Metropolises often evoke images of flashy high-rise buildings, permanent background noise, backed-up cars and people moving quickly in all directions in their masses. New York, Tokyo, London, Sao Paulo. But what about Cairo? Lagos? Nairobi, Kinshasa, Johannesburg? More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. Countries of the South in particular are facing fast-paced globalisation, with the highest rates of urbanisation taking place in African cities. Beyond Western models of urban development, African cities are creating their own urban structures, topography and cultures. How do these structures work? How do the residents of these cities organise their daily lives? What discussions are taking place in Africa about the history and future of cities? And how are artists thinking about and representing urban life in Africa?
Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, Afropolis is the product of an exhibition developed by the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne, Germany. The book focuses on the Big Five of African cities: Cairo, Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa and Johannesburg, and brings together positions of artistic and cultural studies, as well as detailed histories and the specific dynamics of these African cities, in order to expand our understanding of the concept of urbanity and the phenomenon of the City from an African perspective. This is the first time the book is available in English.