Lecture 1. Belgian Colonial Anti-Urbanization Policies in Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi

This lecture provides an overview of Belgium’s colonial anti-urbanization policies for its African colonies. The cities of Kinshasa, Bujumbura, and Kigali (the present-day capitals of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda, respectively) were all molded by Belgian policies. However, Belgium differed from many other colonial powers in that it did not establish grand imperial cities in Africa. In fact, Belgium often followed “anti-urbanization” policies that were intended to safeguard Belgian dominance by preventing a large African population from amassing in the cities. Today, the leaders of these same cities are deploying some similar strategies as they deal with the challenges of unplanned growth and informal settlement on their quest to become globally competitive cities. This lecture puts the past in dialogue with the present by first providing a detailed historical narrative of the colonial era, and subsequently addressing the legacies left behind by colonial urban planning and development policies. How did Belgium’s colonial anti-urbanization policies shape the ambitions of these post-independence African nations to develop global cities? List of sites and objects presented: 1. Léopoldville (Kinshasa) trading post, 1884 2. Léopoldville urban plan, 1919 3. Léopoldville workers’ camp, 1920s 4. Paysannats (agricultural settlement schemes), 1930s 5. Colonial era satellite cities 6. Imidugudu (villagization schemes) 7. Akajagari (informal settlements) 8. Contemporary satellite cities such as La Cité du Fleuve 9. Global cities

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