Losing farmland is forever

The fight for better cities is seldom as clearly defined as when water and food are at stake. Yet access to both hangs in the balance at the Philippi Horticultural Area – 3074ha of fertile land that has been the city’s breadbasket since the 19th century. This single block of land, tilled for decades, provides […]

Improved roads coming to Gulu

Gulu, a town in northern Uganda, is run by a municipal authority which gets most of its funding for social service provision to residents from the central government. The municipality, which considers itself the de-factor capital of northern Uganda, is clamouring for legal city status. But basic social services, such as roads, are still wanting. […]

Cape Town not exempt from an urban spring?

The protests which have played out on the streets, in the squares and outside the stadia of Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Cairo, have brought to the fore the importance of public participation and engagement around the development of cities. These protests should send a strong signal to Cape Town and other cities […]

An uncertain urban future for Tunis?

Echoes of street poetry resonate in the dusty domes and alleys of the Medina of Tunis. On breezy evenings in April, culturally sensitive youth crowded through the  gate of the ‘Beb Bhar’(Port de France) entrance, thirsty for poetry, music and art of the spectacular ‘‘KlemShera3’’ (street poetry) event. This spectacular show is just one of […]

Defending Cape Town’s princess

Princess Vlei, a wetland system that runs through Grassy Park in Cape Town, is situated on the border between formerly “coloured” and white group areas, and is ideally located to offer a meeting point for Capetonians from diverse backgrounds. However, the bid to build a shopping mall on its banks has galvanised the community into […]

Gulu: clamouring for city status after war

From atop the Pearl Afrique Hotel, the changing skyline of Gulu town is visible. The thatched roofs of mud and wattle huts that once dotted the edges of the town are no more.  The mud and wattle has given way to tiled and iron sheet roofs of new buildings that sprout from the rubble where […]

Reflecting on Nairobi’s heritage

Residents of Nairobi appreciate the city for its present-day attributes but not so much for its history. The city, built on a swamp, began in 1899 as a railway depot and camp during the construction of the Mombasa-Kampala railway.  By the early 1900s, Nairobi was a bustling town and eventually became the colonial administrative capital […]

Come dance with me

The moment the Sarakasi dancers and acrobats appear on stage, one feels their pulsating, vibrant energy. The dancers bound onto the stage exuding graceful athleticism often associated with world-class acts like Cirque du Soleil, yet exhibiting a uniqueness that has come to be recognized as the Sarakasi (which means “circus or acrobatics” in Kiswahili) dance […]

Building a city of neighbourhoods

Mokena Makeka is a Cape Town-based architect responsible for the redesign of the city’s main transit station – the heart of a 20-year vision of high-density neighbourhoods – and the celebrated Thusong Service Centre in Khayelitsha. Brett Petzer spoke with him about the wait for better spaces. Brett Petzer: Why, within walking distance of Cape […]

New African urbanisms: a view from Luanda

Twenty years ago, Western scholars declared African cities to be in crisis. [1] Years of rapid unplanned urban growth under conditions of economic crisis had taken their toll and observers warned that without ‘good governance’ these cities would be lost beyond repair. Post-war urban development in Luanda as described by the South African anthropologist Claudia […]