In this important new book AbdouMaliq Simone explores the nature of these alliances, portraying urban districts as sites of enduring transformations through rhythms that mediate between the needs of residents not to draw too much attention to themselves and their aspirations to become a small niche of exception. Here we discover an urban South that exists as dense rhythms of endurance that turn out to be vital for survival, connectivity, and becoming.
Drawing on his nearly fifteen years of work in African cities—as an activist, teacher, development worker, researcher, and advisor to ngos and local governments—Simone provides a series of case studies illuminating the provisional networks through which most of Africa’s urban dwellers procure basic goods and services. He examines informal economies and social networks in Pikine, a large suburb of Dakar, Senegal; in Winterveld, a neighborhood on the edge of Pretoria, South Africa; in Douala, Cameroon; and among Africans seeking work in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He contextualizes these particular cases through an analysis of the broad social, economic, and historical conditions that created present-day urban Africa. For the City Yet to Come is a powerful argument that any serious attempt to reinvent African urban centers must acknowledge the particular history of these cities and incorporate the local knowledge reflected in already existing informal urban economic and social systems.