Planning for exclusion in Abuja

At Open Democracy, an interesting piece on the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

Nigeria, a nation deeply scarred by colonialism and years of civil war, took the decision in 1991 to build a new capital city at the country’s centre.

In an 1983 interview, the Minister of the Federal Capital Development Authority, Alhaji Iro Dan Musa claimed that the government wanted a capital city which “belonged to all Nigerians” best achieved by “starting afresh in Abuja”.

Abuja is Africa’s first modernist capital and follows in the tradition of other planned cities across the world, from Brasilia (Brazil), to Washington D.C. (USA) to Chandigarh (India). In contrast to Lagos the former capital of Nigeria, Abuja has been carefully planned to project a particular aesthetic to a global audience, inclusive of manicured lawns, un-congested roads, and buildings infused with a nouveau African-centeredness. In Abuja, the Nigerian government intended to build an African utopia, one which would represent a unified, independent Nigeria for the country’s fractured, inequal social groups. Yet despite grand, utopian plans for a new and modern capital, in planning and building Abuja an all too familiar pattern of exclusion and disparity has emerged.

My photo below gives some sense of how the city looks as the planners intended – the article has some images of things they would rather you didn’t see.

Various 061 (800x600)

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