“Pick up any academic or popular publication that deals with urban life in Africa and be prepared to be overrun by caricature, hyperbole, stereotypes and moralistic hogwash,” declarers the preface to the first instalment of The African Cities Reader. “It is almost impossible to get any meaningful purchase on what is actually going on in the vibrant markets, streets, pavements, taxi ranks, hotel lobbies, drinking halls, clubs, bedrooms, rooftops, gardens, dump sites, beach fronts, river edges, cemeteries, garages, basements, and other liminal spaces of daily life and the imaginary.”
Published jointly by the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and Chimurenga Magazine the reader is a “journal-like platform where Africans tell their own stories, draw their own maps and represent their own spatial topographies”. With submissions from writers such as Teju Cole (Open City), Chris Abani (Graceland) and Jonny Steinberg (Little Liberia) among others, the result is an extraordinary and exhilarating mix of reportage, history and self-writing. The complete first and second editions of The African Cities Reader are up for download.