Deborah Potts Is Reader in Human Geography at King's College London. She Has Spent More Than 30 Years Researching and Lecturing on the Economic and Social Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa. She Tells Olivia Edward Why Africa's Rapid Urbanisation Is a Myth and Asks What Capitalism Has Ever Done for the African People

By Edward, Olivia | Geographical, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Deborah Potts Is Reader in Human Geography at King's College London. She Has Spent More Than 30 Years Researching and Lecturing on the Economic and Social Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa. She Tells Olivia Edward Why Africa's Rapid Urbanisation Is a Myth and Asks What Capitalism Has Ever Done for the African People


Edward, Olivia, Geographical


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I was born in the UK but my formative childhood years were spent abroad. My father was in the Foreign Office, so that's where my interest in other countries began. When I was five, he was sent to the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and then we were posted to places such as Berlin, South Korea and Malawi. But, like him, I've always been an Africanist. It's something in the blood, almost spiritual.

I think if you've lived all over the world and you're curious and interested in people. you start seeing how different places are, not only in the obvious physical sense. but in the human and social sense, too. You start asking, 'Why?' And that's the essence of geography. History's central question is, 'Why was it like that then?', geography's is. 'Why is it like this here?'

People working in African studies despair of the media's projection of Africa. So often it tends to be about negative things such as poverty or conflict. In southern Africa, apartheid has gone and conflict has significantly reduced--in fact, there hasn't been any open war there for ten years. Poverty is a huge issue, but it isn't the prism through which to look at Africa.

It's a myth that urbanisation is occurring faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else. The populations of many urban areas are growing rapidly, but in many countries, levels of urbanisation are increasing slowly, if at all. Natural nationwide population increase rather than net in-migration is the main reason for growing urban populations.

The fallacy came about because limited resources meant that there were fewer people collecting data. During the first two decades of independence for many African countries--during the 1960s and '70s--lots of censuses were carried out because people were very keen to enumerate their societies and many governments had big development plans. But severe state cuts during the late '70s and '80s meant that the data were no longer collected, and international organisations began projecting data from previous decades.

African countries did develop and urbanise rapidly during those first decades of independence. There was a shift from agricultural to urban-based jobs. Small cities grew very rapidly. Lusaka, for example, grew at 13 per cent from 1963 to 1969. But the oil crises of the '70s led to nations borrowing money they couldn't repay when interest rates rose. As a result, the World Bank stepped in. It restructured their economies so that they could pay their debts but stipulated that future development would be on its terms.

The zeitgeist at the lime was to roll back the state and allow market allocation of resources. As a result, state investment in education and infrastructure was curtailed and trade was liberalised. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Deborah Potts Is Reader in Human Geography at King's College London. She Has Spent More Than 30 Years Researching and Lecturing on the Economic and Social Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa. She Tells Olivia Edward Why Africa's Rapid Urbanisation Is a Myth and Asks What Capitalism Has Ever Done for the African People
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.