Discourses on urban development tend to dehumanise ordinary Africans by stripping them of the ingenuity it takes to simply survive and reproduce a sense of identity, community, belonging and aspiration that coincides with the conditions of poverty and exploitation. Understandably, policy oriented perspectives on the dire conditions facing the urban poor tend to imply a bleak situation of suffering and hardship which makes it difficult to keep in mind that ordinary Africans continue to lead profoundly rich and imaginative lives despite material deprivation. This is evidenced in the rich popular cultural practices in African cities, which bubble over in ever changing musical expressions, new dance styles, dress codes, religious practices, and so forth. The mystery of African cities is that despite the harsh conditions that confront most African urbanites, a sense of optimism and pleasure manages to persist. In light of this, the ACC is teaming up with the Chimurenga Magazine to foster a platform for alternative perspectives and insights on the dynamics of African cities in order to enrich general understanding of these places. The reader can be viewed here.
The first ACR has just been published: African Cities Reader 2009. Look for the new Call for the 2010 ACR that will be posted in August.