The African Cities Reader is a biennial publication that brings together contributors from across Africa and the world to challenge the prevailing depiction of urban life on the continent and redefine cityness, Africa-style. It is a joint creation of Chimurenga Magazine and the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.
The third installment of the Reader explores the unholy trinity of land, property and value – the life force of cities everywhere. In an era of late modernity marked by a speculative compulsion that takes on a spectral character as it instigates adventures of city imagineering, deal-making and symbolic reinvestment, the material effects are often displacement, violence, daylight robbery and yet another round of elite seduction. The incessant (re)making of the African city is a game that leaves few untouched or unmoved and literally prepares the ground for the inhabitation of another 400 million urban dwellers over the next two decades.
In this issue António Andrade Tomás picks through the post-independence architectural ruins of Luanda and reveals the vice and violence that permeate the act of securing land and home in a city greased with the ‘devil’s excrement’; Andile Mngxitama challenges the historical and contemporary rhetoric that positions land theft in South Africa in the realm of material dispossessions and asks us to plumb deeper to discover the narrative of loss that is the black experience; Billy Kahora reflects on the state of the ‘estate’ of his Nairobi childhood and finds its decay symptomatic of the malaise of a middle class that has lost its mind; and a transformative vision for the Lagos National Theatre is presented in four conversations and seven performative pamphlets.
Other contributors include Maud De La Chapelle, Armelle Choplin, Marion Broquère, Simon Nancy, Jean-Christophe Lanquetin, Jumoke Verissimo, Adolphus Opara, Ayodele Arigbabu, Hunter And Gatherer Collective, Jahman Anikulapo, Koni Benson, Faeza Meyer, Sean Christie, Anne Pitcher, Marissa Moorman, Göran Dahlberg and Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon.
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