Back from the Future

As Africans we have an opportunity to fundamentally remake our economies and societies – imagine different futures. Our massive service infrastructure deficit must be seized as an opportunity to envision radically new and more sustaining development trajectories, unburdened by extractivism, colonialism, and violence – an opportunity to experiment with approaches that draw on the improvisatory, adaptive and often makeshift dynamics of self-built neighbourhoods to catalyse expanding networks of lightweight, low-cost onsite community infrastructures and social services, embedded in neighbourhood association and governance. We need to develop different relationships with materials: valorise earth over concrete, sustainable plant-based materials over steel; nurture nature-based infrastructures. We need to move beyond an urban metabolism based on energy intensive, resource heavy, super-massive fixed infrastructures designed to support unsupportable levels of materials consumption. To bring about this future, we need to anticipate it, while simultaneously rooting our anticipatory visions deeply in existing urban fabric. Here’s a visual exercise in anticipating a different future.

In the meantime, check out a presentation we produced for the African Centre for Cities using AI tools. We opened the African Infrastructure Futures conference with it. We live in the neighbourhoods of the future. Is this the future we imagined we wanted?

The sublime soundtrack: Coby Sey’s version of Chicoco Sounds’ Change, written by our very own Trust (that’s his name. His twin is called Truth).

Researchers, activists, rappers, mappers, actors, audio engineers, writers, readers, reporters, filmmakers, singers, students, teachers, urban farmers, makers of the city yet to come.