CONSIDERING COMPLEXITIES IN UNIQUE AFRICAN PLANNING APPROACHES: ABSTRACTING THE ROLE OF AFRICAN URBAN RESIDENTS
Free (open access)
415 - 426
SELNA CORNELIUS, JAKO VIVIERS, JUANEE CILLIERS, CHRISTI NIESING
Africa is currently the fastest urbanising region in the world and has subsequently become the centre of continuously growing attention from planning practitioners and academics. Many of these scholars argue for a unique African planning approach in light of the failure of the African urban landscape to emulate Western models of urbanisation. However, whilst practitioners and academics are deliberating concepts like decolonisation and African urbanism, African urban residents have been labouring non-stop to create sustainable living environments and meaningful lives for themselves. This paper aims to showcase how these residents have proven themselves to be active agents in constructing sustainable human settlements rather than simply being passive victims of relentless structural processes beyond their control. It argues the failure of unique African planning approaches and decolonisation attempts to recognise and more importantly, incorporate the solutions provided by the said African residents, because of the inherent Western ideals and ways of thinking guiding global planning approaches. The paper employs theory-based sampling as part of a qualitative inquiry into African urbanism, decolonisation and sustainable human settlement development, before turning to case studies in South Africa and Zambia to consider the complexities within these concepts and support the line of argument. The subsequent discussion begs the question of the role and interference required from planning practitioners and academics within the rapidly changing African urban landscape. It also explores the causative position of African residents in creating sustainable human settlements, highlighting the instances where they have created unique solutions to planning problems and have shaped the urban landscape to suit their own needs and circumstances, challenging Western rationalities underpinning African planning approaches. The paper concludes that abstracting the role of African urban residents in creating a unique African planning approach, may hold potential to create more sustainable and just human settlements in Africa.
African urbanism, decolonisation, unplanned settlements, community-based planning, reblocking