The African City of Culture: Project Delayed, Project Denied

The African City of Culture: Project Delayed, Project Denied

I’m not quite sure about the choice of title for this post, but the rationale is quite compelling. I have written reasonably extensively on the subject matter of city, nation and/ or place branding covering a range of regions and geographies from Accra (Ghana), to Dundee (Scotland), Gangnam (South Korea), Johannesburg (South Africa), Senegal, Sharjah (united Arab Emirates) to Thailand.

In all of these, one thing that keeps coming to mind is a need for Africa to move away from traditional sectors to celebrating its cultural endowments.

In my most recent article, I did a double take on Jamestown and Sophiatown as male and female cities of culture from an African lens. This has now been accentuated by recent developments, thanks to Chidi Achebe – a LinkedIn contact, highlighting developments in a few African Cities from Enugu, Port Harcourt both in Nigeria to Kisumu (in Kenya).

Now back to Africa, Jamestown (Accra, Ghana), is equally historical. I got wind of the town on my January 2020 trip to the country. Regrettably, however, I missed the opportunity to fit in a trip there into my schedule. Be that as it may, Jamestown, in my view, is much uncelebrated despite its proximity to the capital city of Accra.

As one 2017 UK Guardian article rightly surmises the spirit, “Accra’s Jamestown is electric — it’s like Hackney Wick on steroids…” Although the lighthouse (see image below) wasn’t quite captured in that article, descriptors such as “electric” and “Hackney Wick on steroids” come pretty close.

 

From the foregoing, I wish to reiterate my point on the need to kickstart the celebration of African Cities of Culture. Perhaps the management of African Universities and those responsible for curriculum development in the region, should embrace factoring this into the curriculum and encourage scholarship in this space.

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