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Urban Environments in AfricaA Critical Analysis of Environmental Politics$
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Garth Myers

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447322917

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447322917.001.0001

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The grassroots

The grassroots

(p.141) Five The grassroots
Urban Environments in Africa

Garth Myers

Policy Press

In this chapter, the goal is to work through the multi-vocality at the grassroots of Africa’s urban environments, in places like Pikine in Dakar, Kibera in Nairobi, or the Cape Flats in Cape Town. The grassroots are crucial for addressing urban environmental issues, and the voices of people at the grassroots and the margins are often justifiably pushed to the center in political ecological analysis. The experts show that there are myriad complex environmental problems in Africa’s cities. Previous chapters argue for seeing the beginnings of these problems in the past; for understanding the cityscape both physically and spiritually as a part of the political-environmental dynamics; and for seeing the problems from ecocritical perspectives. This chapter turns to what is being done at the grassroots across many cities. One segment surveys some of this terrain, beginning with the intellectual terrain of urban political ecology, followed by a set of urban contexts on the continent, before moving to an in-depth focus on Cape Town. The contemporary context of what Edgar Pieterse calls ‘rogue urbanism’ calls for ‘radical incrementalism’ built around the grassroots, but this is seldom successful on the continent.

Keywords:   cape town, pikine, grassroots, rogue urbanism, radical incrementalism

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