WHEN TOWNS EXPLODE— One of the major motivations behind the research and writing I do is based on exponential growth. Many of the major cities in Africa are extremely beneficial— José Gómez-Ibáñez describes it as a collection of opportunities that comes with problems only good quality infrastructure can solve. What we know about city making in Africa is very little besides reflecting on pre-colonial depictions, garments and other archeological puzzles. Yet we seem to not fit the urban-rural piece together partly because towns suffer from stigmatization and fear. The stigma was kicked out of the vocabulary of Rustenburg when one official said: “Don’t call the North West Province rural—were much more than that!” In the same breath that some people are surprised when we say I’m from Ga-Rankuwa, not Pitori: which is pretty far out and not part of the Bophuthatswana heritage. In this picture we’ve been sitting at the back of a bakkie (van)—brothers and I— taking pictures and talking. This is in the southern parts of Limpopo, and a taxi rank makes the horizon. Somewhere in my mind I see a skyscraper at this intersection and a few other developments which are yet to manifest. However the exponential nature of growth in towns comes at a cost—the lift is heavy and the gains are commensurate. There’s a bit of a crisis if R 31bn was not utilized due to underspending in our towns—not corruption. A number government programs exist to fund high impact capital projects in towns that can uplift the 18 million people who are targeted. While much of the land is between land claim processes and tribal authorities, industrial appetites are growing all over the country and throughout our continent.
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