The School of the Built Environment and Development Studies in the College of Humanities recently hosted a three-day symposium titled: “The Pan African City: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” which analysed co-production of urban spaces that require recognition, acceptance, and guidance of conventional and unconventional (planned and unplanned settlements) space to create inclusive urban environments.
The plenary session was facilitated by Housing Senior Lecturer, Professor Lovemore Chipungu who also serves as SARChI Chair for Inclusive Cities. Other panellists were Professor Sijekula Mbanga (Nelson Mandela University), Professor Maria K D Marshall (University of Maryland, USA) and Professor Coleman A. Jordan (Morgan State University, USA).
Chipungu noted that throughout his career as a practitioner, researcher and academic, the African city has been the mainstay of his focus. ‘The African city is at (a) cross-roads. It is abounding with resources, some of which are yet to be exploited and on the other hand, it is a distressed city arising out of multiple social economic and environmental challenges. This symposium affords us a platform to discuss these issues in building our cities and to come up with long term and sustainable solutions,’ he said.
Marshal indicated that the University of Maryland’s mission is to advance excellence in education scholarship and professional practice towards just and resilient communities, promoting social justice, cultural diversity, resource conservation and economic opportunity through excellence in architectural design, urban planning, historic preservation and real estate development.
‘One of our four strategic commitments and principles is to engage communities across the region and internationally in crafting environments for all to create diverse and built environment discourse and action. This is in line with the university’s strategic plan,’ she said.
Mbanga discussed the current water shortage crisis faced by residents of Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape as well as the recently KwaZulu-Natal disastrous floods. He said that there are existing development programmes that have been put in place to ensure safe and secure cities. ‘We are committed to ensuring that Africa has a safe and resilient city. As a university, we will work with all the key players in this conference. We understand the current situation and are seeking new approaches,’ he said.
Jordan revealed that ‘Morgan State University is committed to move ahead with the Pan African Heritage World Museum’. ‘We are currently working on this and partnering with African University College of communications (AUCC),’ he said.
Professor Pholoho Morojele, College of Humanities Dean of Research, said the symposium was an eye-opener to possibilities of creating the best African cities. ‘It will also serve as a basis for more collaborations between different organisations in creating a sustainable African city,’ he said.
Mrs Elisabeth Glenn, Baltimore, USA County Department of Planning former Deputy Director, noted that the Pan African City project can only be achieved through the power of relationships and the desire to build a better future for African diaspora communities. ‘Ultimately, the effort is about empowering people to make decisions about their own futures through deliberative and thoughtful approaches. I hope it will become a long-term institutional effort that builds on our strengths, leverages our incredible basic knowledge, and promotes transatlantic cooperation to build resilient, sustainable, and vital communities,’ she said.
You can watch the symposium at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjNmmM6mGVU