From December 3-7, 2017, I participated in the international workshop “The Politics and Practice of DIY Urbanism in African Cities,” in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop, sponsored by Malmo University, provided a platform for researchers and practitioners with experiences from across Nigeria, as well as from Zambia, Botswana and other African countries to discuss and debate the notion of “DIY urbanism.”
While in the global north, DIY urbanism refers to creative activities, in the global south, the discourse is on the urban informality, with a particular focus on residence and livelihoods. However, on the ground, the range of DIY activities in African cities is expansive, from basic needs to creative, cultural activities, although the latter are seldom recognized.
As part of the workshop, I had the opportunity to present initial thoughts and approaches from my own research (examining the ways residents claim and use public spaces), based on my past professional experience and research. It also provided a wonderful opportunity to discuss this theme and connect with urban practitioners and researchers based in the Nigeria, Malawi, Sweden, and the United States.
Each of we the participants are contributing chapters to what will be a published book on this theme.