By the end of the century, five of the ten world’s most populated cities will be in Africa. If we consider the top 20 mega-cities of 2100, the proportion of African cities grows even more to thirteen. Of course, such long-term populations’ estimations are worth what they are worth. At least, they are supported by the current urbanization rate of the African continent where people massively flow into cities already too busy with themselves to take ‘care’.
Yearly, 24 million Africans leave the rural areas for cities in the noble quest for a decent life. The challenge is therefore less about how to (try to) stop urbanization than about finding resilient and sustainable alternatives to today and to a future colonized by today’s habits of mind and heart. Such alternatives could make it possible to transform the urbanization flows of African cities from the "incoherent rush of the rural masses towards the cities", as predicted by Frantz Fanon, into a journey of human emancipation; to reconcile the urban centers with the so-called ‘bush’; in short, to go beyond Mongo Beti’s cruel city to bring about Coltrane’s land of love supreme. This is the challenge in and for the Africas and its people and beyond: to imagine, inspire and realize a humane and milieu friendly urbanization, to imagine new kinds of cities and communities.
However “what is the city but the people?”, as put forward by the Shakespearian Sicinius. The city is its people. And what are the people if not their habits of mind and heart, their technological knowledge, in a broad sense their prevailing ideas?
The historical rupture of knowledge’s accumulation and transmission in African societies, which is still undergoing, is therefore a crucial dimension for exploring tomorrow’s African (mega)cities and communities. The now much talked-about EdTech and other digital applications are certainly necessary to better understand the processes at hand, but reaching toward the complexity remains the real challenge: Which habits of mind and heart should learning and education foster for the emergence of futures not yet colonized by today’s rhetoric.
The Lab will discuss the ideas and rhetoric affecting how we see the futures of knowledge generation and transmission for the Africas and beyond. How do the current narratives on learning and education reflect on how we design our cities and communities? Can we rethink our idea of progress by designing new learning structures and experiences? The Lab should ignite participants into thinking about new ways of talking about possible new us and conjuring it into our future selves.
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