melissa tandiwe myambo
AFRICA’S GLOBAL CITY?
The Hipsterification of Johannesburg
In 2000, the new City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality announced its goal of becoming ‘an African world-class city’, with increased prosperity and economic growth for all. Subsequent planning documents reiterated the tagline: ‘a world-class city, with service deliverables and efficiencies that meet world best practice’—‘a world-class African city for all’.  See iGoli2002 (1999); Joburg 2030 (2002); Growth and Development Strategy (2006). Who defines what ‘world-class’ means? The annual Global Cities report put out by estate agents Knight Frank conflates it with ‘global’, which in turn glorifies cities that prioritize profit-maximization and attracting talented professionals. The ‘global city’ rankings put out by the American management-consultancy firm A. T. Kearney rank urban conglomerates in terms of business activity, human capital, innovation and personal well-being. The key word is competition. ‘The race for global city status is accelerating’, enthuses atk. ‘While European cities prevail today, North American cities show greater potential, especially in innovation. And although top cities in China significantly outperform those in India, competition is tightening.’  A. T. Kearney, Global Cities Index and Emerging Cities Outlook, 2014.
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- Trevor Ngwane: Sparks in the Township South Africa as vanguard of post-colonial neoliberalism, and laboratory of its social consequences. From the townships around Johannesburg, rebellion against the privatizations of the anc regime, and the enrichment of a new political class.
- Joe Trapido: Kinshasa’s Theatre of Power The DRC’s capital is set to become Africa’s largest city, but struggles to assert its authority over a profoundly fractured state as it expands in chaotic fashion. Dilapidated infrastructure and a disintegrating formal economy have not extinguished Kinshasa’s extraordinary cultural vitality, or its role as a centre of political opposition.
- Matthew Gandy: Learning from Lagos Africa’s largest city not as chaotic laboratory of urban form, but end result of a specific historical trajectory. Beyond Koolhaas’s diagrammatic insights, the real context of spiralling debts, kleptocrat elite, infra-structural collapse and burgeoning informal sector as factors in Lagos’s expansion.
- Mike Davis: Planet of Slums Future history of the Third World’s post-industrial megacities. A billion-strong global proletariat ejected from the formal economy, with Islam and Pentecostalism as songs of the dispossessed.
- R. W. Johnson: False Start in South Africa Disappointments of post-apartheid rule, marred by mass unemployment and corruption, amid the enrichment of a new black elite. Does the arrival of Zuma, and new salience of the SACP within the ruling alliance, portend a lurch to ethnic conflict and capital flight?
- Patrick Bond: In Power in Pretoria? Responding to Johnson, Patrick Bond locates the origins of the ANC’s neoliberal record since 1994 in the compromises of the transition era. Rhetoric versus reality, and the subordination of trade unions and SACP alike to capital’s prerogatives.