This keynote by Edgar Pieterse from the [African Centre for Cities], asks us to reimagine our territories and the knowledge systems with a new language in the pedagogy, economics and politics of practice. In other words, understanding the tactile nature of systems which involve people, spectrum and networks interwoven toward action and the lack thereof.
Therefore, while the media arena advocates for apathy and public inaction, his volume of work and efforts inspire a new direction in thinking and practice for transforming territories in complex participatory ways. Particularly relevant for our day-to-day goal setting is to align our tasks with the regional and continental dreams that articulate an aggressively evolved society of intra-African unity, transaction and relationship design. Most intimidatingly is our individual and community roles through various platforms that articulate, reflect and reorientate our conceptions of value and quality beyond the colonial and post-apartheid narratives we’re too keen to intellectually persist with.
In one lecture with my students I emphasised that they need to take note of the fact that we are in the first era of genuine reform, industrialisation, social change and institutional disruption. We’ve seen significant “growth” in economic, and exploitative forms. However, this is the first time development stands at our door ‘stranger than fiction’, with a new language, vocabulary and intellect. The pressing matter here is how as citizen, or local actor, how do you voice and apply the degree to which your ability engages with the real and tangible trajectories of the affluent, excluded and included in a just and continuously developmental manner. Of course they had no real answer. Some felt that it was a motivational ‘note’. However, with the existing and forthcoming work in local area development I will attempt to demonstrate what my personal philosophy means in a tactile, tangible and unusually academic manner. The role of academia in this process is to deviate significantly from teaching recipes , and enabling students, officials, industry and communities to make ends meet across the complex interfaces between technical prowess and humanity in action.
As students return to our contact sessions, and mounting pressures emerge toward ‘examination’ I am reflecting rather deeply on my approach to the programmes our team has facilitated. Particularly from a curriculum design perspective and the participatory nature of intermediary city making. Long standing questions now require even deeper thought, knowledge assembly and intricate dialogue. Sometimes I wonder how colleagues manifest such rich volumes of work, advisory and practice. Other times I long for solitude to explore these dynamic issues. However, perhaps as a source of clarity this keynote presents, and articulates some of my own ambitions in the transportation system space for intermediary city making, teaching, learning and dialogue. Genuinely hope it provides a guiding point to whomever is looking at it too. A take home for me is the need for deep learning, and the friction in between enabling such a teaching-learning environment; public sector capacity engaging platform; and industrial nuances that certainly need to be challenged.