Dystopian Cities: How The Tyranny of Specialists Destroy African Cities

ABOUT Archimedes Muzenda

Archimedes Muzenda
Archimedes Muzenda is a city planner and researcher on African urbanisation and urban development. He has worked across Africa conducting research and supporting African cities with technical advisory on urban development. Across the continent he has worked with various cities from those e More...



A revelation of the spatial atrocities committed by specialists in development of African cities.

For more than fifty centuries, cities were planned and developed by generalists. The town planners were Jacks of all trades yet masters of none. In the last fifty years however, this all changed. Town planning dismantled into various specialists – masters of a single trade. Traffic engineers, urban environmentalists, modernist architects, town planning regulators, Marxist and postmodern scholars . As these specialists focus on their specialities, governed by ideological loyalty and possessiveness, they work in isolations a practice that is pushing African cities off the cliff.

In Dystopian Cities Archimedes Muzenda reveals the destruction that specialists are creating in cities across Africa. He reveals how the tyrannical nature of specialists is creating fragmented cities. How the spatial atrocities committed by specialists are turning African cities into a dystopian state. In doing so, Muzenda sets basis for specialists to find one another if they are to create prosperous, sustainable and just cities – cities that are liveable.

The idea to write this book came from various interactions I had with various own planners across the African continent. I had seen how disastrous cities across Africa were developing. I had met various specialists who knew only about their speciality and were dogmatic, shutting down others in meetings and workshops. I listened as town planners and policymakers praise some of the most disastrous urban development models ever happened on earth. How they wanted them in their cities. I became frightened when such models started rolling out across the continent. In all the frustration however, I could not find much writing on African cities that was outside the politics and political economy of urban development. I wanted to understand, under the shell of toxic politics, how are town planners doing in their responsibilities. I spent few years hooping from one conference to another presenting my arguments to other town planners and urban studies scholars. Then I realised, the arguments were as fragmented as the specialists planners themselves. I needed to put them together and communicate with the people who live in cities, citizens. So began the writing of this book.

"Archimedes Muzenda understands the evolution of cities in an illuminating way. His use of global history to put urbanization of Africa into global perspective debunks so many myths about African cities...This is a must read book on African cities beyond the hype...he takes no prisoners in his polemic against what he calls specialists." - African Planning Magazine