by the people themselves. URBAN AFRICA 65


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