Urban Fold

Why Are Public Spaces Unusual in Africa?

Stacy Passmore writes that public spaces "take on a different form and meaning in a West African city."

Speaking with people in Ghana, Passmore learns that parks were a European tradition brought over with colonialism and are not important to African culture:

"The consistently high temperature also makes it very difficult to want to spend much time in a large un-shaded open area, thus trees are extremely powerful attractions that automatically create informal gathering spaces; the wide branches forming the space of an outdoor room. Larger conservation-style parks exist, but they are disjointed from daily life and are treated like sanctuaries, (Kakum or Mole in Ghana) functionally operating for tourists."

Passmore concludes that street life functions in much the way that Westerners use parks, for public life, commerce and interaction.

Full Story: The Social Life of Public Space in West Africa

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