African Mobilities examines the possibilities for creative intervention and strategies of interruption by way of obstructions, gaps, pauses, and logistical counterpoints that contest sedimentation and permanent enclosure. It advances towards a more relational, multiscalar and multi-sited approach to an exploded space-time through which the majority of circulation occurs on the African continent. It connects architects and other creative practitioners, theorists, and scholars from fourteen different locations, including Johannesburg, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Abidjan, Lagos, New York, Dakar, Nairobi, and Praia. Together, we hope to build a living archive of contemporary African thinking that presents alternative ways of creating urban realities.
The voices and visions carried across several media — podcast; text; video; animation; and drawings — offer new iterations of countercartographies against hegemonic socio-spatial relations and representational practices. The phonic and visual dimensions of this platform work towards the production of new, alternative practices, knowledges, and materialities. They raise a number of questions about which narratives Africans choose to tell and how they tell them. African Mobilities offers up a diverse range of spatial practices in the service of a larger emancipatory spatial project in Africa and beyond. In engaging how Africans from diverse locations in urban space imagine themselves and negotiate spaces of possibility, a form of creative cartography with which to document circulation and produce architecture emerges.
These explorations are subversive, dystopian, and hopeful in giving space to life within the ‘uninhabitable’. These improvised lives are held within a network of relational-knowledge structures that offer familiarity and verifiability. This challenges the idea of space as a container for social processes by engaging with the ensemble-work of the dynamic and ongoing production of space in a creative conversation about the future of African cities — constantly ‘on the move and out of place’, but ‘still capable of neighbourly relations’ (Simone, 2018). The diverse offerings here make no claims at being comprehensive, nor do they seek an exhaustive representation of all forms of African mobility. Rather, they investigate the multiple registers through which Africans imagine, analyse, and negotiate their place in the world in an open-ended way