At times of economic and political crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, urban dwellers display a large degree of creativity in their survival strategies by developing social networks and constructing imaginative and original practices and ideas. This volume views the urban neighbourhood from two different perspectives and explores the importance of these creative processes. The first approach considers the neighbourhood as a geographical domain in which people are engaged in a variety of activities to advance their material and immaterial well-being, making use of their ‘wealth’ of opportunities, assets and diverse forms of natural, physical, financial, human and social ‘capital’. The second angle sees the neighbourhood as not necessarily geographically located or bounded but as having been created and defined by human beings. These neighbourhoods may take on the form of self-help organizations, associations or churches, or may be based on gender, generational, ethnic or occupational identities. As the contributions from all over Sub-Saharan Africa show, the two approaches do not necessarily exclude each other.
Piet Konings is a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden where he studies political change and regionalism in Cameroon and the role of civil society in Africa. His main fields of interest are labour, rural development, ethno-regionalism and civil society in West Africa, especially in Cameroon and Ghana.
Dick Foeken is a human geographer and senior researcher at the African Studies Centre. Over the last five years his research has focused on urban agriculture, urban poverty and urban-rural links, mainly in East Africa.
Dr Piet Konings (African Studies Centre, Leiden) Dr Paul Mathieu (FAO-SDAA, Rome)
Dr Adebayo Olukoshi (CODESRIA, Dakar)
Prof. Deborah Posel (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) Dr Ruth Watson (Birkbeck College, University of London)
1 The African neighbourhood: An introduction 1
Piet Konings, Rijk van Dijk & Dick Foeken
2 Surviving in the neighbourhoods of Nakuru town, Kenya 22
Samuel Owuor & Dick Foeken
3 ‘Bendskin’ drivers in Douala’s New Bell neighbourhood: Masters of the road and the city 46
4 Intimate strangers: Neighbourhood, autochthony and the politics of belonging 66
5 Neighbourhood formation process: Access to housing land in Kamwokya, Kampala, Uganda 88
6 Urban space, gender and identity: A neighbourhood of Muslim women in Kano, Nigeria 119
7 Maps of what matters: Community colour 142
8 Not quite the comforts of home: Searching for locality among street youth in Dar es Salaam 163
9 Togolese cartographies: Re-mapping space in a post-Cold War city 197
10 Neighbours on the fringes of a small city in post-war Chad 211
Mirjam de Bruijn
11 Neighbourhood (re)construction and changing identities in Mauritania from a small town perspective 230
Kiky van Til
List of authors 251
All those interested in recent economic, political and urban developments in Africa and in the creative responses of residents in African urban neighbourhoods, in particular youth, women and all kinds of entrepreneurs, to the current economic and political crisis.