AFRICAN CROSSROADS 2019
Mombasa, Kenya | Nov 20-23, 2019
This is a guest post by Hivos.
African Crossroads is a community of future-oriented African thinkers and doers which meets annually to exchange and critically reflect on the most cutting-edge entrepreneurial, scientific, artistic, and technological developments anchored in African intellectual and technological traditions. Through design exhibitions, invigorating workshops, art installations, and more, this three-day event will spark deep discussions about the latest inventions and innovations in science, art, and technology. Organized by Hivos, African Crossroads convenes a yearly, cross-continental and multidisciplinary gathering for African artists, entrepreneurs, computer scientists, designers, researchers, and philosophers to exchange knowledge and to positively shape the future of African societies. The 2019 edition of African Crossroads will take place from November 20-23, 2019 in Mombasa, Kenya. Additional information about the upcoming gathering will be posted in the coming months.
For centuries Africa’s cities have been connected by networks of knowledge and innovation. In the 21st century some of these ancient meeting places have grown into the fastest growing cities in the world. By the end of this century Dar es Salaam, Kinshasa and Lagos are expected to grow into mega-agglomerates with over 80 million inhabitants. This rapid growth in population goes hand in hand with pressing urban challenges such as traffic congestion and pollution, unsustainable food production, increasing levels of stress, and the lack of public spaces (e.g. parks, playgrounds).
This transformation of African cities is changing the way they are being experienced by their inhabitants. From the sweet smells of the shisha cafes in the streets of downtown Cairo to the smell of toxic damps of the Agbogbloshie, the large e-waste sites in Ghana. From the sound of a Kora played by a Malinese storyteller to the ticking of the keyboards in the hackerspaces of Kenya’s Silicon Savannah, and the electronic beats of nightlife in Lagos.
Simultaneously the city is increasingly sensing us. Sensors gather data to monitor everything we do; the sound we produce, the water we use, in real time and at a granular level. We are not only talking about smart cities but also about sensing cities. The city is transforming into a sensory being; a living sentient, organism. But what roles do the senses, the skin and the cities’ nervous system play in the different urban-built up areas in African cities and across them? How do the African cities of today and tomorrow sound, taste, feel or move, and how do these cities sense us in return?
To answer this, we need new, unconventional approaches that allows people to imagine the future. The city needs to be explored in all its multi-sensory aspects in order to imagine their urban future. We need to bring together the expertise of bakers, urban planners, musicians as well as tech entrepreneurs, scientists and gardeners in order to imagine the future of Africa’s cities.
African Crossroads, a four-day event presented by Hivos, will gather 150 participants from November 20 to 23 in Mombasa, Kenya, to connect, collaborate, and explore the diversity of African cities in all its multi-sensory aspects. African Crossroads will focus on four ‘tracks’. How do the African cities of today and tomorrow sound, taste, feel or move, and how do these cities sense us in return?
On November 23, we will showcase our findings.
TASTE: This track will focus on the latest developments, enterprises, and innovations in urban food to unveil the taste of the African cities. What is street food and sustainable food in the 21st century?
SOUND: This track will focus on the voices of the African cities, the oral history, storytellers, music industries etc. on the continent. What are the sounds of the African cities?
FEEL: This track will focus on the urban fabric of the city. How do we feel the city? What is the skin of the city? We will explore fashion and other ways the city touches us.
MOVE: This track will focus on the movements and energy of the African cities, and will spark discussions on energy streams, urban transportations and logistics. How does the city move us?