New Towns on the Cold War Frontier - Part 2, Urban Planning as a Weapon in the Cold War

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New Towns Cold War Frontier

Part 2

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*Part 2

Export to Developing Countries

Urban Planning as a Weapon in the Cold War

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The spread of New Towns went into overdrive during decolonization. America and the USSR both used urban planning during this period as a means by which to increase their spheres of influence. For the capitalist world, the modernist New Towns were the harbingers of freedom and democracy. Competition with the communist block became greedily played out, using developing countries as chess pieces.

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Changpin, China

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Islamabad, Pakistan

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Tem a


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Tem a


The Flagship of Nkrumah's Pan-African Vision

Michelle Provoost

TEMA, GHANA

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The house in the picture looks like the average terraced house of the type that was standard in most Western European countries in the first decades after the Second World War: a rectangular block with one storey and a gable roof. The architectural style is modernist: clean-plastered, unadorned walls and orderly façade surfaces. Some functional details stand out, such as the cantilevered roof beams and the projecting white wall surface of what is most likely the bathroom on the first floor. The architecture is clearly related to the extended family of through-lounge terraced housing from the 1960s. But this house is clearly not glassy like its European counterpart. The window openings are small, there are no doors opening onto the garden and you cannot see through the living room from the street. The windows are partially covered by shutters, shadowed by hefty eaves and, moreover, they are unglazed. And although this house must surely have a kitchen, the woman of the house and her son are preparing food in the garden, pounding cassava in a wooden bowl with a big wooden stick.

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And so, all familiar architectural aspects notwithstanding, this is obviously not a dwelling in Cumbernauld or Vällingby. Instead, it is a middle-class house in Community IV of New Town Tema, close to the Ghanaian capital of Accra. Nature betrays the location even before architecture does: the palm trees in the front and back gardens are a dead giveaway of the tropical context. The pink and grey walls are too frivolous for an English Garden City. The mediocrely maintained


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and designed garden has a bumpy lawn and just a few shrubs. Residents have improvised property boundaries using piles of dissimilar stones. Still, this garden is very well-maintained by local standards. Indeed: most gardens in Tema are regarded as potential development sites rather than gardens. The neighbouring house demonstrates how that works out: a large, roofed terrace towers over a fence made of unfinished blocks of concrete, covering the entire garden. This is quite a common sight in Tema: houses are extended by adding on bedrooms, a shop or storage space until the entire garden, which planners intended as an ornamental or kitchen garden, has disappeared beneath the concrete. Does this mean the original good intentions of the designers were misguided? Well-intended, but with too little knowledge of local customs and traditions to understand that growing vegetables and maintaining a kitchen garden may well be successful in England or Sweden, but not here, in Ghana? To understand that this place has other priorities, that due to the pace of urbanization and the urgent need for space, the typology of a terraced house with garden for a nuclear family was doomed to fail? Or are there grounds for a different conclusion and was the introduction of the Western, open arrangement of orthogonal row housing with lots of gardens and public space a godsend for African cities beset by population growth? After all, the arrangement includes plenty of space to adjust the Western model to local customs and to meet the changing needs of the population in an organic way. These are questions that present themselves in many (developing) countries with a non-Western culture that have imported modernist urban concepts. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Tema was planned by Western architects and engineers, its designers were well aware of the fact that the introduction of a new urban model would inevitably affect existing cultural patterns, customs and habits. Where some saw this as positive and knowingly pursued a cultural transformation, others were more cautious. English architects Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, who designed the housing for the resettlement of the Ga-inhabitants of the old Tema village, tried to preserve as much of the local culture and lifestyle as possible. Greek planner Constantinos Doxiadis, on the other hand, who developed the master plan for the New Town Tema, did not particularly intend to brutalize existing lifestyles, but did aim to educate the Ghanaian people and guide them in the direction of economic progress and modernization. His approach formed a perfect match for the ambitions of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana. The New Town of Tema was simultaneously the symbol, the starting point and the catalyst of this modernization.

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KWAME NKRUMAH Kwame Nkrumah’s reign began in 1952, when he became the first elected leader of the Gold Coast Parliament, and lasted until his deposition as president of Ghana during a military coup in 1966. Over the years, his reputation changed diametrically several times. He was honoured as a great statesman in Ghana itself, as one of the country’s founding fathers, the champion of independence and of the pan-African ideal. From the 1952 election onward, when an overwhelming majority voted for the imprisoned activist and the English rulers released him from the jail where he was held as a political prisoner, he grew into a popular hero. In the book The State of Africa (2005), historian Martin Meredith describes how Nkrumah, a Marxist socialist who had studied economics, sociology and psychology in the USA, reached star status in Ghana in no time. It took him a single day to transform from inmate into premier:

With his flair for publicity, Nkrumah was forever in the limelight, dominating the headlines. His life was a whirlwind of meetings, speeches, tours and rallies. Party newspapers built up the image of a man of supernatural powers, a prophet, a new Moses who would lead his people towards the cherished land of independence. 1

Newspapers called the small but charismatic Nkrumah ‘Man of Destiny, Star of Africa’.

Ordinary people came to regard him as a messiah capable of performing miracles. People venerated him in hymns and prayers; supporters recited phrases like: ‘I believe 397

1.  Martin Meredith, The State of Africa, A History of Fifty Years of Independence (London, 2005).


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in Kwame Nkrumah.’ From early morning, queues would form outside his home, people seeking advice on anything from marital disputes to sickness, infertility, job recommendations, financial assistance and settlements of debts. 2

Although Nkrumah’s economic policies would later elicit much criticism, his investments and modernization plans were of the utmost importance to the new nation-state. Some of them keep the country afloat to this day, like the Volta River Dam that still produces the lion’s share of Ghana’s electricity. In Nkrumah’s vision for an independent Ghana, the country would achieve progress and modernization by presenting itself as a state-run industrial power. Of course the cacao export, which had been the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy up to then, remained important, but Nkrumah sought to professionalize and modernize the cocoa production by introducing Soviet-inspired state farms.3 However, the country’s industrialization was the showpiece of his modernization efforts. The country’s five-year plans included an impressive number of state enterprises, the most famous of them the Kwame Nkrumah Steelworks, followed by the State Fishing Corporation, the Ghana National Construction Corporation, the State Gold Mining Corporation, the State Fibre Bag Corporation and the Vegetable Oils Corporation. Then there were the factories for the production and processing of cacao, oil, rice, fruit, meat, sugar, pharmaceuticals, shoes and textiles.4 Nkrumah wanted to kickstart Ghana’s development and achieve striking results quickly. Because of the unprecedented number of investments in industry and infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, schools, hospitals), he initially managed to give the impression that his policy would be a success. However, historians agree that he acted rashly and was too quick to spend too much money on ill-considered projects: ‘Impatient for results on a spectacular scale, Nkrumah pressed on with one project after another – with factories, steelworks, mining ventures and

2.  Ibid., 23. 3.  Nkrumah gave special attention to peasant production cooperatives. In the most prevalent type, the peasants worked in the collective fields several days a week but spent the majority of their time working on their individual plots, which brought them their main income. The settlements in the virgin lands (particularly the resettlements caused by the Volta River Project) attempted to form an advanced type of cooperative, in which the means of production were collectively owned and farmers were paid in accordance with work performed. These settlements were to be supplied with electricity and water and plans called for the centralized construction of housing, community centres, aid posts and schools. By 1962-1965, 40 such settlements had been built. That was the beginning of the establishment of state farms that supplied raw materials to Nkrumah’s numerous industries in Tema and beyond. By 1966, there were about 114 state farms. The Soviet Union supplied machinery, tools, construction materials, fertilizers, chemicals and the technical and administrative personnel to Ghana’s state farms. 4.  Ghana had more than 50 state companies by 1960. See: Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 1), 185.

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Ghana parliament with Queen Elisabeth

Nkrumah released from prison in 1952

Nlrumah’s government

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shipyards – almost any idea, in fact, that caught his imagination. Foreign businessmen soon discovered that anyone with a bright idea and a ready bribe stood a good chance of obtaining a deal.’5 Some projects had no practical use at all but were nevertheless implemented for the sake of their prestigious character. Millions were squandered away, for instance on the construction of a 10-million-pound conference centre to impress other African heads of state. The centre was used just once, in 1965, for the third summit of the Organisation for African Unity, an organization (headed by Nkrumah, among others) that strove for Pan-African unity. In 1961, when the price of cocoa on the world market suddenly dropped to one-fifth of the price the product had yielded in the 1950s, big problems emerged. The country fell into debt, the industrialization programme grounded to a halt, agriculture turned a loss, all capital left the country and the formerly most prosperous country in Africa went bankrupt in 1965. In the following year, a military coup saw Nkrumah overthrown with the support of the USA.

VOLTA RIVER DAM One of the main obstacles Nkrumah encountered on his way towards industrialization after his rise to power was the absence of sufficient electricity and an adequate port. Although there was a port in Takoradi, this city was far away from the capital Accra in the west of Ghana. Nkrumah therefore decided to prioritize a plan for a hydroelectric dam that the English had been preparing since the 1940s. This was to result in the most extensive building project in the history of Ghana: at the time, the Volta River Dam was the largest dam in the world. Nkrumah saw constructing the dam as a way for Ghana to leapfrog into a developed country. Most probably, Nkrumah’s regime benefited from the flow of ‘conscience-money’ while realizing the dam: the goodwill subsidies that the international community channelled into Ghana after the country had become independent. The Nkrumah government managed to make the most of the sensitivities in post-colonial relations. This held true for racial issues in the segregated USA, too: Nkrumah’s Finance Minister, Komla Gbedemah, pulled a stunt that not only parachuted him onto the front pages of all American newspapers, but also resulted in a profitable commitment:

5.  Ibid., 184.

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Hospital Kumasi

Volta bridge at Adomi

Road building program

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awaiting permission from C.A. Doxiadis Archives Hospital in Accra by Doxiadis Associates. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Photographs 34435, II © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

awaiting permission from C.A. Doxiadis Archives

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In October 1957, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Nkrumah’s finance minister, attended a conference of commonwealth finance ministers at Ottawa, Canada. He then followed it up with a short visit to the USA. While there, K.A. Gbedemah was invited to Maryland State College to deliver a lecture. On his way to the school at Donver, Delaware, he dropped by one of the Howard Johnson’s restaurants and asked for two glasses of orange juice for his personal secretary and himself. After several hours of waiting, the waitress returned with two glasses covered and said that they could not be served there, because of ‘their colour’. Gbedemah got so furious that the manager came and he also repeated the same thing, adding that if he did serve them, he would lose his franchise. This incident became the subject of Gbedemah’s lecture that day at the Maryland State College, and the following morning, it hit the tabloids of the major newspapers.

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In a bid to calm the situation, U.S. president Eisenhower, invited Gbedemah to breakfast and asked him what he was in the country for. He answered that he was passing through to the World Bank to seek possible funding for the Volta River Project. Eisenhower and then vice president, Richard Nixon, became interested and asked how much it


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would cost. Nixon was then asked by his boss to talk with the State Department, and American involvement in the Volta River Project became assured. 6

However, it was not quite as easy to get the dam financed as the above excerpt from Kojo T. Vieta’s The Flagbearers of Ghana (1999) suggests. The process was subject to political mood swings resulting from Nkrumah’s position on the world stage. After the Americans had pledged to support him, Nkrumah undeterredly continued to set himself up as the independent champion of pan-African unity, making friends among both Westerners and communists. By 1958, he had entered into diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and was making increasingly critical comments about the foreign policy of the USA. After he held one trenchant speech in 1961 during a UN General Assembly meeting and another during the Belgrade conference of non-aligned countries, the USA called off the signing of the economic aid agreement that would have financed the Volta Dam.7 In accordance with the then prevailing Cold War mores, the Soviet Union subsequently appeared on stage to take over its financing. This offer sent shivers down the spine of the USA and the UK, who feared a repeat of the Egyptian Aswan Dam debacle just a few years earlier (1955). The Western powers swallowed their words and in 1962, the UK, the USA, the World Bank and Nkrumah reached an agreement about a £35 million mega loan.8 While the Volta River Dam can be regarded as the project with which Nkrumah put Ghana on the map, and therefore as the showpiece of independence, there are just as many arguments for considering the dam an example of the Ghanaian economy’s postcolonial dependence on Western economies. Even though the dam served to supply electricity to Nkrumah’s many new factories and in part to Ghanaian households, in practice one party benefited most. This was the American aluminium producer Valco (Volta Aluminium Company), a collaboration of the Kaiser Aluminium Company and Reynolds Metals. In return for a loan to build the dam, Valco obtained a multi-year contract for the supply of very cheap electricity. It wasn’t until years later (1985), when the price Valco paid for electricity turned out to be even lower than its production price, that the terms of the contract were changed and adjusted.

6.  Kojo T. Vieta, The Flagbearers of Ghana (Accra, 1999). 7.  Kwame Nkrumah, Appeal for World Peace, Address delivered on 2 September 1961 at the Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, Belgrade, Accra, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1961. 8.  M.S. Gill, Immortal Heroes of the World (New Delhi, 2005), 186; Kwame Nkrumah, ‘Presenting the Volta River project, Accra’, 25 March, 1963, www.nkrumahinfobank.org/article. php?id=431&c=51.

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Ghana flag at UN in NY

Signing the contract

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New Towns for the resettlement of the villages Building dam and settlements

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In addition, the aluminium factory hardly contributed to the Ghanaian economy at all. Though the plant was supposed to process Ghanaian bauxite, it was in fact easier and cheaper for Kaiser to import raw materials from Jamaica. Apart from the jobs the factory created, none of its profits remained in Ghana. Only 20 per cent of the electricity the dam generated became available to Ghanaian households. Furthermore, the creation of Lake Volta and the construction of the dam had necessitated the painful resettlement of 80,000 residents.9 When (neo-)colonialism is defined as ‘a means by which the metropolitan power extended its markets for manufactured goods and by which the colonies, in turn, supplied raw materials to the metropolis’, the Volta River Dam and the associated contracts, which cannot be regarded separately, are a clever move of the American government and industry, rather than a step forward in the economic and political emancipation of Ghana.10 In addition to the electricity supplied by the Volta River Dam, a harbour was necessary for the import and export of aluminium, cocoa beans, printed fabrics and all other raw materials and products. The best location for a new port, just east of Accra, was occupied at the time by a small village called Tema, inhabited by members of the Ga tribe. Given the level of ambition, the scope of the modernization and the importance to the national economy, it is not surprizing that authorities made a radical decision: the village of Tema had to go and its location would become the heart of the new port city Tema. Like so many other New Towns, Tema can therefore be considered as an inseparable part of a comprehensive infrastructural and industrial complex – in this case of the Volta River Dam and the connected regional planning. The way work on the planning of Tema began in the early 1950s suggests that the scale of the task did not quite register with the authorities concerned. The care and detail with which the teams worked would soon be superseded by the surge of urbanization the project itself brought on. The ‘ordinary’ tools of urban planning and architecture known from the (much smaller and less complex) English New Towns – their first generation was

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9.  For a description of the resettlement schemes that were part of the Volta River Project, see Viviana d’ Auria en Bruno De Meulder, ‘Unsettling Landscapes: The Volta River Project. New Settlements between Tradition and Transition’, OASE, no. 82 (2010), 115-138. 10.  A.D. King, ‘Exporting Planning: the Colonial and Neo-colonial Experience’, in: Gordon E. Cherry (ed.), Shaping an Urban World (London, 1980), 206.


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under construction at the time – were inadequate to bring this development project to a successful conclusion. The fact that the English New Towns were also used as an organizational and urban planning model was unsurprising, considering the (English) background of officials and designers in the former Gold Coast. Until independence in 1957, it was self-evident that spatial planning, urban development and infrastructure were run and decided upon by the English rulers; English architects and engineers designed the towns, the streets and the bridges. In 1951 the fishing village of Tema, which had fewer than 2,000 residents at the time, was designated a ‘growth centre’ to become a port city with 75,000 inhabitants. The original residents were to be resettled a few kilometres to the east. The Ministry of Housing and Town and Country Planning was responsible for the planning of the new village called Tema Manhean, while the harbour would be built by another body, the Gold Coast Railway and Harbour Administration. This organization was launched in 1952, the year that Nkrumah was elected president. To prevent land speculation, the government issued an ordinance to expropriate a 63-square-mile area for the construction of Tema’s city, harbour and industrial zone. Another ordinance decreed the creation of a special body for the building of the city: the Tema Development Corporation. This organization was modelled after the English New Town administrative bodies. That very year, English planner Alfred Edward Savige Alcock presented a design for the port city,11 modelled on the English New Towns comprising five neighbourhoods with a total population of 50,000 residents.12 The commission to design the housing for the resettlement of Tema village was given to English architects Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew. Both projects, the new village and the new city, were developed simultaneously from 1952 to 1960.

11.  Initial Proposals for the Development of the New Town of Tema by the Town Planning Adviser, Tema 1952. To design the plan, Alcock collaborated with Helga Richards and Denis C. Robinson. 12.  At the time, authorities decided to establish the aluminium smelter in Kpong rather than in Tema (a decision they later reversed); this explains why the population was smaller than initially anticipated. The adjusted estimate was revised within a few years as well, and turned out much higher.

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Volta River Dam

Map Volta scheme

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TEMA MANHEAN Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew were the obvious choice to design the new village: they had been working as planning advisers in the four English colonies since the Second World War and were internationally recognized experts on tropical architecture.13 Moreover, they had carried out several projects with A.E.S. Alcock, who had succeeded Fry in 1945 as Ghana’s Town Planning Adviser, more specifically the model village Asawasi near Kumasi in 1946.14 Fry and Drew and Alcock shared the same mentality: they adopted a hands-on approach while working on many large and small cities in the colonies. Starting their planning activities with the African chiefs they kept abreast of everything that went on. They visited small villages, walked around in processions that included all the village dignitaries and talked and inventoried until pragmatic ideas to improve the town or village layout came up. Fry explained:

We saw planning of course as being self-help. We found easy ways of making latrines, easy ways of digging wells. We found out what kind of trees to grow. We were intensely practical and this was Jane absolutely to a tee. 15

After two years of developing these small-scale projects, they had gained enough experience to publish a small handbook: Village Housing in the Tropics. It was a handy booklet that every African official or designer could carry in his pocket and that contained long lists of dos and don’ts, with information and advice on the construction of roads, latrines, houses, markets and so on. It became a great success and went through several editions.16 Their approach consisted primarily of the pragmatic interpretation of vernacular building techniques, an eye for the local climate and finding the best orientation for ventilation and sunlight. These were extremely important themes prior to the introduction of electricity and air conditioning; afterwards – for better or worse – they soon lost their significance.

13.  Maxwell Fry was in the army and stationed in Gold Coast, where he had nothing to do, really, and was bored out of his mind. By chance, the resident minister Lord Stevenson heard of his plight, took him out of the army and made him the planning adviser of the four colonies (Gold Coast, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia). ‘Max Fry. Inspirations, Friendships and Achievements of a Lifetime in the Modern Movement’, Building, no. 4 (31 October 1975), 56. 14.  ‘A.E.S. Alcock and the planning of Asawasi, Kumasi’, transnationalarchitecturegroup.wordpress.com/tag/drew/ accessed 20 December 2013. 15.  ‘Max Fry’, op. cit. (note 13), 56. 16.  E.M. Fry and J.B. Drew, Village Housing in the Tropics (London, 1947). Two publictions continued the earlier book: Tropical Architecture in the Humid Tropics (1955) and Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones (1964).

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The English government had pledged 200 million pounds towards the development of Ghana once the country was independent in 1957 and as part of this package Fry and Drew received a commission to carry out a school programme. It resulted in a dozen schools.17 Their ‘tropicalism’ consisted of non-monumental, abstract concrete architecture with modest decorative patterns made of half-open brickwork. They avoided a harsh, rationalistic approach by making use of the territory, height differences and views. At the same time, they were also involved in the realization of the first section of the English New Town Harlow and worked with Le Corbusier in Chandigarh for three years (1951-1954).

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17.  Schools designed by Fry and Drew in Ghana/Togoland: Wesley Girls School, Cape Coast; School and College, Aburi; Prempeh College, Kumasi; Opukware School, Kumasi; Adisadel College, Cape Coast; Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast; Apowa Training School; Amedzoffe School; Mawuli School, Ho. See: Fry/Drew/Knight/Creamer (London, 1978), office brochure.


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Despite the broad experience Fry and Drew had in dealing with Ghanaian chiefs and despite their practical approach, satisfying the Ga population of the fishing village of Tema was hard work. Negotiations about the plan and the dwellings went on for ever; the first designs were drawn around 1952, but it wasn’t until 1959 that the first residents finally moved to their new accommodations.18 The decision to build a new village for the Ga tribe rather than offer them housing in the New Town Tema followed – as Fry said – from the desire to respect the identity of the village and its inhabitants.19 The seeds were thus sown for a dilemma that was never resolved: to preserve its authenticity, the tribe was sentenced to form an enclave of traditional life while modern progress erupted in full force and attraction in the adjoining city – which did not fail to affect the village. Tema village was established around 1800, when scattered peasant communities joined forces to organize themselves militarily and thus hold off the slave trade. Fry saw Tema as an authentic village, with many of its traditional social customs and structures intact: most of the men were fishermen and went fishing in canoes made of hollowed-out tree trunks, of which there were about 200 in the village. Most of the women also worked in fishing: they took care of the smoking, salting and cleaning of the fish or sold it at market. Farming was also a means of livelihood. The greatest challenge and task the design of Tema Manhean presented to Fry and Drew was the preservation of this social structure together with the tribe’s religious customs and rites.20 This was in line with the consensus on ‘Community Development’ in the developing world at

18.  Fry and Drew lived in Chandigarh from 1951 to 1954 and it is therefore likely that their senior staff and partners (Drake and Lasdun) also worked on the first designs. See: Iain Jackson and Rexford Assassie Oppong, ‘The Planning of Late Colonial Village Housing in the Tropics: Tema Manhean, Ghana’, Planning Perspectives, vol. 29 (2014) no. 4, 484. 19.  Fry/Drew/Knight/Creamer, op. cit. (note 17), 120. 20.  For the history of the development and backgrounds of Tema Manhean, also see: Jackson and Assassie Oppong, ‘The Planning of Late Colonial Village Housing in the Tropics’, op. cit. (note 18), 475-499.

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Tema, 1950

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the time, as described by, for instance, social scientist Peter du Sautoy. His definition of the starting points of community development sound surprisingly familiar:

It should be self-help, the initiative should come from the people themselves rather than being imposed from above, attention should be paid to the social situation of the people, their customs and beliefs must be known and respected and in all cases the community development agent must be close to the people, working for the ‘improvement of the traditional’. 21

First of all, Fry and Drew studied the family structure of Tema and its impact on the housing typology. This structure typically had men and women living in separate 21.  Review of: Peter du Sautoy, Community Development in Ghana (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), in: Ekistics (April 1959), 318.

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compounds. Per family, men and boys over 13 lived together, whereas women lived with their mothers and continued to do so after they wed. However, men were entitled to demand that their wives live with them and some 18 per cent of the existing compounds in the village comprised such mixed families, which were more like the European nuclear family.22 But the majority lived in the traditional way in compounds, which led Fry to say:

If we approach it as anthropologists we stress its semitribal or ‘extended family’ occupation, its communal hearth, its arrangements of small rooms round a courtyard, its self-sufficient, wall-enclosed unity. This, we say, is the expression of a way of life that must be respected. 23

The respect with which Fry and Drew studied the Ga culture did not mean they overly romanticized it; they were even extremely critical about some of its aspects, not only about the village or the quality of the dwellings, but also about the ‘cultural expressions’ of the Ga, like their pottery:

The conditions in the village were unhealthy, without proper sanitation; the air was polluted, fly nuisance excessive and the local lagoons, connected with religious rites and local fetishes, sources of mosquito breeding. The houses, built of rough mud plaster walls, were allowed to crumble away before any repairs were undertaken. Local thatching is practically non-existent, most of the buildings

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22.  Apart from that, polygamy was an essential part of the Ga-culture. Fry and Drew concluded that the women had a degree of autonomy and independence, which was valued: women were away on business trips for several weeks and they did not have to give up any profits they made. Meanwhile, the other women in the compound took over the care of children and other functions. The women slept four or five to a room and cooked outside on an open fire. 23.  Maxwell Fry, ‘Town Planning in West-Africa’, quoted in: Jackson and Assassie Oppong, ‘The Planning of Late Colonial Village Housing in the Tropics’, op. cit. (note 18), 487.


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being roofed with rusty corrugated iron sheets. There are few handicrafts and the local pottery is crude. 24

RESETTLEMENT What was unusual about the realization of Tema Manhean was the fact that the entire process, from planning to resettlement, was monitored, analysed, described and finally published in a book, titled Tema Manhean: A Study of Resettlement.25 As German planner Otto Koenigsberger, who had plenty of experience with the phenomenon himself, wrote in the introduction, such planning projects were never short on information about technical aspects as these were part of the ‘normal’ activities and task of the engineer. However, gathering information and writing reports about social and civic experience were not standard parts of New Town planning, especially in developing countries. All too often, the lack of information about ‘soft’ factors led to capital blunders and inhumane decisions and according to Koenigsberger, only very few large development projects were realized ‘without damaging the interest of minority groups which were in the way’.26 After planning Bhubaneswar in the 1960s, Koenigsberger became head of the Department of Tropical Studies of the Architectural Association in London: he knew what he was talking about. He recommended the study on new Tema village as a lesson to other planners and engineers that faced similar tasks. ‘It is particularly valuable because it describes an operation which met with great difficulties, and, despite the infinite care bestowed on it, only limited success.’27 The process was a lot like the contemporary resettlement of residents of a Western New Town in need of restructuring and was described in recognizable terms. The biggest problems that arose involved residents’ participation and the power structure 24.  Fry/Drew/Knight/Creamer, op. cit. (note 17), 120. 25.  G.W. Amarteifio, D.A.P. Butcher and D. Whitham, Tema Manhean, a Study of Resettlement (Accra: Ghana Universities Press, 1966). 26.  Ibid., V. 27. Ibid.

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within the village; conflicts were rooted in discussions about identity and social cohesion and coherence. The process was set up with infinite care, indeed: social workers from the Ghanaian government went from door to door to count how many people lived in the village and to take down their preferences, which resulted in a programme of requirements for Fry and Drew. The first obstacle was profound: the residents had to move to a location three miles away, but did not want to leave the sacred ground of their ancestors. Immediately after the publication of the ordinance that expropriated their land, the chief of the Ga tribe objected: nobody had consulted them and the land was being expropriated at a meager price.28 Moreover, it was taboo for the Ga tribe to settle outside the ‘arms’ of the two lagoons, which according to the government proposal would be the case. No longer protected by the lagoons, they would become an easy target for enemies. The Ga furthermore insisted they be given a new piece of land free of rent, since they owned the land to begin with. In addition, the system of crop rotation they had practiced since time immemorial was inconsistent with the government proposal of well-defined plots that were to be worked permanently. The Ga wanted the planned centre of Tema relocated, and they demanded better compensation for their land. However, the governor did not accept the resolution that they submitted; the government would not budge. The move would include the necessary relocation of 228 village gods buried in small mounds in the centre of each compound. The villagers were not at all confident that these gods could be moved without calamity befalling the village. There was vandalism: youngsters destroyed the prototypes of the new dwellings, were arrested and after their subsequent release grew into local heroes; the village chief who had agreed to negotiate with the government was deposed as a traitor. The youngsters who ousted him had the support of both the priests and the powerful tradeswomen of the village, who blamed the chief for agreeing to sell the land of the tribe to the government without any prior consultation. In the end, the government had no choice but to accept the resignation of ‘their’ chief and start all over again; it was the price they had to pay for not taking resident participation seriously from the onset. The 1952 social workers’ survey, intended to count the number of families and rooms, was highly inaccurate because most families would not even allow the social

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28.  ‘It has destroyed the shrines and sacred groves of their deities and ancestral gods; it has virtually wiped them of the face of the earth’, in: Amarteifio, Butcher and Whitham, Tema Manhean, op. cit. (note 25), Appendix C, 79.


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workers inside their homes. The residents were so hostile that a genuinely accurate investigation was impossible. Hostilities abated only when a resettlement office opened its doors in the village, employing no less than 26 social workers. These not only talked to the official representatives of the village, but also took the trouble to understand underlying, actual power structures and to learn who to ignore and who to take seriously. Endless village-political skirmishes followed, with participation evenings and hurt feelings that could be traced back to the resident’s belief that the reason they had been excluded from the decision-making process in the first place was a lack of respect. The process repeatedly hovered on the brink of violence and bloodshed, but in the end nothing but a few fights and arrests ensued. Gradually, a fragile peace emerged, with residents assuming a more cooperative role, but still making it clear that they would not change their minds just like that. When Fry and Drew had prototypes of the dwellings built – like they had in Chandigarh – these were rejected by the villagers, whom after a first inspection called them ‘only fit for pigeons’, even though they were much larger and more luxurious than the old village houses.29 The pent roofs were a stumbling block: they were considered ‘undignified’. Fry and Drew subsequently designed gable roofs. And while the moving vans stood waiting, the villagers swore on their major god that they would leave the old village over their dead bodies only: the few families that did take the plunge received death threats from the stay-behinds. In 1959, a gentle migratory trickle got going. However, when heavy rains washed away the bridge over the lagoon that all the moving vans had to cross it was interpreted as a warning from the gods. To make matters worse, someone died on each of the first three days of the resettlement. Opponents set up roadblocks. The government, by contrast, immediately destroyed every vacated property to prevent former residents from returning in the evening. The bulldozers were not always as careful as they could have been and accidents repeatedly involved damage to otutus or other fetishes. Guilty workers were threatened by angry mobs and barely escaped with their lives. Eventually, there were still several dozen families left that refused to leave voluntarily, but the government was resolved to complete the evacuation without violence. The use of an intimidating team of bulldozers and trucks ‘convinced’ the last families to leave. That night, they slaughtered one final sheep to perform the ritual necessary for the relocation of the otuto; they left under protest, taking with them the corrugated metal of their old roof – the most valuable part of the house. In March 1960, the evacuation 421

29.  Ibid., 10.


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was complete. Everybody was pleased that the operation, though not entirely successful, had nevertheless been accomplished without bloodshed. It yielded valuable lessons for the wave of resettlements that would follow in the context of the Volta River Dam scheme. Not everyone was opposed to the new village: there was also a boy named Emmanuel Adjeteh who was fascinated by the prospect of the new town that slowly loomed up beyond the small village where his family lived.30 Inspired by Fry and Drew, he would later become one of the most important Ghanaian architects to work on Tema and the founder of one of the first indigenous architecture firms, Plan Architects.31

WHAT DID THE NEW VILLAGE LOOK LIKE? The old village was comprised of four ‘wards’, each with its own name and organizational, political and military structure: Awudung, Ashamang, Aboitsewe and Ablekwonkor. These were recreated in the new village, even though it had no clear spatial separation. The village was set up to meander smoothly along the contour lines of the landscape. A through road along the coast cut across the village. Awudung was located on the seafront, by the beach where the fishermen kept their canoes; across the road were the other three neighbourhoods, and public amenities such as the market, shops, primary and secondary schools and the police station were located on either side of the road. Housing consisted of a number of repeated standard compound types: rectangular, round, diamond-shaped, star-shaped and meandering. As in contemporary European mass housing, different varieties of the types were designed and designated by a combination of a letter and a number: type A7, B4 and so on. The varieties had different sizes and numbers of rooms, which the residents could extend themselves. The most common type was the compound that comprised a certain number of rectangular houses with a total of some 40 to 50 rooms. These were constructed of blocks that were plastered to hold off termites, with asbestos-cement sheets for roofs. The largest version had 13 rooms on three sides of a courtyard. In some cases, the rooms had a covered porch at the front and in most there was a kitchen and a screened-off space with running water: the shower cubicle. One centrally located sanitary block of toilets was shared by two or three large compounds (160 to 600 people). Not a luxurious situation by Western standards, but in a 1961 residents satisfaction survey, 67 per cent of the

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30.  Jord den Hollander, interviewed by the author in September 2007. 31.  www.design233.com/oldhtml/history/history.html#.VVyoAs5tHbw.


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then residents of Tema specifically mentioned the latrines, water supply, waste services and tap water when asked to name ‘good features’ of the new housing. Even though the residents were better off in terms of indoor facilities, they still complained about the space they had at their disposal: small rooms, a small courtyard and no room to extend the property. The residents also asked for some facilities they never had in the old fishing village, but that were commonplace in the city of Tema by then: electricity and running water indoors (rather than only in the courtyard), a bathroom with running water, an indoor toilet. The fishermen wanted to share in the progress that had suddenly become available in the new port town and aroused all kinds of desires previously unheard of. According to the supervisors of the relocation: 429


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Standing at night, in the oil- and candle-lit village and looking over to the Township, a blaze of electric light across the Chemu Lagoon, we were well able to understand these unusually high expectations and the resentment which had formed them. 32

Once the new city was built, relatives and friends from far and wide came to Tema Manhean looking for jobs in a factory or the harbour. Lack of space soon led to the use of kitchens as bedrooms and the courtyard once again became the place to cook. Others closed off the porches to create additional living space. Within years after the completion of the village, residents had adapted the majority of the houses. Expanding the wards proved to be more difficult. The formal layout of the village made it complicated for the neighbourhoods to establish an additional family home. The public space received little attention from either the government or the residents themselves. The hedges that were supposed to screen off the compounds were never put in, the trees of the buffer zone between the fishing village and the oil storage were never planted. There were hardly any gardens, shrubs or trees at all and what there was got eaten by roaming goats and sheep. There were no streetlights and roads were unpaved and poorly maintained: on all these aspects, Tema Manhean scored poorly in comparison to Tema. The houses in Manhean were just as expensive as the ones the TDC built in Community I and II, but were in an ‘authentic African village’ and therefore had no electricity, toilets or running water. In their accounts, project managers at the time already predicted in great detail what would happen to Tema Manhean in the long term:

Not only would these refinements have been welcomed by the villagers . . . but it is now becoming clear that they will become necessities rather than luxuries if Tema Manhean is to be assimilated as part of the whole Tema 431

32.  Amarteifio, Butcher and Whitham, Tema Manhean, op. cit. (note 25), 61-62.


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development. . . . As it expands Tema will surround the new village, making its status as a slum area inevitable if its standard of services remains so low in comparison with those of new housing areas. 33

The design layout left no space to facilitate the Ghanaian tradition of running a small shop from home, either. Despite their extensive investigation into the lifestyle of the Ga inhabitants, Fry and Drew had in fact designed a dormitory neighbourhood with centrally located facilities that was zoned like an English New Town. This was the result of the emphasis they put on housing typology, rather than on the socioeconomic functioning of the village. However, local culture could not be suppressed. Left and right, rooms, a kitchen or an open window were converted into shops; pallets and sheets of corrugated material were used to build stalls with cans of food or cleaning supplies piled high. One day the TDC would turn a blind eye; the next they would send in bulldozers to raze them to the ground. But this would only deter the residents for a short time. The difference with the old village was huge. During the 1940s, people still considered it ‘romantically beautiful – rolling grassy plains leading down to palmfringed shores where the heavy Atlantic surf pounded on to the sandy beaches’.34 An aerial photograph from the 1950s, most likely taken shortly before the demolition of the village, shows Tema squeezed in between advancing new building blocks in the north and navvy work being done for the construction of the harbour basins in the south. In between was an irregular fabric of large and small houses, oriented in different directions, topped by gable roofs of corrugated material. But besides the picturesque appearance the old village undeniably possessed due to its irregularity, it was also strikingly green, with lots of trees and green fields between the houses. The new settlement was nothing like that: around the evenly built, immaculately white houses, there was nothing but barren sand. Living in the new village required adjustments. The new housing redefined family and clan relationships and ownership structures and interactions with neighbours changed. There was a lot of bitterness, caused by the internal troubles among factions

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33.  Ibid., 64-65. 34.  Hon. E. Ayeh-Kumi, ‘Foreword’, in: Keith Jopp, Tema, Ghana’s New Town and Harbour (Accra: Ministry of Information (for the Development Secretariat), 1961).


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of the community during the resettlement.35 The toilets in the sanitary blocks were new and nobody knew how to use them. People flushed stones and corncobs that clogged the drains; the use of toilet paper was a novelty. Owing to the overall dissatisfaction and adjustment problems, the residents failed to form a village administration. It took a campaign with film shows, loudspeaker vans and debate evenings to cultivate a sense of community. Gradually, thanks to the tireless efforts of the welfare workers, a peaceful atmosphere was created and, eventually, a new Chief elected.

TEMA SLUM Unfortunately, the gloomy predictions of Tema Manhean’s project managers have become realities: now, 60 years later, the village has indeed become a slum, a sad environment that only projects a vague illusion of traditional culture. Within a couple of years of being built, more than half of the population consisted of immigrants from more than 80 locations in Ghana and abroad. The family structure that the design by Fry and Drew reflected had changed beyond recognition. Tema Manhean was no longer an independent village. It had been drawn into the vortex of the developing port city. By 1966 it had already become clear that the traditional economy of the village could not survive: ‘Its traditional economy was doomed as the eventual industrialisation of the fishing industry and the loss of the already reduced farm lands to be occupied by the relocated aluminium smelter will remove the principal sources of livelyhood.’36 The industrialization Nkrumah had rolled out across Ghana also extended to fishing – with a growing new, modern national fleet of large trawlers mostly run by foreigners, especially Japanese and Norwegians. This was solid competition for the fishermen of Tema Manhean with their dug-out canoes. The decision to maintain Tema village as an independent unit to preserve the social structure and identity of the village has not worked out well. Indeed, it turned Tema Manhean into a slum of port city Tema: the village where everything was cheaper, poorer and less attractive, sitting on the edge of radiantly new Tema where everything was modern and well organized. Fry and Drew’s approach, which included elements of traditional compound living, both romanticized and abstracted the old village system, which was primarily based on self-organization: expand your own house, open your own shop, build your own oven.

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The new village, on the other hand, was basically ‘finished’. As such, it was not very suitable for the local culture with its characteristic organic development, growth and change. The fixed size of the compounds in particular was subject to criticism at the time:

Even if it is assumed that the creation of Tema Manhean as an enclave of tribal society and primitive economics was possible and desirable, the architects failed to design a layout which would permit the continuance of such a society for very long. The impossibility of ward expansion

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and, to a lesser degree, house expansion will tend to break up the spatial structure of the village and will probably influence the social structure accordingly. 37

The formal aspects of the design, intended to facilitate continued living in the traditional compound structure, could not guarantee the traditional way of life of the inhabitants. Though the villagers lived in compounds and had wooden canoes, just like in the old village, they could see the lights of the modern city of Tema on the horizon. By day, they walked into the city to sell their wares and talk to its residents, who had indoor water and electricity; they saw what was for sale on its market, they saw the cars, 437

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hotels and offices and they felt like an inferior part of the modern welfare state. And it is still like that today: the Ga feel that they made Tema possible by sacrificing their village and their land and that they received small thanks for their pains, living sandwiched between the industry and the harbour, overtaken left and right by competitors with large trawlers, deported to an overcrowded and underdeveloped village.

GARDEN CITY TEMA Once the decision to construct the prestigious port was made in 1951, the whole repertory of English planning tools was made available to the Gold Coast. Not only spatial planning and the connected, underlying social and political values, but the institutional organization as well: they made a package that was transplanted straight from the motherland to Ghana. English professor Anthony D. King aptly describes this period as one ‘when cultural, political and economic links have, within a large network of global communications and a situation of economic dependence, provided the means to continue the process of “cultural colonialism” with the continued export of values, ideologies and planning models’.38 The Garden City movement had been articulating expansive ambitions such as these from its very outset. As early as 1907, Garden City magazine wrote: ‘We want not only England but all parts of the Empire to be covered with Garden Cities.’39 In the England of the first half of the twentieth century, the Garden City had grown into much more than a spatial concept. It represented a planning ideology that referred to many social, economic and political aspects of public life. Through the post-war New Towns Act of 1946, it had become a machine with the associated institutional structure, legislation and implementation techniques. Once exported to the colonies in its entirety, this complex was only partly adapted to local circumstances. Established in 1952, the Tema Development Corporation was modelled after the English New Town administrative bodies, semi-government organizations in charge of the development of New Towns.40

Masterplan Alcock, Tema Town Plan

38.  King, ‘Exporting Planning’, op.cit. (note 10), 205. 39.  Editorial in Garden City, no. 2 (1907). 40.  See: E.C. Kirchherr, ‘Tema 1951-1962: The Evolution of a Planned City in West Africa’, Urban Studies, vol. 5 (1968) no. 2, 207-217.

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Community 1, Alcock

T. S. Clerk welcoming Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to the Port City of Tema during the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ghana, 1961

Whereas a special Port Authority was commissioned to plan the harbour, the railways and the motorway, Town Planning Adviser Alcock was responsible for the spatial planning of Tema and he presented a first design in 1952.41 His master plan mirrored many aspects of the model-based English New Towns: the division of urban fabric into neatly arranged neighbourhoods and districts, separately enclosed by green ribbons and motorways, and more specifically the hierarchical structure of the road network, the facilities and the neighbourhoods, the construction of public services and the zoning of functions. Alcock’s plan was based on a neighbourhood unit (ca. 3,000 people) grouped around a primary school and a market for daily groceries; four neighbourhoods formed a Community (ca. 12,000 people), grouped around a well defined number of schools, shops and a market, banks, a post office and some restaurants and bars; seven Communities together made up the city of Tema (ca. 84,000 people). The plan also included a proposal for a centre on the scale of the city, this time with – predictably 41.  A.E.S. Alcock, ‘Initial Proposals for the Development of the New Town of Tema by the Town Planning Adviser’ (Tema, 1952). Alfred Edward Savige (‘Bunny’) Alcock worked as Town Engineer in Kumasi from 1936 to 1945, and then as Gold Coast Town Planning Advisor from 1945 to 1956. See: ‘A.E.S. Alcock and the Planning of Asawasi, Kumasi’, transnationalarchitecturegroup.wordpress.com/tag/drew/.

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and in accordance with accepted Western models of New Town centres – offices, hotels, government buildings, a civic centre and education and entertainment venues. However, due to the many alternations, variations in size and shape of the neighbourhoods and a non-orthogonal road network, the final plan looked less ‘logical’ than this mathematical enumeration suggests. The building of the first three Communities began in 1954. A team of English architects led by Ghanaian architect and planner T.S. Clerk designed series of standardized dwellings, 80 per cent of them meant for the lowest incomes: small low-rise dwellings that had to meet the acute housing demand of the dockworkers in particular.42 The architects developed a wide range of different dwelling types in numerous divisions, built within the undulating network of ring roads that link up to the main roads in several places in each Community. This way, they created a wide variety of neighbourhoods with bungalows, compound dwellings, terraced houses and flats. A relatively high density was necessary due to the high cost of preparing the sites, since this included constructing numerous modern services such as sewers, water mains, street lighting, underground electricity as well as paved roads with gutters and greenery. Combined with the decision to build low-rise housing, this density resulted in a compact low-rise city. For the English designers, this meant that they had to seek solutions to the thus-created problems of privacy, dwelling orientation relative to the sea breeze, and the localization of access roads.43 The sometimes curious housing and urban planning types realized in the first two Communities are evidence of this quest. One example of the creative solutions the team developed is an area with dwellings for low incomes (up to £300 per year) adjacent to the main market ground in Community I. It comprises small horseshoe-shaped compounds that consist of three interlinked dwellings with two to four bedrooms positioned to create small private courtyards. The toilet and shower are communal. The houses are ground floor except at one point, where a single upstairs room marks each compound like a little tower. The type is a variation on the compound type for an extended family as it was traditionally lived in by the Ga-tribe: ‘The Ga also viewed the word “house” in the dynastic sense, rather than as a singular dwelling occupied by immediate relatives.’44 Another example of the kind of solutions the planners introduced is the diagonal

42.  Chief Architect and Town Planner since 1954 was T.S. Clerk. He was one of the three Ghanaian architects at the time. The team further consisted of architects D.C. Robinson, D. Gillies-Reyburn, N.R. Holman, M.J. Hirst, W.D. Ferguson, C. Kossack, G. Rochford, D.B. Duck and H.G. Herbert. See: D.C. Robinson, ‘Development of the New Town of Tema, Ghana’, Architectural Design, no. 4 (1959), 138-140.

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43.  Ibid.; D.C. Robinson, ‘Planning in the Commonwealth. Tema, the New Port of Ghana’, Journal of the Town Planning Institute, vol. 45 (1959) no. 4, 90-93. 44.  Jackson and Assassie Oppong, ‘The Planning of Late Colonial Village Housing in the Tropics’, op. cit. (note 18), 497.


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orientation of many of the houses to the southwest, to make the most of the refreshing sea breeze, a design decision that was adopted by Doxiadis and became characteristic of the Tema master plan. Not all dwellings are one-storey; there are also two-storey blocks of flats with pent roofs for the lowest incomes. Expectations were that most of Tema’s first inhabitants would be single dockworkers and young couples, who would not need family dwellings until a later stage. This is why the housing blocks were designed to be converted into larger dwellings over time, for instance by combining the rooms on the first and second floors. A striking inversion with the New Towns is Western Europe is that in Tema apartments were earmarked for expatriates and high-income families because they were more expensive to build. They were larger and more luxurious in every respect than the low-rise dwellings. In Community I, Fry and Drew designed a series of beautiful, highmodernist maisonette buildings, with large flats and a rooftop laundry. They chose a distinct design with contrived compositions, rotated planes and large window bays. In addition, port companies such as Valco built spacious walk-up flats that more than met European standards for their employees. Community I combined flats with a series of villas for managers and government officials, friendly modernist villas on large plots. Tema did not have separate areas for Western and African residents, but as the master plan was zoned based on different income levels, the result in the first decades boiled down to the same thing. Every house or blocks of dwellings in the first Communities features ventilation openings, protected against water by small U-shaped canopies on the outside. This element, as practical as it is decorative, appears across Tema on all types of buildings, including the social and commercial facilities that belong to the dwellings, such as shopping centres, police stations, lorry parks, market buildings and the offices of the Tema Development Corporation. The city centre was planned between the first two Communities, on an elevated area. The design used the height differences of the landscape to vertically separate cars and pedestrians, using pedestrian bridges that intersected the roads. The centre contained civic buildings in the middle and port offices and buildings in the south, it had service industries and a pedestrian shopping district and, finally, a recreational area with a large stadium. 444


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The urban plan included various adjustments to local culture. American geographer Eugene C. Kirchherr, who wrote about the first ten years of Tema’s existence, analysed it as follows:

The neighbourhood concept was not to be transplanted without modification to tropical Africa. Each neighbourhood was to include the basic facilities such as a primary school, places of worship, and shops, an area for the traditional African-type market and an open-air meeting place or ‘palaver ground’. Next, he quotes Alcock explaining how the local customs are incorporated in the planning of these neighbourhoods:

One of the reasons why units of this size may be successful in recreating feelings of belonging is the West African custom, when people seek each others’ company in the evening, of walking up and down the principal streets near their homes meeting, greeting, and gossiping. This is also the time for purchasing the evening meal and other small necessities of life. . . . The footpath and street system is therefore planned to focus on the few shops, the small trading area and the open-air meeting place, so that this natural activity will be concentrated and will bring people into contact with each other and thereby, it is hoped, will recreate the social atmosphere of the village evenings. 45

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Here, we recognize Alcock’s earlier experiences – he had worked elsewhere in Ghana as well and like Fry and Drew carried out small, selforganized projects together with the villagers.46

SECOND PHASE: 1959, ENTER DOXIADIS In the mid-1950s, when construction of the harbour and the city was clearly growing into a major economic project, people from all over Ghana flocked to Tema. Mostly they were impoverished peasants who came from the countryside to find work as labourers. The temporary barracks in Community I soon became inadequate.47 Some people moved into Tema village, which still existed at the time. Others built huts on the fringes of the plan area, near the village of Ashaiman, where an extensive slum without infrastructure, running water or sewage soon emerged.48 The draw of the port and the new city were obviously beyond the absorptive power of both the existing urban plan and the Tema Development Corporation’s building capacity. Prognoses on the estimated number of residents were radically revised upwards. As the scale and speed with which the port, the city and the industry continued to develop became apparent, they gave rise to a call for a different planning approach. The existing English plans were unable to match the speed of the urbanization.

Constantinos A. Doxiadis, approximately in 1968. Photo: Fabian Bachrach. Constantinos A. Doxiadis, Ekistics. An introduction to the science of human settlements, Oxford University Press, New York 1968 (jacket). © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

In addition, a substantial change of course in 1959 further increased the pressure. Kaiser presented a report with new recommendations, including proposals to build an aluminium smelter in Tema rather than in Kpong (located to the north) and to construct the Volta River Dam near Akosombo rather than near Ajena.49 This had considerable consequences for Tema: the aluminium smelter had to be encorporated into the urban plan and the population projection revised upwards yet again, to 120,000 inhabitants (rather than 84,000). And the number would continue to rise: in 1960, estimates mentioned 200,000 and later during that same year, even 250,000.

46.  Iain Jackson, ‘Tropical Architecture: Current Research. A.E.S. Alcock and the Planning of Asawasi, Kumasi’, transnationalarchitecturegroup.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/tropical-architecture-current-research-4/. 47.  The barracks were intended as temporary housing, but are still standing as of 2015.

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48.  Migration to Tema subsequently hindered the resettlement of the residents, whose numbers continued to grow: from 4,000 in 1952 to 12,000 in 1959. 49.  Henry J. Kaiser Co., Reassesment Report on the Volta River Project for the Government of Ghana, Report No. HC 59-x-RE, February 1959.


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What must have also played a part was that Nkrumah wanted to get rid of the English designers overly associated with colonial rule. Despite the independence more, rather than fewer English advisers, planners and engineers worked in the former colonies than in colonial times.50 Doxiadis, with his Greek background and close ties to international development aid organizations, fit well in independent Ghana. He convincingly presented Greece as entirely different from other West-European countries, as being part of the ‘emerging world’ rather than the Western world. Doxiadis saw Greece as a country on the frontier between developed and developing, edging away from a feudal, subjected state and on the verge of military instability.51 The fact that the country was poor, had not been a colonial power in the twentieth century, that as a democratic nation with a strong communist movement it stood between the West and the USSR and thus occupied a position similar to that of Nkrumah’s Ghana: these were all facets that accelerated the acceptance of Doxiadis Associates. Doxiadis was a major exponent of the trend towards internationalization of the urban development and architecture in developing countries. During the colonial era, someone from the motherland practically always filled the position of planner, urban designer and architect. It was often someone (or a team of people) with idealistic leanings who stayed in the country itself. After independence, from the 1960s to the present, a ‘flying squad’ of internationally operating architecture and engineering firms, urban development multinationals and consultants remedied the local lack of welltrained professionals. Doxiadis Associates is one example, but so are Victor Gruen, José Luís Sert, Michel Ecochard and many others. Especially when he began to work outside of Europe, Doxiadis was confronted with other issues that largely had to do with the enormous demographic and economic growth of that era. To deal with the new scale, Doxiadis developed an extremely hermetic, theoretical design and engineering system he called ‘Ekistics, the Science of Human Settlements’. It was a rational and scientific alternative to the existing historical cities with their congestions of cars and people.52 Instead, Doxiadis proposed a gridiron city model that would provide a human-scaled environment and at the same time facilitate unlimited growth. This model still had its roots in the accepted hierarchic ordering of the New Town model, but raised it to another level. The neighbourhood

50.  The dissemination of knowledge took place through educational institutions, magazines and after the war through the explosive growth in the number of international organizations, mainly sponsored by the UN. See: King, ‘Exporting Planning’, op.cit. (note 10), 216. 51.  C.A. Doxiadis, ‘Greece as an Element of an Emerging World’, code 949.5 D; 0765, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 52.  Constantinos A. Doxiadis, Ekistics. An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements (New York, 1968).

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units were standardized and enlarged; they were submerged in an ever-expanding grid, which was not supposed to contain or limit growth, as were the original English New Towns, but on the contrary: to facilitate growth. At the same time, he recognized the need to offer the new urbanites (for usually the inhabitants of his cities, whether in Africa, the Middle East or Asia, were migrants from the countryside) a stable and dependable framework, both spatially and socially. Aware of the existing local social structures as well as of future global urbanization, he proposed the rather generic approach of Ecumenopolis, the world-encompassing city, as the solution. Doxiadis was possibly the leading exponent of the explicit application of comprehensive modernist planning models as vehicles for freedom, peace and progress. How and by whom exactly Doxiadis was asked to become a consultant in Ghana is not easy to discover. It is clear, however, that the international networks he belonged to and the American institutions and foundations he had strong ties with, that supported him and that he worked with, were very active in Ghana. The Ford Foundation, which backed the international programmes of Doxiadis Associates with millions of dollars, ran various programmes in Ghana, mainly focused on education. Its programme officer and later vice president Francis X. Sutton visited Ghana in 1959 and at that time spoke to everyone of importance in the Ghanaian government, including the Planning Advisor of the Ministry of Works and Housing. He also met with representatives of American organizations with branches in the country, such as Mr Abbot Low Moffat, director of the US Operations Mission.53 This organization was the local branch of the globally operating ICA (International Cooperation Administration), which gave Ghana ‘technical assistance, ranging from fighting malaria and collecting oral traditions to the directing of Building Brigades of thousands of workers’.54 The basis of this technical assistance that so many developing countries received was clear, comprising development aid that was neither political nor military, but did have political intentions. At the ‘Conference on Economic Assistance as an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy’ organized in 1957 in Massachusetts by the World Peace Organization, the starting points were made unashamedly clear:

The prime American national interest in Africa south of the Sahara is as a source of raw materials. Secondly,

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53.  Francis X. Sutton, ‘Narrative Account of Visit in Ghana’, dictated 15 August 1959, Ford Foundation Archives; Francis X. Sutton, ‘Brief Summary of ICA and UN Projects in Ghana’, dictated 15 August 1959, Ford Foundation Archives. 54.  Francis X. Sutton, ‘Brief Summary of ICA and UN Projects in Ghana’, dictated 15 August 1959, Ford Foundation Archives.


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Participants of the Delos Conference, including Barbara Ward, at the ancient theatre of Delos on July 12, 1963. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Photographs, File 34172, no. 496. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Kwame Nkrumah and Sir Robert Jackson with the divers guiding the last block of Tema’s harbor quay on 27th September 1958

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America has an interest in denying the area and raw materials of Africa to the Soviet bloc. The prime American concern with Ghana is in sustaining and encouraging a favorable climate for democratic values and institutions. These American interests – in Africa and in Ghana – are related because of Ghana’s symbol of African ability and independence. The black star of Ghana is a lodestone to the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa as more and more of the elephantine continent follows the trend of political evolution from colonialism to selfgovernment. 55

To serve American interests best, international relief organizations took the lead and the US government strongly supported private aid. Providing technical assistance allowed the government to remain in the background and still keep its fingers in the pie. Then there was the influential spin doctor Jacob Crane, a good friend and adviser of Doxiadis as well as a consultant of the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration. As such, Crane knew many people at ICA stations around the globe, actively lobbied for Doxiadis and conducted a worldwide acquisition campaign for major urban or national planning projects with him.56 But perhaps Doxiadis’s main asset was Barbara Ward, the influential English economist and writer who frequently contributed articles to Ekistics and was a regular at the Delos-conferences Doxiadis organized annually. She was especially interested in the development and urbanization of the Third World and lived in Ghana for several longer periods in the late 1950s. She was also married to Sir Robert Jackson, advisor to the government of Ghana on development. A very influential man who collaborated closely with Nkrumah, Jackson had been involved in the construction of the Volta River Dam since the early 1950s.

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55.  ‘Policy for Ghana’, Africa Special Report (a publication of The African-American Institute), vol. 2 (1957), no. 9. 56.  Correspondence between C.A. Doxiadis and J.L. Crane (1954-1957); ref. 19255, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. Letter dated 15 January 1955 from Doxiadis to Crane.


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Somewhere in this vast, high-profile network, someone managed to introduce Doxiadis to Kwame Nkrumah. The assignment was not all that exceptional: Doxiadis Associates was only one among many consultancy firms operating in Ghana. Numerous American, Italian and English firms carried out assignments, made economic surveys, drainage plans, plans for the development of agriculture, designs for government buildings and so on. What was exceptional was both the extent to which Doxiadis managed to make himself indispensable and the size of the commissions he managed to extract – commissions, incidentally, that he himself had articulated.

NOT CONSULTANTS, BUT PIONEERS In 1959, Doxiadis sent his senior staff member E.A. Ftenakis ahead to discuss the needs and possibilities of the Ghanaian government. He soon came up with a proposal to develop three different planning documents: a master plan for the capital Accra, a regional development programme for the Volta River Dam project and a national housing programme for Ghana.57 Minister of Work & Housing Emmanuel K. Bensah was especially impressed with Doxiadis’s work in Bagdad and Iraq (1955-1956), where a similar approach had been used.58 According to Ftenakis, Doxiadis Associates acted ‘not merely as a Consulting Firm, but mainly as Pioneers. We are pioneers of a new science – developed mainly by Dr C.A. Doxiadis, our president – the science of Ekistics. . .’59 To the Minister, Ftenakis explained what Ekistics was and why it was the preferred method to deal with the tremendous problems that developing countries faced, including industrialization, modernization and urbanization: ‘The science of Ekistics gives answers and solutions to all these and to other similar questions.’60 This was Doxiadis’s talent: of the many foreign consultants that worked in Ghana, he was the one who succeeded in convincing Nkrumah, no doubt by his large-scale approach that, focusing on radical progress, was visionary on the scale of the whole of Africa. This vision was the infrastructural equivalent of Nkrumah’s pan-African political ambitions. The scale of Doxiadis’s involvement grew even further as he became involved in the construction of the national motorway. In 1964, this would culminate in a plan for a new African transport network that (based on an economic and spatial analysis of traffic, transport, import and export) proposed a traffic network that would be more 57.  Letter from Ftenakis to Doxiadis, 30 September 1959, Ghana Correspond C-GhC 1-232 September 1959-December 60, vol. 7, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 58.  Letter from Ftenakis to the Hon. Minister of Work & Housing, Accra, 12 October 1959, Ghana Correspond C-GhC 1-232 September 1959-December 60, vol. 7, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 59. Ibid. 60. Ibid.

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Ciud ad G uyan a Arad ‘Nation Builder meets Architect’, newspaper clipping from the Ghana Times, 7 April 1960. Doxiadis presents Nkrumah with a Greek antique vase; in the middle staff member and representative of Doxiadis Ass. in Ghana, E. A. Ftenakis. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

‘Doxiadis presents new lay-out plan’, newspaper clipping from the Ghana Times, 5 September 1960. President Kwame Nkrumah stands in the middle, on his right Constantinos Doxiadis and on his left E.K. Bensah, Minister of Works and Housing. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Pages from Doxiadis’ diary during his first visits to Accra and Tema. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DIARY-GHA 2 DOXIADIS C A 15.5.1961, REF. 24414 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Head Office Doxiadis, Athens, Greece

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efficient and would mutually connect the African nations better than the colonial transport system, which focused on the coast, on shipping and on export to Europe.61 After Ftenakis’s initial talks, Doxiadis himself came to Ghana in early 1960 to visit the region and ‘look at the Ekistic data’. Doxiadis’s visit marked the official start of the survey for the regional plan, which would take ten months to make: four months to survey, one month to analyse, six weeks to consult, followed by an intermediate presentation by Doxiadis and three months of drafting the final report, and the concluding presentation. This is exactly how things unfolded and the ‘Regional Programme and Plan Accra-Tema-Akosombo’, made up of two bulky volumes, was presented as early as February 1961.62 Perhaps Doxiadis’s solid approach evokes an image of a technocratic and boring man, but he was in fact the opposite. He was invariably described by his contemporaries as an inspired and charismatic speaker. Emanuel Adjeteh, who studied architecture at the KNUST at the time and is now the chair of the TDC, attended one of his lectures. He remembers how Doxiadis talked about ‘the fabric of the city, how the city can be interpreted as a system and how that system works. You should have heard him talk!’63 This talent not only came in handy when Doxiadis spoke to the relevant government committees and representatives, but undoubtedly when he faced Nkrumah directly as well. During his visit in April 1960, he had already met the president and presented him with a precious, antique Greek vase. In August of that same year, he met with Nkrumah a couple of times more in the company of officials; they conferred and he gave a presentation. The next day, Nkrumah asked him to come an hour before the programme of that day so they could speak in private. Unfortunately, Doxiadis’s diary does not mention anything about the content of their conversation. Ftenakis had explained to Minister Bensah why the thorough Ekistic method was necessary, namely because Doxiadis’s solutions were not universal: the principles were, but the solutions had to be adapted to the particular situation. Therefore each project started with an ‘on the spot investigation and survey of a host of factors covering history, tradition and custom, climate and geography, population characteristics and movements, sociology, economy. . . .’64 Ftenakis immediately mentioned the need to train technical personnel as well, both in Ghana and at the ATI, the school Doxiadis

61.  ‘Toward an African Transport Plan’, DA Monthly Bulletin, no. 63 (1964). 62.  Monthly reports: Mr-GHA 1, 2 and 3 (April, May, June 1960), no. 1.

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63.  Interview by author, 2015. During and after his study, Emmanuel Adjeteh also worked with ‘the English planners’ on Tema, at the office of Kenneth Scott. He was also one of the people being trained by Doxiadis at the Athens technical Institute (ATI) in Athens. From 1967 on, he worked at TDC. 64.  Letter from Ftenakis to the Hon. Minister of Work & Housing, op. cit. (note 58).


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had established in Athens as part of Doxiadis Associates. This resulted in a Head Office in Athens and a Field Office in Ghana – a way of working that had already been tested in Iraq. A small interdisciplinary team made up of an economist, a planner and a hydraulic engineer began collecting data, photos, maps and information and subsequently fed these back to the team in Athens in accordance with a tightly organized scheme. As the project manager, Ftenakis travelled every few weeks to Athens, where all the materials were processed and analysed. The scheme and disciplined method made it possible for the Field Office to complete an estimate of the costs that the implementation of the Accra plan would involve as early as April 1960. His involvement in the master plan for Tema was also occasioned by the way Doxiades was able to reformulate a modest request into a huge commission: in 1960, the Tema Development Organisation cautiously asked Doxiadis to take a look at the rental policy, the overall financial policy and the road network of the first three Communities that were under construction in accordance with Alcock’s plan.65 Thus, Doxiadis became involved in the planning of Tema, completely against the wishes of the English planners.66 They must have been unpleasantly surprised by Doxiadis’s extensive criticism: according to him, matters had been rushed and as a result, all kinds of fundamental issues had been overlooked, like the orientation of the houses, the road network and the necessary public facilities.67 His report shows that he was disappointed by his first visit to Tema:

During the tour it becomes clear that the streets are completely wrong; the composition of communities is wrong, they look like slums even if they are expensive because of the messy way everything is put together. There is no rhythm, it is really disappointing. 68

65.  Monthly reports: Mr-GHA No 6, 3 September 1960. In 1960, the TDC was split into two organizations: the Tema Corporation (administration, maintenance and development) and the Tema Development Organisation (planning and building of the new city), Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 66.  Kirchherr, ‘Tema 1951-1962’, op. cit. (note 40). 67.  ‘Tema Communities Nos 1 and 2. Thoughts for Improvement’, Ghana Reports, vol. 9 (July-December 1960) report 24, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 68.  DIARY-GHA 2 DOXIADIS C A 15.5.1961, REF. 24414, p. 13, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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The monotonous housing in Community 2 that provoked Doxiadis’ criticism. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA. The town of Tema. Existing conditions on 1st May 1961, 21-7-1961, opposite p.26. Ref. 24410 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

At that time, Tema already housed 26,860 people,69 but the construction of facilities at the neighbourhood and city level was seriously trailing behind.70 That’s why Doxiadis Associates received the commission in 1960 to redesign the city centre and the road network, which according to Doxiadis were a complete mess.71 In official reports, Doxiadis’s criticism is clearly but diplomatically formulated. He was more outspoken in his diaries, however, and they provide a better insight into his way of thinking. In 1960, he took a walking tour with two high-ranking officials of the Tema Development Organisation: chief developer officer Mr Woolmer and chief town planning officer D.C. Robinson, that began in the harbour of Tema and ended in the TDC office at Hospital Road across Community IV. Doxiadis wrote down his findings. In Community II, the dockworkers’ dwellings in particular met with his disapproval:

Nobody would imagine that this is planned; a scary monotony, six windows, all the same, nothing else composition-wise.

69.  DOX-GHA 3 8.7.1960, p. 2, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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70.  ‘There is an urgent need to construct the first parts of the centre as shown by the fact that houses have already been completed without the corresponding central facilities’, DOX-GHA 3 8.7.1960, p. 77, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 71.  The road network was not designed to cope with the anticipated turbulent regional development, it hindered the further growth of the centre and was inadequately structured for the different traffic types. ‘The Main Roads of Tema’, DOX-GHA 6 10.2.1961, p. 1, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.


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The already developed areas in Tema, 1961. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 16, Tema. The immediate needs. A programme of priorities, 21 July 1961. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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The developed main area in Tema, 1961. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOXGHA 16, Tema. The immediate needs. A programme of priorities, 21 July 1961, p.8. Drawing D-GHA 456 ref 24412. Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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The planners realized this: they later added cosmetic walls with holes here and there in order to change this monotonous appearance. An equally unpleasant and tragic image give the two story houses which follow: six windows downstairs, six upstairs and a central open staircase. Given the attention Doxiadis paid to the composition of planes and materials in his residential designs for even the tiniest and cheapest of houses, the criticism is quite understandable. However, Fry and Drew’s quality apartments were censured as well:

In this diary, because it’s in Greek and it’s private I can freely say that it’s a very ugly architecture. It doesn’t give a distinct character to the area and it doesn’t give a general form, not even the volume of the houses is clear. Especially the [apartment] building of Jane Drew is completely weird, and not integrated in the landscape; it doesn’t even have a clear form. The more I come close, the worse they look. 72

The contrived form, the exaggerated protrusions, the arbitrary rotations and the strong design component: he probably found the apartment buildings too manierist and not in keeping with the high standards that he, himself, pursued: they are not modern and modest. Modesty is a word that Doxiadis recurrently uses and it obviously characterizes his housing as well.

Master plan of the AccraTema metropolitan area. C.A. Doxiadis, Urban Renewal and the Future of the American City, Chicago 1966, p.65 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

The official commission for the Tema master plan followed in 1961. At that time, Doxiadis Associates was already involved in a large number of tasks in Tema, from 72.  DIARY-GHA 2 DOXIADIS C A 15.5.1961, REF. 24414, p. 9, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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The main national axes and the growing centers in the AccraTema metropolitan area. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Monthly Bulletin no. 20, Dec. 1960, Accra-Tema-Akosombo Regional Development in Ghana © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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buildings to maintenance programmes, from the smallest scale to the largest. The firm was involved in the planning of the industrial area, the construction of roads and the building of factories. It was responsible for the ‘supervision of construction’ and the test running of machines at both the cocoa processing plant and the cotton textile factory. In addition, Doxiadis Associates was designing a new city centre and other important public buildings for Accra and received a commission to set up an industrialization programme for the whole of Ghana as well as urgently construct a number of industrial projects.73 The master plan for Tema was presented in August 1962.74

THE DOXIADIS MASTER PLAN Taking an approach that was almost completely the opposite from that of Fry and Drew, Doxiadis didn’t start his design for Tema by talking to chiefs and inhabitants or by analysing the local culture. Of course his assignment was also different in the sense that he was planning for a largely unknown population. Nonetheless, it was indicative of his work that he did not start by zooming in, but by zooming out, namely by designing a plan for the whole Accra-Tema region. He surveyed the economic, demographic, geological, hydrological and traffic developments in the region and applied his theories of Dynapolis. As in his other urban plans, such as those for Baghdad and Islamabad, he envisioned the future of the region as being dynamic and growing. While filling in the area between Accra and Tema with a repetition of similarly sized neighbourhoods, the arrows on his map showed how the metropolis would grow in the future and extend to the north. On an even larger scale, he pictured the new motorway from Accra to Tema as the first part of the pan-African highway, connecting the newly independent countries by land and not in the colonial way by sea.75 The plan for Tema was based on a mathematical system that was rigidly hierarchical, with roads in eight different, numbered classes ranging from footpaths between houses (Road I) to motorways (Road VIII) and residential areas ranging from a small cluster of houses (Community Class I) to the city as a whole (Community Class V) and even to the metropolitan region (Community Class VI).76 The plan for Tema is easily recognizable as part of the same family as Doxiadis’s other

73.  DA Newsletter (July 1963), Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 74.  Work on the master plan began in 1960, and from May 1961 Doxiadis had full responsability for the development of Tema. Tema. The Final Master Plan, 15-8-1962, DOX-GHA 65, Doxiadis Archives.

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75.  Toward an African Transport Plan, General Reports DOX-GA 1-3, January 1961-March 1962, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Athens. 76.  For an analysis of Doxiadis’s plan, also see: Viviana d’Auria, ‘From Tropical Transitions to Ekistic Experimentation: Doxiadis Associates in Tema, Ghana’, Positions, no. 1 (2010), 40-63.


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Tema looking in southern direction. Highlighted are Community 4, Community 5 and the city center. DA Monthly Bulletin, ‘Tema. The New Town’, nr.40, 1961. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Masterplan with lay-out of the first 19 Communities within the Tema Acquisition area. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DA Review Nov. 1968, p.7 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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The development of the city center was projected along the main arterial road from the center to the highway (presently: Hospital Road). Ekistics, March 1962, p.162 Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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urban plans, be it Khartoum, Islamabad or Baghdad; to a high degree it was a generic system, with its neutrality as the container for a complex of social goals like community creation, emancipation, modernization and economic progress. Only a limited influence of local factors was allowed, most of which did not involve cultural aspects, but rather local building traditions or the climate. In the case of Tema this involved the striking diagonal orientation inside the communities, which had to do with taking the most advantage of the prevailing direction of the wind. The picturesque winding roads of Alcock’s first Garden City were rationalized wherever possible. Doxiadis systematized and took all whimsicalities and irregularities out of the plan. The already existing first Communities were incorporated in an orthogonal grid of main roads, which delineated a series of identical Communities IV, each with their own centre, including shops, secondary schools and government buildings. Every Community was divided into four smaller parts (CC III), again each with its own centre containing daily shops and primary schools. One of Doxiadis’s most important goals was to facilitate social cohesion within the Communities; a necessary goal in a country with ongoing differences and feuds between tribes and also essential for a city in which every inhabitant was a newcomer without existing social structures to fall back on. The design of public buildings and public space was therefore a priority. All were carefully standardized: the schools, the marketplaces, shopping streets, cinemas, the (municipal) offices and public services, as well as the roads, paths and squares, along with the planting and trees along them.

SCHOOLS Besides industrialization, another priority of Nkrumah’s policy was the improvement of the education system. The country boasted a high education budget: ‘Ghana is one of the few countries in the world today that spends more on education and social services than on armed forces and armaments.’77 Nkrumah wanted this policy to produce results fast, and designated Tema as a pilot project dedicated to Ghana’s educational reform. The entire planning of Tema and the organization of the Communities was based on the positioning 471

77.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, Report 47 (18 June 1962), 7, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.


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The placement and distribution of primary and secondary schools in the Communities. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 65, 15-8-1962, The Final Master Plan, D-GHA 2064, D-GHA 2062. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

of the schools: one primary school per Community Class III (2,000 to 3,500 people), positioned so that every child could reach the school without having to cross any motorways; the maximum distance was half a kilometre. The education system was improved, primary and secondary schools were made compulsory and free of charge. The number of pupils attending primary school increased dramatically, from 154,000 in 1951 to 1,480,000 in 1966.78 Courses in Tema were to be specially tailored to the needs of the large group of young migrants, including ‘evening schools, technical training, basic reading and writing courses, help in adjustment to the new urban environment’.79 Nkrumah also sought to increase the

78.  Henri Vallin, ‘Nkrumah’s Downfall’, International Socialist Review, vol. 27 (1966) no. 3, 115-120. 79.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, op. cit. (note 77).

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range of secondary schools to create the university-educated population he needed to build and develop the new Ghana. Location-wise, Doxiadis felt sure that the schools for higher education belonged along the central spine, where all special institutions and public buildings would be located.

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In the field of school architecture, Doxiadis Associates had plenty of previous experience in Greece, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Its principle of choice and the one it applied in Tema as well was that of the box of building blocks: a limited set of building elements that were assembled into different results in accordance with the specific requirements and the location. The elevation and the plan as well as the doors, windows and interior elements such as cabinets and desks were all designed on a fixed grid. The schools designed by Doxiadis had extensive sports facilities and large classrooms for 35 to 40 pupils, which was below the number of 46 that was common in Ghana. They were sympathetic, simple buildings, designed especially with an eye to the


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‘The proposed classroom unit’, scheme for a standard class room. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 47. Tema. Educational Buildings-Primary Schools, 18-61962. Drawing D-GHA 1727, ref. 24438. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Design with characteristic shell roofs for administration and lavatories. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 47. Tema. Educational Buildings- Primary Schools, 18-61962. D-GHA 1729. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Schematic layout for a two-stream primary school. 1-Classrooms, 2-Administration, 4-Lavatories, 5-Outdoorspace, 7-Sport fields. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 47. Tema. Educational Buildings-Primary Schools, 18-61962. Drawing D-GHA 1733. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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One of the standardised schools designed by Doxiadis Associates, Community 4. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Tema, Ghana: Schools and houses, Slides 35437 no.1, 4, 3. Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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functionality of light, climate (cross ventilation) and circulation. The orientation of the classrooms, with their glassless windows, took advantage of the prevailing direction of the wind and precluded direct sunlight in the classrooms. A ventilation slot was left open between the cement block wall and the aluminium roof. No shiny materials were used, and few structural elements that could obstruct ventilation. The number of schools was derived from the number of dwellings that made up the Communities. Doxiadis’s hierarchical system led to a simple calculation and the maximum 500-m walk to school determined the placement of the buildings. With their characteristic scale roofs, the schools feature as primary schools in every Community III and as middle schools in every Community IV and are thus recognizable elements in each district.


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Standard school exterior, 2015

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FLORA The design and planting of the public space was of great importance to Doxiadis. His diary entries from 1961 showed a surprising interest in plants, trees and landscapes. Surprising, because the stringintly scientific way Doxiadis talked and wrote about the city gave the impression he was a pure technocrat or a rational modernist who saw numbers and calculations as the core of urban design. Contrastingly, his description of the surrounding flora that he encounters (as well as the villages he passes) during his trip from Accra to Tema is so extensive that the 20-kilometre drive almost feels like a real-time experience. He mentions the flowerbeds at the airport and how they would do nicely to separate houses in Tema. He draws attention to flowering trees, to coconut trees planted along the beach and to mango trees that grow along a stream. He has a special interest in the ways trees are proportional to and leave their mark on the environment and in the architectural effect of trees and plants. He sees a coconut plantation and notes how the flora completely dominates the landscape: apart from a water tower, nothing rises above the trees. This was the image he had in mind when he was planning Tema. Upon arrival in Tema, he sees the palm trees on top of the hill in the distance, on the site of the former village of Tema and expects this to also be the site of the future city centre. This demonstrates another of Doxiades’s convictions: city centres are supposed to be located at the highest point, as is the case in the classical Greek cities that he had extensively studied for his PhD. He imagines building a square in that spot, fringed by the best buildings of the city and with a stunning view. Unfortunately, the English planners had already constructed an intersection at exactly that location – much to his displeasure, for he felt roads should be located at the lowest point. In his mind’s eye, he saw a low-rise city emerged in green, following and accentuating the lines of the landscape: ‘We have to be careful about how the buildings are going to integrate with the landscape, because the skyline will characterize the whole city.’80 This not only applied to the Communities, but also to the vast industrial area: Doxiadis imagined an industrial park with low-rise factories amid the green, ‘modern and modest, you won’t be able to tell if they’re schools or industries or anything else’. Regulation of factory 80.  DIARY-GHA 2 DOXIADIS C A 15.5.1961, REF. 24414, p. 10, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

Poinciana Regia, one of the characteristic trees in the extensive inventory of vernacular flora. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Ghana Reports. Tema. R-GHA-T 66-93, 1964. Mrs. M. Doris, Trees and Plants Survey 8-1-1964. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Behind the lush trees and the many added kiosks the original terraced housing is barely visible. (Photo: M. Provoost, 2007)

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construction on the basis of a study of the landscape would ensure that the residents of Community IV would not end up overlooking an ugly industrial estate. Given his interest in building a low-rise city set in the countryside in accordance with the existing flora, it is not surprising that Doxiadis ordered a comprehensive inventory of local trees, shrubs and plants. In 1963, his team turned out some wonderfully illustrated documentation of the 50 most common species.81 It produced drawings of each species, of both structural characteristics of trees and shrubs and of their interaction with architecture, the fantastic nature of the Ghanaian flora contrasting with the austere lines of the buildings. On that basis, extensive and detailed plans were made for the planting and design of the public space using different types of trees, for streets and paths with shrubs and other plants, and for borders consisting of hedges. Today, unfortunately, it is no longer easy to see what the intentions were of the public space designs. On the one hand this is because many of its aspects soon fell victim to budget cuts. There was less and less money available for the realization of the housing and since the budget for public space was set at 15 per cent of the budget for housing, there was less and less money to spend on public space, too. On the other hand, Tema’s public space was under permanent pressure because the city was overcrowded from the start. Public space was the first thing that was sacrificed in the search for extra residential space. In some places, however, the precision and subtlety with which the design team combined functionality and aesthetics to create the street profiles are still visible. The narrow residential streets, for instance, were provided with gutters on either side of the paved pedestrian street and flanked by a strip of more than a metre wide for the placing of dustbins. Next, separated by a low wall of stone, there was a private zone that belonged to the dwelling and served as its outdoor space.

CITY CENTRE Given the sensitivity for the landscape Doxiadis displayed, his endeavour to connect to local circumstances and his appreciation of architectural ‘modesty’, his design for the city centre is somewhat curious. In the 1950s, English planners had already decided on a Western model that comprised a fully elevated pedestrian plateau underneath which cars could pass freely, its size unprecedented in Ghana. Doxiadis, however, took 81.  Ghana Reports Tema R-GHA-T 66-93, 1964, Trees and Plants Survey, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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The proposed town centre. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, ‘The Town Centre of Tema in Ghana’, in: DA Monthly Bulletin no 26, April 1, 1961. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.


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things a step further. Unsurprisingly, however, other than a couple of separate buildings, the megalomanic complex of ‘shops, department stores, office blocks, cinemas and theatres, a Magistrate’s Court and headquarters buildings for police and other local authorities, a Town Hall, museum, art gallery, three hotels, a public library and a pavilion for special exhibitions’ he designed failed to actually materialize.82 And this was meant to only be the beginning! According to Doxiadis, the centre on the site of the old village adjacent to the port was only the first of a series of subcentres that would grow along the central axis and eventually unite key commercial, cultural and educational institutions into one elongated centre that would extend to the motorway to Accra. Although the Meridien hotel, the Ghana National Bank and some other buildings were built, scattered across the centre, that is where the plan ended. The lively city centre Doxiadis envisioned does exist, but it is in Community I. His centre, designed using futuristic ‘man and motor-car’ notions and even anticipating the advent of the hovercraft – which had been introduced in Cameroon on banana plantations, where six of them were operational at the time – was a step too far.83

BUILDING FOR THE LOWEST INCOMES One of the main reasons Doxiadis was involved in the construction of Tema was because the shortage of houses for labourers held back the growth of the port and industry. Companies only wanted to locate in places where these were available, and complained bitterly. The Alcock plan was incapable of keeping up with the speed of urbanization. Even in 1958, there were concerns about the increase in squatter settlements and illegal workshops near Tema. Thousands of requests for rental housing could not be granted and, moreover, the Communities that were under construction had no community facilities yet: there were no schools, neighbourhood centres or markets, no playgrounds, local squares or public toilets. The threatening overpopulation, caused by the fact that many people could not afford the rent of the new housing and therefore subletted their rooms, with several families jointly inhabiting a single house, was a thorn in the authorities’ flesh.84 In addition, all kinds of illegal land use occurred,

82.  ‘Ghana. Accra-Tema-Akosombo Regional Development’, DA review (November 1968), 8, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 83.  DOX-GHA 3 8.7.1960, p. 48, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 84.  ‘Thoughts on the formation of Tema’, Ghana Reports July-December 1960, vol. 9, Report 27, 1, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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top: Prefabricated block of flats (Segecoflats) in Community 4. middle and bottom: The urban design of the footpaths and public-private spaces in the lower income areas in Community 4 and 7. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DA Review Nov. 1967, p.2 Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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The experimental unit and its location in Community 4. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, D-GHA 575 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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‘Layout of the initial nucleus of experimentation’ in Community 4. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Reports Tema DOX-GHA 22, p.9 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Different housing types from the experimental scheme. DA Monthly Bulletin, ‘Tema the New Town’, nr.40 (1961). © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Type A01 and B03, two variations in an extended family of housing typologies in the experimental scheme. Ekistics, March 1962, 169-170. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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especially by furniture makers and sellers, car hire and garage services. They were all drawn to the new city, which was only logical, but were unable to rent an official place of business. The same thing happened in the city centre: businesses such as shipping companies wanted to locate there, but nothing had been built yet.85 Apart from commercial companies, various government services became impatient as well, such as customs and the electricity services that were supposed to work on the development of Tema. The acute shortage of cheap housing had to be resolved. Not only to forestall frustration of the construction and development of the port that was so very important to the Ghanaian economy, but also to prevent the advent of urban chaos through self-built slums. Doxiades identified ‘hurrying up’ as his main objective during his assessment of the first three Communities. He introduced a new approach for Community IV. After all of the refinements he had done on the first three Communities, this was the first he realized in accordance with his new master plan from scratch. To this day, it is also the Community that best reflects his ambitions. Doxiadis decided it was necessary to start off with a 1:1 low-cost housing pilot. He would subsequently produce the dwellings that emerged best from the test on a large scale. He tested varieties of all aspects involved in house building: construction method, plan, materials, prefabrication, use of the work force, construction time, organization of the construction site and urban layout.86 An area in Community IV was set aside for the pilot; the housing was completed in June 1963. It is an area of low-rise terraced housing with playgrounds and squares, a congenial environment with houses on intimate pedestrian streets. Its expression pleasant, the design of collective life clearly had priority here. The small squares with playgrounds, sandboxes, trees and seating between the low-rise dwellings can only be described as ‘cosy’ and are still very much in use. The small squares are the Ghanaian counterpart of the Bagdad ‘gossip squares’ that provided room for public life in the Iraqi context. The dwellings were small and simple. Their design was modern, but their typology was entirely different from that of Western houses. Though walls enclosed bedrooms, toilet and shower (!), the other spaces under the roof

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85.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, vol. 9, Report 16, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 86.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, vol. 9, Report 22, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.


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Low income housing Type B01 in Community 4, 1962. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, P-GHA-159 (11). © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Low income housing in Community 4 and the main pedestrian footpath, photographed in 1968. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, P-GHA 159 (7) © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Low income housing in Community 4 and the main pedestrian footpath, photographed in 1968. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, P-GHA-156 (16) © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Two story low income housing in Community 4, 1968. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, P-GHA-A320 (18) © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Low income housing Type B01 in Community 4, 1962. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, P-GHA-159 (3). Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Low income housing in Community 4 and the main pedestrian footpath, photographed in 1968. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, P-GHA-A, 323 (5). Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Sketches of the semi-closed areas in the proposed lower income housing. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 20, 22-8-1961. Tema-House Types. Preliminary Report. Drawings D-GHA 498, 505, 500 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Main road in the experimental housing scheme. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 22, Temaexperimental housing scheme, 10-10-1961, opposite p.30. Drawing D-GHA 584, ref 24412 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Footpath in Community 4 Tema, Ghana: Schools and houses, Slides 35437 no.34. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

awaiting permission from C.A. Doxiadis Archives Sketches of the semi-closed areas in the proposed lower income housing. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 20, 228-1961. Tema-House Types. Preliminary Report. Drawings D-GHA 498, 505, 500. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Community 4 present day (Photos: M. Provoost, 2015)

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were open in one way or another, mostly only separated from the outside world by slats. In addition, there was a lot of outdoor space: a terrace at the front and a garden or small yard at the back. Most roofs were pitched, with a slot kept open at the peak for ventilation.87 The team built a total of 300 experimental houses and after evaluation, the successful ones were copied in the other Communities. In Community VIII, for example, some 1,000 of the smallest and cheapest dwellings were built for residents in the ‘very low income’ category. The aim was to build as many dwellings for as little money as possible. This was in line with the wishes of the Ministry of Works and Housing, which was advised by a representative of the World Bank, ‘who recommended utilization of as many nucleus houses as possible’.88 And so the outdoor space fell victim to cutbacks. The planning included a budget of 15 per cent of building costs for the construction of public space and given the low budget for this Community for the poor, that was next to nothing. As a result, it had narrower streets, less or no paving in parking lots and squares, and more open drains for stormwater. The affordability of the dwellings remained problematic nevertheless. Though some terraced houses were designed as duplexes, for one family on each floor, it was impossible to lower the rent to such an extent that workers who made only 78 cents per day could afford to pay it: ‘Although lower income houses are subsidized by the Corporation, the majority of people cannot afford to pay rents which range from G£ 3 to G£ 5 monthly per residence.’89 As a final resort, barracks offered some relief, though built in nearby Ashaiman rather than in Tema. This small, seventeenth-century village had mushroomed since the building of Tema began, with an expanding self-organized settlement forming on a rudimentary road network. In 1966, the TDC decided to build a large number of barracks there for workers who would never be able to afford a house in Tema. The barracks were simple, consisting of rooms with verandahs without kitchens and shared toilets and shower blocks.90 The development of the housing types in Community IV shows how Doxiadis rejected the compound house; in the many series of experimental houses he developed, there were bungalows, row houses and apartment buildings. Every possible variation 87.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, vol. 9, Report 22, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 88.  ‘Development of Community 8’, Memo 50, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 89.  DA Newsletter (November 1963), 16, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 90.  ‘A crash programme for the construction of barrack-type dwelling units for workers in Ashaiman Village, Tema’, Memorandum August 1966, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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was tested, but they were all geared to the modern, nuclear family. Unlike Fry and Drew, who accepted the local housing habits, he decided it unfit for a modern industrialized society. Again, Doxiadis was in line with Nkrumah’s thinking, whose prime policy was the rapid modernization of the country. This was argued as follows:

As urbanization takes effect in Ghana, tribal ties and discipline must be superseded by other loyalties if a co-ordinated, law abiding society is to emerge. It is therefore important to give the urban Ghanaian a sense of community membership. The policy in Tema has been to discourage racial, tribal, religious, or class segregation, in the hope that the citizen’s loyalty will be to the neighbourhood, the community and town. This policy requires non-traditional types of housing accommodation. The tribal compound has no place in Tema, and is replaced by the private family dwelling. Differentiation of dwelling standards is purely by income, and all income-groups are represented in each community. 91

Also, Doxiadis was well aware of the risks of cities that were too homogeneous: ‘Specialized settlements always prove a failure both socially and economically.’92 Therefore, building in Tema focused on housing for not only the workers in the port and industry, but also for the according to 1960s estimates about 15 per cent of the inhabitants made up of merchants, doctors, teachers and engineers.93 Expats were a separate category: a reasonably large number of foreigners worked in Tema, most of them employed by aluminium producer Valco, a partner of Kaiser, the American engineering firm that co-constructed the Volta River Dam. To house

91.  Industrial Research of the Tropical Building Section of the Building Research Station, Gartston, Watford, Hertfordshire, England, Community Development in Tema, p. 6. For the tasks and activities of the Building Research Station, see: Jackson and Assassie Oppong, ‘The Planning of Late Colonial Village Housing in the Tropics’, op. cit. (note 18), 489.

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92.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, vol. 9, Report 16, 13, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 93.  Ghana Reports July-December 1960, vol. 9, Report 16, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.


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Tema masterplan, indicating residential densities. In general, higher densities would correspond to lower income classes. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX-GHA 65, 15-81962, The Final Master Plan, D-GHA 2066, D-GHA 2062 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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The newly finished housing, streets, gardens and public space in Communities 4 and 5 in Tema in the beginning of the 1960s.

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Community 4. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Tema’s Community 4, Ghana. PCGHA-A 272. Photographs 31467, no. 7, 45, 14, 59. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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awaiting permission from Community 4 and 5. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Tema’s Community 4, Ghana. PC-GHA-A 272. Photographs 31467, no.69; Tema’s Community 5, Ghana. PC-GHA-A 273. Photographs 31468, no. 6, 22, 12 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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its employees, Kaiser built the so-called Kaiser flats in Community IV, adjacent to the central axis. The employees were expatriates that had come from America and Europe to construct the aluminium smelter, the school and other infrastructure. They formed an independant community, with its own school and club.94 The Kaiser flats comprised 11 mid-rise gallery buildings, each dwelling generously sized with three bedrooms, two balconies and a verandah. A path covered by a canopy, not against the rain, which would have been the case in Europe, but against the sun, connected them at ground floor level. Naturally, the flats had their own garages for the Kaiser employees’ cars – among Ghanaian residents, a car was still a rare possession at that time.

SITES AND SERVICES While the city was indeed meant for a mix of incomes, these were hardly ever mixed within each Community; the workers were concentrated next to the industrial zone and along the motorway, while the highest incomes were housed along the green areas and lagoons; the Hospital Road was basically the divider. Interesting is Doxiadis’s attempt to also provide for the lowest incomes by including areas in which migrants could build their own houses. This programme was called Firm Foundations and was an example of ‘sites and services’, an approach made popular in the 1970s by John Turner, the English architect who advocated self-organized building. But sites and services actually had its roots in the pre-war period.95 Doxiadis had already worked with this method before and when he saw how migrant workers were unable to rent a house or room in Tema and

94.  ‘Memory Lane Tema’, troutsfarm.com/latest/2013-january-tema. 95.  See: Richard Harris, ‘Silence of the Experts, Aided Self-help Housing 1939-1954’, Habitat International, vol. 22 (1988) no. 2, 165-198.

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Kaiser- and Segecoflats on Hospital Road, Community 4. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DA Review Nov. 1968, p.7 Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives P-GHA-A 320 (11), P-GHA-A 320 (7). Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Plan for housing type within the Firm Foundation program. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DA Newsletter Vol.3, nr.4 1963, p.12. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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instead moved to the fast growing neighbouring slum Ashaiman, he incorporated the same concept in Tema. Doxiadis’s experience with sites and services and self-help housing went back to the post-Second World War reconstruction of Greece, when he helped residents rebuild their destroyed houses. In addition, his friend Jacob Crane, who was an ardent supporter of the sites and services approach (‘aided self-help’) after previous experiences in, for instance, Puerto Rico, had convinced him to apply the principle in the context of the Iraqi national housing programme. However, Doxiadis did not adopt the scheme without question. In Iraq, he considered state-run large-scale operations more appropriate as these allowed better monitoring of construction time, quantity and coherence to architectural style.96 In Ghana, he would try to find the solution to the shortage of affordable dwellings in the long term in the continued improvement of construction techniques, technological

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facilities and staff training on the basis of the outcomes of the experiments in Community IV. In the short term, however, that was not a viable option and he accepted the need for residents ‘to share responsibilities with the government in the construction of low-income houses’.97 During previous trips across the region, Doxiadis had come to realize several things with regard to the existing housing habits. He had seen how primitive the villages were, with bumpy dirt roads, goats, street vendors, and naked children fetching water from the well.98 People lived in huts that – in Doxiadis’s words – were scattered about randomly, without showing any comprehension of land property. This led him to conclude that the planning of Tema had to include an incremental growth strategy for this demographic, a phased planning that would allow the rational organization of organic growth over an extended period. The Firm Foundations Programme was a consequence of that insight: a sites and services scheme that was used in Community IX to build 272 dwellings in 1963.99

[This programme] involves provision of services to individual plots, in addition to which foundations and ground floor slabs could be constructed by the Authorities on each plot and handed over to the dweller who would be expected to complete the construction with his own labor and material on the basis of simplified plans made available to him and providing enough flexibility for adjustment to varying individual needs, under some technical guidance, if necessary, and of course in accordance with the existing zoning and building regulations. 100

97.  DA Newsletter (April 1963), 10, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 98.  DIARY-GHA 2 DOXIADIS C A 15.5.61, REF. 24414, p. 4, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 99.  DA Newsletter (May 1963), 21, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives. 100.  DA Newsletter (April 1963).

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Multi-storey blocks of low income flats, elevation and verandah. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DOX GHA-A 88 Vol.56, p.19, 13 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Even though the housing was self-built, Doxiadis still set great store by a coherent streetscape, which he made sure of by providing the residents with construction plans and strict regulations. Doxiadis’s unlikely ideal image was that of nice but modestly designed city, containing English-style suburban terraced houses with gardens, lived in by immigrants from different tribes, working in industry; it was an anxious, dynamic industrial metropolis designed as a suburban pastoral. But Doxiadis’s sketches also show he was not romanticizing: he also pictured the city as noisy, lively and even dirty. And that is exactly what happened.

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SOCIAL ENGINEERING The New Town was not only a product of the European welfare state; abroad it also functioned as an invocation of the welfare state, as a pedagogical model. In its first five year plan (1951), Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party’s government announced how Ghana would be developed into a modern industrial country:

For the first time in West Africa, a community could be built up enjoying all the advantages of modern civilisation – well designed houses, a well-equipped hospital and comprehensive health, social and cultural services, piped water supplies and underground sewerage, planned and lighted streets, well laid out stores and markets, pleasant gardens and open spaces, well equipped schools and community centres. 101

Despite the fact that Nkrumah’s government invested in the full range of welfare services, Ghana did not become a welfare state. It is true that Nkrumah was democratically elected, but his rule changed into a dictatorship within a few years. There was no contract between civic society and the government, or between labour and capital: it was just Nkrumah and the service equipment of the modern welfare state. Nkrumah may have seen different qualities in Doxiadis’s plan than the planner himself. Ekistics was founded on a universal humanist conviction, in which the scientific and rational order of the city served the emancipation and possibilities for the development of each human being. Creating a comfortable and reliable framework would enable residents to evolve into urbanites while shaping their own social structure. In that sense, the urban plan was an example of social engineering, aimed at an open, democratic society. But for Nkrumah the hierarchical and surveyable structure of Tema might have had another meaning: after all, surveying is related to regulation and control. That was not exceptional, since both aspects – 101. Jopp, Tema, op. cit. (note 34), 8.

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Ciud ad G uyan a Arad Typical design for Community center, in this case Community 5. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, D-GHA 167 Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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Standard offices in the center of Community 2. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, DA Review July 1967 © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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the New Town as mirror image of the open society and the New Town as a regulatory model – were also present in New Town building in Europe in the 1950s to some extent. At the level of the national governments in Western Europe, the belief in the neighbourhood principle was anchored in the fear that the masses would – in this insecure and unstable post-war period – radicalize into communism. Especially the working classes were considered to be vulnerable in this respect; they had to be embedded in a strong and reliable framework, which would emancipate them and direct them towards a social and democratic mentality. If they failed to emancipate, Western civilization would fall.102 The neighbourhood principle and the New Town model were the spatial translation of this line of thinking and provided the necessary urban framework. This was, of course, the very specific interpretation of the meaning of the neighbourhood principle within a Western context; but this element was also present in the contemporary reception and appreciation of New Towns worldwide, especially in the nation-states that were newly formed or in transition: they all had to deal with the dangers of an uprooted population and the need to safeguard it and guide the people into the new situation. Where Tema is concerned, we can safely conclude that it was not just a largescale urban project, but also a large-scale example of social engineering, in which people of different tribes and different social and cultural backgrounds would be united in a new urban community, serving the modernization ambitions of Nkrumah. The plans for Tema deliberately departed from the usual village structures, from traditional ways of cohabiting, building and living and from all the religious and social meanings these entailed. The modern master plan introduced new mutual relations between residents and had an educational component to transform the former villagers into modern urbanites. Doxiadis Associates continued the factor that had inspired the master plan since Alcock:

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102.  See: Cor Wagenaar, ‘Wederopbouw. Idee en mentaliteit’, in: Koos Bosma and Cor Wagenaar (eds.), Een geruisloze doorbraak. De geschiedenis van architectuur en stedebouw tijens de bezetting en de wederopbouw van Nederland (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1995), 225-231.


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Ciud ad G uyan a Arad Market in Tema. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, ‘Building Communities’, DA review April 1973, vol.9, nr.84, p.8. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

Standardised markets were built in the different Communities of Tema, designed by Doxiadis Associates. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Tema, Ghana: Schools and houses, Slides 35437 no.8, 19. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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streets and open spaces which in some measure recreate the village atmosphere for Tema’s new residents. . . . Most of Tema’s residents would originate from various Ghanaian villages and would be experiencing urban life for the first time. Differences of language and cultural background and the difficulties of adaptation to urban life were the major problems which the planners had to consider. The smallest neighborhood of 2,500 to 3,000 people was a unit which compared in size to the village of origin. 103

The market, commercial facilities and welfare centres were planned to encourage community feeling. That was why the core of every Community IV included a church, a community centre, a cinema and health centres, facilities that together shape a regulating and pedagogical system to achieve a democratic, open society.

THE END OF NKRUMAH Nkrumah would not last to see Tema completed: Ghanaian soldiers deposed him with the aid of the CIA in a 1966 military coup. He was forced to seek refuge in Guinea and would never return to Ghana. Today, Kwame Nkrumah is once again very popular among the Ghanaian population: they see him as a symbol of Ghanaian independence and progressiveness, as the father of the nation, a hero. This is evidenced by the large numbers of posters the roadside peddlers sell: in addition to Bob Marley and Haile Selassie, Nkrumah is a popular favourite. Former president Kufuor also liked to align himself with Nkrumah: on political billboards in Accra, he was depicted rubbing shoulders with him while he presented his own policy as a direct continuation of Nkrumah’s progressive policies under the motto: ‘Ghana is moving forward!’ Nobody seems to remember that in the early 1960s, Nkrumah’s popularity was waning and that not only the Americans, but also many Ghanaians saw him as the cause 103.  ‘Three New Cities in Africa’, DA Review, vol. 7 (October 1971), 11, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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of the country’s decline. People considered him a despot, a dictator who suffered the same ills that would affect so many of the African leaders that would follow after him: nepotism, corruption and self-aggrandizement. Many people felt that by holding on to ‘Nkrumahism’, his very own variety of socialism, he had run the formerly prosperous Gold Coast into the ground. When it was still an English colony, the country was the main exporter of cocoa worldwide, agriculture flourished, the education system was good and Ghana had the best-educated population in Africa. And there were hardly any ethnic or religious conflicts, despite the fact that the population consisted of different tribes.104 In 1959, Francis X. Sutton of the Ford Foundation had already noticed Nkrumah’s totalitarian tendencies when he visited Ghana: People were fired, the university and independent minds in general were being muzzled and the atmosphere was dominated by patronage and corruption. But like Barbara Ward, he warned against the premature and absolute condemnation of a country where there was still plenty of discussion and a lot of development. He felt that ‘it would be a great tragedy if the West wrapped itself in moral superiority and wrote off Nkrumah and Ghana’.105 A year later, when Constantinos Doxiadis visited Nkrumah in April 1960 and received the commission to develop a master plan for the Accra-Tema region, changes

Nkrumah’s popularity

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104. Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 1), 22. 105.  Francis X. Sutton, ‘General Memorandum on Visit in Ghana’, dictated 15 August 1959, The Ford Foundation Archive, General Correspondence 59.


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were made to the constitution that would greatly extend presidential power. Nkrumah ruled by decree, was in full control of the press and prosecuted his opponents. In 1964, Ghana officially became a one-party system. Opposition grew and so did the numbers of Nkrumah’s opponents: his charm had worn off. The people accused him of neglecting agriculture and abusing the cacao farmers by employing the profits of the abundant cacao production for the construction of a state industrial complex – a complex that included the harbour and the city of Tema and its many state factories. Nkrumah was also heavily criticized for his major investments in infrastructure like the Akosombo Dam and for wasting money on prestigious projects. Abroad, and especially in America, people had other reasons to consider Nkrumah dangerous. His refusal to rally behind the Western camp and his intensive contacts with Communist countries meant that the CIA constantly and suspiciously monitored him. Indeed, in this ‘hot’ spell in the Cold War there were many contacts and rapprochements between Nkrumah and the Soviet Union. Nkrumah chose not to depend on a single power block and received assistance and financial aid from both capitalists and communists (to whose ideas his policies were most closely aligned). In 1958, Nkrumah established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.106 In addition to small numbers of weapons and aircraft, the USSR made a significant investment by training Ghanaian officers and students at military KOMSOMOL schools in Moscow, and also sent consultants and engineers to help with the construction of Tema. They designed a number of neighbourhoods with tiny Soviet flats with shared living rooms, but Doxiadis found them unsuitable for Ghanaian culture and they were never built.107

106.  ‘Ghana-Soviet Union’, 1994, www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5344.html. From 1960 on, Nkrumah also had ties as well as military understandings with China, and both the GDR and Bulgary supported Ghana in a similar manner, as did, incidentally, the USA and the UK.

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107.  The apartments were never built: Doxiadis, who was responsible for the master plan, disapproved of them. He considered the dwelling type, a singleroom apartment with a common living room, unsuitable for Ghanaian culture. He found the Soviet schools too big and too expensive. His firm subsequently made a plan for that particular residential area, in Community III, itself: ‘This study was initially assigned to a team of U.S.S.R. planners who have prepared the priliminary phase of the work.’ Memoranda MD-GHA-A 1; MD-GHA-TM 1-109 1968 vol. 104, memorandum no. 24, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.


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The Soviets contributed to Nkrumah’s reign in other ways as well, though with questionable consequences. The KGB trained the National Security Service and spread a net of informers across Ghanaian society. Classic KGB operations actively fed the paranoia that gradually consumed Nkrumah. He received forged documents about alleged Western conspiracies and attacks and the result was that Nkrumah became increasingly suspicious of the USA.108 Yet another result – undesirable as far as the Russians were concerned – was that the USA increasingly saw Nkrumah as a threat, which eventually led to his deposition. Thus, partly owing to their own efforts, the USSR lost an important ally. Despite the threat of US intervention, Nkrumah continued to present himself as a visionary politician with an independent position and a middle man between the Eastern and Western Blocs. In 1965, he asked the Americans to stop bombing Vietnam. In January 1966, Nkrumah was the centre of attention during the festive inauguration of the Volta River Dam he built with American partners. He subsequently left for Asia for a diplomatic grand tour as he believed that he could mediate in the Vietnam Conflict. However, upon his arival in China, Nkrumah received news of the coup and found out he had been deposed on 24 February 1966. His former supporters now tore the posters showing his face off the walls and walked around carrying banners that read: ‘Nkrumah is NOT our Messiah.’109 The counter-revolutionary military government immediately launched an anti-communist policy and deported thousands of Soviet advisers, Chinese and other councillors from socialist countries.110 Greece, of course, was not one of these countries: Doxiadis got to stay.

AFTER THE COUP The coup was bad news for the completion of Tema: of the Communities in Doxiadis’s master plan, only Community IV had been completed and Community V was under construction. Nkrumah’s continued investments in the realization of his pet project suddenly ceased and his national policy of social modernization came to an end. The first act of the military regime was to shut down construction in Tema to carry out a thorough inspection of the organization and the work. Meanwhile, however, Doxiadis remained involved in Tema. In May 1968 he was

108.  This proved justified: long before the actual coup, the CIA and the US embassy in Accra were aware of the intentions within Ghanaian military circles to drop Nkrumah and they actively contributed to that goal. Even in 1964, US government officials and the CIA discussed candidates fit to lead a post-Nkrumah government. They discussed General Joseph A. Ankrah, who would in fact form the military junta in 1966. 109. Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 1), 192. 110.  ‘Ghana-Soviet Union’, 1994, www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5344.html.

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in Ghana, among other things to talk to the IMF officials that had been brought in by the new pro-American regime to help the country back on its feet again financially.111 Doxiadis still had friends in high places, even within the military regime. One of them was junta leader Lt. General Joseph A. Ankrah, the chairman of the National Liberation Council. And like he had once presented Nkrumah with a Greek vase, Doxiadis now gave Ankrah the book Cities of Destiny, written by his good friend and regular Delosguest Arnold J. Toynbee.112 The development of Tema was of great concern to Doxiadis. He noticed countless urban problems – problems that are bigger than ever today and, with hindsight, foretold the typical African mix of planned and informal urban development. He worried about the overcrowding of houses in which ten people sometimes shared a single room. He noticed with horror how, due to the pressure on public space, every available bit of pavement, every square and street corner in his open and green city was being used for construction: ‘Beautiful parks have turned into carparks, thereby making the heart of the city ugly.’113 On the outskirts of the city, that same overcrowding led to the emergence of slums, self-built huts and workshops that Doxiadis could only describe as ‘numerous unpleasant and indecent temporary sheds’. He called on the new regime for a long-term vision, with attention for planning and the construction of infrastructure and a water supply network. Coincidentally or not, shortly after his visit in the summer of 1968 the regime gave the resumption of construction activities in Tema the go-ahead. Between 1971 and 1973, the TDC, now under the direct rule of the military regime, commissioned Doxiadis Associates to realize 2,000 dwellings annually.114 At that time, a military junta consisting of anti-communist colonels (1967-1974) ruled in Greece as well. And it, too, commissioned Doxiadis to realize major projects, such as a master plan for Athens. Doxiadis apparently saw his Ekistics method as an approach to the human settlement that was independent of political persuasion. Nevertheless, his collaboration with the Greek colonels in particular cost him dearly in the end, as it severely damaged his reputation at home. It was impossible to realize the Ghanaian welfare state without Nkrumah’s governmental support and the same was true of the welfare city of Tema. Mostly third 111.  ‘Planning Expert Due in’, The Evening News, 11 May 1968. 112.  ‘Book Gift for Ankrah’, Daily Graphic, 21 May 1968. 113.  ‘Consultant: Industrialise Rural Areas’, The Evening News, 23 May 1968. 114.  ‘Ghana: Tema’, DA Review (January 1973), 21, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.

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Ciud ad G uyan a Arad Doxiadis presents General J.A. Ankrah, the second president of Ghana, with the book Cities of Destiny, newspaper clipping from the Daily Graphic May 21st, 1968. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Š Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

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parties went on to realize the housing. They built numerous villas in Community VI, close to the lagoon and designated as a high-income area. A boy from Tema village, by then graduated and the owner of an architecture office, designed one of them: architect Emmanuel Adjeteh. He built his own house here, a detached modernist concrete villa. Having previously built the Kaiser flats in Community IV, aluminium concern Valco added complexes for its staff in Community VI. The healthy financial situation that existed under Nkrumah, however, with the government initiating, organizing and paying for urban planning, was gone forever. The pace of construction in Tema slowed down, production became more one-sided and the careful composition of architecture and public space was lost. Successive governments, some of them right wing and others socialist, sometimes military and then again civilian, reformulated the housing policy until finally, in the 1990s, a private sector-oriented policy prevailed. This did not happen without difficulties. Ever since the 1970s, the IMF and the World Bank had been charting the course of the economic development of Ghana, as a condition for loans. This led to the privatization of the state-owned companies Nkrumah had founded.115 To Tema, this liberalization policy meant that government grants to the TDC that were still ongoing were cut. To tap into alternative sources of income, it decided to sell off social housing as well as plots of land for self-building purposes. This was not very successful to begin with. Sales of homes to tenants were disappointing. Most buildings were rented by big companies, which needed large numbers of apartments for their personnel and did not want to bear any responsibility for maintenance. Only a handful of individual tenants took up the offer. Nevertheless, the 1970s saw the completion of another three Communities, partly because socially mobile workers now belonged to the middle classes and went on to build themselves houses on the TDC’s serviced plots. The TDC’s hopes that the private sector would realize workers’ housing on the serviced land came to nothing: rather than for the lowest incomes, they built for the middle incomes.

PRIVATIZATION More serious problems arose in the 1980s. The dwellings in the oldest Communities were of course no longer new and needed maintenance. But the extremely low rents yielded an income that was too low to pay for the upkeep of either the properties or the living environment. 115.  ‘Tema is Decaying Slowly’, 19 May 2009, www.modernghana.com/news/224262/1/tema-is-decaying-slowly.html.

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Rents were that low to keep the housing affordable, but also because politicians had systematically withheld their consent for necessary but unpopular rent increases, as Paul Asabere wrote:

The TDC has been prevented from implementing rent increases by past governments for over 50 years due to a political lack of will to do so. In the end, the consequences of the binding rent controls coupled with the withdrawal of government subsidies in the late 1970s due to a general lack of funds in the country . . . contributed to the failure of the TDC’s housing programme. 116

There were a few other factors that aggravated the situation. An administrative reorganization left the TDC with less influence and less money to spend. As in any New Town, authorities established a democratic body and structure in Tema once the city had reached a certain size. This happened incrementally, until Tema became an independent municipality in 1990, governed by the Tema Metropolitan Assembly. The TMA not only took over many of the TDC’s tasks, but also many of the funding the TDC received for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, with predictable consequences. Owing to the continued devaluation of the Ghanaian currency in the 1980s, the rental income decreased dramatically until the rents at one time amounted to no more than 2 per cent of the price of similar dwellings on the open market.117 As a result, the occupancy rate of the dwellings rose to 100 per cent and no-one ever moved out: after all, tenants lived virtually for free. Many people also saw the cheap housing as a profitable source of income and rented out dwellings or rooms at free-market prices. Meanwhile, the population of Tema grew by some 2.8 per cent annually, achieving the milestone of 100,000 inhabitants in 1985. A growing number of private developers and institutional parties bought land from the TDC to build houses on, but they never managed to make them affordable for the people with the lowest incomes. This led to an uncontrolled growth of informal settlements.

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Tema was nevertheless in its prime in the 1980s; it was a popular settlement location and had a good reputation.

Tema, with its well-developed roads, industrial, commercial and residential estates, became the pride of the nation. It became the destination of young school leavers who sought a living at the sprawling main harbour, the adjoining fishing harbour and the numerous factories the city could boast of. Those were the days Tema was vibrating with activity throughout the day and night, with big buses of the various companies ferrying their workers to and from work on their shifts. You could see the buses belonging to VALCO, Tema Shipyard and Drydock Corporation, Ghana Textiles and Printing (GTP), Ghana Textiles Manufacturing Company (GTMC), Tema Steel Works, Sanyo Electronics, Akasanoma Electronics, Tema Food Complex Company (TFCC) and of course the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and many others on the streets of Tema moving in all directions for 24 hours. These were vibrant companies that provided thousands of Ghanaian workers and their dependents with livelihood. Ghana was really heading towards industrialisation. 118

118.  ‘Tema is Decaying Slowly’, op. cit. (note 115).

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In 1994, the acceptance of three strategies put forward by the IMF and the World Bank consolidated the trend towards privatization. In the first place, participation in affordable housing by the private sector was to be encouraged. In addition, it was decided that the dwellings in the first Communities were to be sold to residents. Finally, the TDC was expected to start a special ‘Site and Services’ programme.119 This was similar to the Firm Foundations Programme Doxiadis started in the 1960s and involved plots that the TDC provided with water, sewers and electricity and subsequently issued to residents inclusive of these services so they could realize their own homes on them. The TDC programme was different in the sense that rather than being aimed at providing the poorest residents with dwellings, it was meant to provide the TDC with new capital through the sale of building plots. Unlike in the 1970s, the sale of properties was a success this time, because by now most of the workers had managed to become entrepreneurs:

Most of the tenants who were previously factory workers are now owners of small and medium scale business enterprises and therefore purchased their houses in order to have legal titles that they used as collaterals for loans to expand their businesses. 120

The Sites and Services scheme was also successful and, using this strategy, three Communities were built in a few years. As a private company, the TDC received income from the land sales that were part of the programme. Later communities, like Community XX, consist mainly of villas and detached houses, well equipped and protected, but without any kind of public space or amenities. The owners of these houses are mainly retirees and foreigners or belong to the diaspora of Ghanaians that amassed their capital abroad: more than 55 per cent of all newly built homes are sold to Ghanaian expats that live abroad.121 In these neighbourhoods, only a benevolent eye can still discern the outlines of Doxiadis’s master plan. Their structure comprises only streets for car traffic. There

119.  William Kenneth Acquah, Urban Development Problems of Ghana: The Case of Tema (Lund University, 2001), www.lth.se/fileadmin/hdm/alumni/papers/ad2001/ad2001-07. pdf.

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120.  Ibid., 8. 121.  www.timeincnewsgroupcustompub.com/sections/100726_Ghana.pdf.


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are no squares, centres or other communal spaces. The finer points of the earlier Communities’ design are wholly absent here. The unity-in-diversity of the architectural setup that Doxiadis so valued has been replaced by a motley collection of individual palaces. But as it turned out, the Sites and Services programme was also not able to facilitate housing for those with lower incomes profitably or even cost-effectively. Every attempt by the sector to realize affordable housing failed: at their completion, the dwellings were found too expensive and only suitable for the middle incomes. That meant that the shortage of cheap dwellings persisted, as did overcrowding and subletting; houses were maximally extended, topped up and built-on, and most gardens were sacrificed and built over as well. The conflict with the traditional chiefs of the villages Teshi, Nungua and Labadi, whose land the TDC had bought, remained unresolved, which led to spatial problems. The chiefs protested that they had not ceded their land to allow the TDC and some officials to make huge profits while they were fobbed off with a small amount of compensation. In order to share in the benefit, they continued to sell land, but without services: as a result, vast residential areas devoid of paved roads, sanitation, water, electricity, sewers or drainage emerged. During the economic crisis, some of the tenant farmers who worked big farms around Tema also decided to divide their land and illegally sublet residential plots. This is how large areas consisting of shabby informal settlements grew on the fringes of Tema. Over the past decade, moreover, informalization has advanced from the inside out: the old parts of the city, especially Communities I and II, though constructed in accordance with the master plan, are now completely run down and overcrowded; public amenities such as street lighting, water supply and sewers have been neglected and are out of order. Tema has entered a new phase, one in which the New Town is in need of renovation.

THREE CORES The three cores that have developed and mushroomed since 1950-1960, each in its own way, are Tema Manhean, New Town Tema and Ashaiman, the informal settlement adjacent to Tema. The design concept for Tema Manhean put emphasis on local culture and habits and chose a participatory planning process to translate these into a contemporary village. The plan for Tema by Doxiadis elected for the universal and adhered to top-down planning in order to create a modern metropolis. Ashaiman, on the other hand, was never the subject of a conscious urban planning concept. It relies

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on the simplest of planning and on the self-organization of inhabitants with no other ambitions than to house the poor. The three cities could not have been more different. In the present Western discourse on urbanization there is a strong conviction that local habits and cultures should be respected; an approach that is very close to that of Fry and Drew. But after 60 years, their approach clearly shows its shortcomings. Is it actually possible to build for the huge urbanization taking place today by solely employing small-scale, participatory and contextual methods? Large-scale, top-down planning has become suspect and generic planning has been – rightfully – judged on its many shortcomings. Doxiadis’s plans show nonetheless that a top-down, large-scale method of planning does not necessarily lead to a cultural disaster. Looking at the history of Tema, it seems inescapable that all three different ways of planning or simply building a city, each with its benefits and shortcomings, are necessary to accommodate fast urbanization. Only a combination of these attitudes and their methods will work in the long run: a combination between the local and the universal attitude, the bottom-up and the top-down process, the technocratic, the participatory, self-organization, the large scale and the small scale, the visionary and the practical. Some of the contrasts between the different cores are the result of the difference in the commissions Fry and Drew, and Doxiadis were given: the large scale was a given fact for Doxiadis and residents’ participation was hardly an option for him since he was designing for a largely unknown population. However, the question to what extent the local culture, habits and traditions are of significance in urban planning for a strongly urbanizing area is interesting even now. In the twenty-first century this issue is again being debated in the context of contemporary global urbanization. The same goes for the problem best demonstrated by Ashaiman, where urban planning by professionals has virtually been absent and where inhabitants – out of necessity – are experienced with self-organization, which is the very thing presently en vogue in Western Europe.

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Fry and Drew’s creation, Tema Village, has – as was predicted even in the 1960s – become a slum. The choice to respect Tema village as an autonomous entity to safeguard the identity of the villagers has not worked out well. It has in fact made the area into the ghetto of the Ga community in the Tema region: living circumstances are worse and housing and amenities are cheaper and less attractive than in nearby Tema; the village people live – literally – in the smoke of Tema’s industry, and while traditional fishing still exists, it has become marginal, thanks to international competition. There is still a chief, who has a (concrete) palace and traditional court household, but most


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Type IV Housing shortly after completion in late 1950s. Photo: Michael Hirst

of his time is spent fighting to get compensation for the crowded and polluted state the village is in. The original urban plan and the houses designed by Fry and Drew are hardly recognizable among the many extensions and ‘illegal’ buildings erected between, above and around them. The geometric patterns created by the compound housing are only visible from the air, and then with some difficulty. The TDC only allowed extensions of the same quality as the Fry and Drew housing, which was properly designed and met minimum requirements. The residents, however, saw no reason not to build as they had always done.122 It is a poor, polluted area, surrounded by industry, with a view of next-door neighbour Tema, where everything seems better and more hopeful. The ambition to respect the villagers’ original living habits and social structure where possible has been overtaken by the reality of the fast-modernizing outside world. The village is no longer an enclave, but has become an economic and social part of modern Tema. The villagers’ resentment about their resettlement and the bad deal they got feeds their bitterness to this day.

122.  Amarteifio, Butcher and Whitham, Tema Manhean, op. cit. (note 25), 32.

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Community 1 in 2007 Community 1 in 2015 overcrowded

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Tema Manhean

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Slums started in Ashaiman in the 60s

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The city of Tema does not look like a clean English New Town anymore, as it did on the pictures taken shortly after its completion. The modernist row houses are hidden behind self-built rooms and shops and the wide streets are lined with illegal kiosks. Although the public space was not intended to be used this way, the New Town still takes advantage of the unusual amount of open space that was originally designed. And the institutions that were planned – schools, hospitals, churches and community centres – function well and are widely and actively used. Being one of the very few rationally planned environments in the Accra region, Tema is regarded in Ghana as a desirable place to live. The city has maintained some of its pioneering New Town character: to be called a ‘Tema-boy’ is a compliment and means that you are good at seizing opportunities and will climb the social ladder. While the people with the lowest incomes have no choice but to settle in the nearby self-organized settlement of Ashaiman, Tema is turning more and more into a haven for the middle classes. There is hardly any information available about the development of Ashaiman, the third part of this urban region. It grew from a small village that housed the overflow of dockworkers that Tema could not accommodate into a city that now has more inhabitants than Tema itself. Officially, the city has a population of 300,000 (2013) and informally 1,000,000, whereas Tema counts some 160,000 residents. There was never an urban vision for Ashaiman and no foreign designers were involved in this area, but the road structure is, to a certain degree, recognizably a grid. The land is covered by shacks and small houses. The barracks built in the 1960s constitute only a small portion of the housing stock, most of which is self-built. More than in the housing, the lack of planning makes itself felt in the poor infrastructure and public facilities. In contrast to those of Tema, Ashaiman’s power and drinking water supply are unreliable and irregular. Many of its streets are unpaved and lack gutters, and as a result the city floods regularly. Increasingly frequent heavy rainfalls cause a lot of damage. The mostly wooden dwellings often burn down, endangering entire neighbourhoods. The lack of sanitation and the poor hygienic facilities regularly lead to outbreaks of serious diseases such as cholera. Though the city has some 100 traditional healers, there is only one single public health centre.123 The succession of problems it faces has earned Ashaiman the dubious reputation of ‘the rotten rib of the formerly prosperous port of Tema’. Nevertheless, Ashaiman and Tema have been an inseparable economic and social unit for 60 years. They grew up together and Ashaiman would not have existed without Tema and Tema not without

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123.  Barbara Torresi, ‘Information Is Power: Ashaiman Residents Drive Profiling in Greater Accra, Ghana’, 16 August 2012, www.sdinet.org/blog/2012/08/16/information-power-ashaiman-accra-residentsdrive-p/.


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Ashaiman. For the day-to-day functioning of this urban area, Ashaiman supplies the workers that commute by trotro (private bus) from their informal settlement to their jobs in the port of Tema, it offers affordable dwellings to the cleaning and domestic staff of Tema’s exclusive residential neighbourhoods, and it contains a vast market that sells everything from car parts and furniture to food and coffins. It is easy to romanticize a self-organized city such as Ashaiman into a proud and independent place with its own rules and inventions. Be that as it may, Ashaiman also clearly shows the risks and disadvantages of informal planning, literally posing a threat to the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants. To improve the quality of life, the city took the step to become independent from Tema in 2008. Ashaiman felt subordinated and neglected by the TMA and had no dedicated development corporation like the TDC. Nowadays, the city has its own strategy for addressing the necessary urban renewal. While Tema, through its origins as a planned city, has an organizational framework that even today can provide relatively large-scale, top-down methods to intervene, such a thing is impossible in Ashaiman. Ashaiman wants to follow the example of Old Fadama, the large slum near the centre of Accra that managed to clean itself up and get rid of its illustrious ‘Sodom and Gomorra’ nickname in a single decade. A plethora of NGOs is standing by to provide aid: from the Ghanaian People’s Dialogue, TAMSUF (Tema Ashaiman Metropolitan Slum Upgrading Facility) and the GHAFUP (Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor) to Cities Alliance and Slum Dwellers International, the multinational among slum improvement organizations. Both the authorities and residents are investing a lot of energy and effort in small-scale projects like the Amui Djor project in the Tulaku area of Ashaiman: 31 apartments each measuring 18 m2 above 15 shops, with a commercial toilet and bathing facility.124 Clearly, the urban improvement of Ashaiman will require a lot of time if it depends on such piecemeal, small-scale projects. A comprehensive business model for the construction or improvement of affordable dwellings has yet to be found: here, urban renewal takes place with the aid of international NGOs and development aid funding.

124.  www.auhf.co.za/wordpress/assets/TAMSUFS-ROLE-IN-PROVIDING-AFFORDABLE-HOUSING.pdf.

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awaiting permission from C.A. Doxiadis Archives

MEGA-REGION AND NATIONAL PLANNING The mushrooming city puts a lot of pressure on the area. Doxiadis’s seemingly radical 1960 vision, which anticipated that the entire Accra-Tema zone would turn into a single urban area, has long since materialized. Accra and Tema have grown together, though not based on the infrastructural grid Doxiadis recommended. Without good roads, the area is nothing but a chain of slums and self-organized settlements, everything covered by a thick crust of commercial kiosks and stalls on either side of the bumpy two-lane roads, a traffic nightmare that turns the mere 20 km that separate Accra from Tema into an hours-long adventure. But it is not only this stretch of the coast that is urbanizing quickly: the entire West-African coast from Abidjan in Ivory

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Coast up to Lagos, Nigeria is turning into one continuous, 500 Mile long city: ‘Here and there already, the continent’s biggest cities are spawning enormous urban corridors that are spilling over borders and creating vigorous new economic zones that are outstripping the ability of weak and plodding central governments to manage or even retain their hold on them.’125 The national policies in the five countries of this mega-region (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria) are now anticipating the economic power that is being unleashed and will accommodate this by means of new international infrastructure: the Trans West-African highway is being planned, paralleled by a railroad. Ghana is one of the forerunners in Africa when it comes to national spatial planning: in 2013 it launched a ‘National Urban Policy’, a comprehensive programme of measures to deal with rapid urbanization. More than half of all Ghanaians already lived in cities in that year (at the time of independence that was only 30 per cent126), and the country’s urban population is expected to double between 2000 and 2025.127 Moreover, some 51 per cent of urban residents live in slums.128 When the country became independent in 1957, it had a population of 6.7 million and it now houses almost four times that number (24.6 million people in 2010), expecting to grow to 34.7 million in 2035.129 And while in 1960 491,000 people lived in the Accra region, this number had risen to an astonishing 5.8 milion in 2010 and the government even expects its population to be almost doubled by 2035, to 11.1 million inhabitants.130 In the National Spatial Development Framework that was published in 2015, a wide and varied set of instruments is presented, ranging from growth poles and corridors, spatially targeted investments like special economic zones, informal settlement upgrading projects and local economic development

125.  www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/how-africas-new-urban-centers-are-shifting-its-old-colonial-boundaries/277425/. 126.  National Urban Policy Framework (Ministry of Local Government and Rural Government, May 2012), 3, www.giz.de/en/downloads/giz2012-en-national-urban-policyframework.pdf. 127.  ‘Ghana launches first-ever National Urban Policy’, www.citiesalliance.org/node/3748. 128.  Ibid.

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129.  National Urban Policy Framework, op. cit. (note …), 13. 130.  Ghana National Spatial Development Framework (2015-2035), Executive Summary, Table 4.2, 4-35. www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/aboutghana/regions/greater-accra.


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programmes.131 A number of mega-projects are foreseen for the near future, including two international airports, three new harbours, international roads and railways, a green infrastructure network and agricultural growth corridor, urban foodsheds and alternative energy projects. Although in general the strategy is to promote existing urban settlements and discourage new (small) ones, a new Airport City is envisaged in the centre of the triangle Accra-Kumasi-Takoradi, to combine international airtraffic with an economic hub and a city of 500,000.132 All this will be financed thanks to a formidable increase of GDP, which is expected to double by 2025 and after that will double once more in the decade up to 2035.133 The Accra City Region, of which Tema is now one of the districts, is one of the three most urbanized areas in Ghana and is therefore also a focus of the National Planning Policy. Centrally located in the West African coastal mega-region, Accra is a magnet for investments. Its population grew at a staggering 3.54 and 3.92 per cent annually between 2000 and 2010.134 But while the population is growing, the density is declining, and the city is sprawling.135 Therefore the government aims to contain the city and increase its density. Just east of Tema a new city, Ningo Pram Pram, is being planned for 1 million inhabitants. The innovative grid design for this city, based on flexibility, the possibility for organic growth and the safeguarding of a green and water network for sustainability and safety reasons, is developed in cooperation with UN-Habitat, who state: ‘This National Priority Planned City Extension would represent an international example of sustainable urban development in West Africa, positioning Ghana as a national champion in addressing fast urbanization challenges.’136

URBAN RENEWAL In Tema, the density of the first built Communities is not declining, but dramatically increasing. The oldest parts of the city, Communities I to IV, have become seriously overcrowded over the past decade and have partly deteriorated into slums

131.  Ghana National Spatial Development Framework (2015-2035), Executive Summary, Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Town and Country Planning Department, National Development Planning Commission, Febr. 2015. www.ghanalap.gov.gh/files/NSDF-Final-Report-EXECSUM-Vol-III-FinalEdition-TAC.pdf. 132.  For an explanation of the Airport City concept, see: www.aerotropolis.com/files/AirportCities_TheEvolution.pdf. 133.  Ghana National Spatial Development Framework (2015-2035), Executive Summary, Figure 6.1, 6-53. 134.  Ibid. 135.  Between 1985 and 2000, Accra’s overall density decreased at the annual rate of 3.2 per cent and between 2000 and 2010 it decreased at 5.8 per cent per annum. 136.  ‘UN-Habitat and partners hold forum on extension of Accra’, unhabitat.org/un-habitat-and-partners-hold-forum-on-extension-of-accra/.

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owing to the continued population growth and the lack of maintenance and new affordable housing.137 Whereas the dwellings in Community IV were meant to house 5.5 residents, they accommodated 8.6 people in 2000. In the resettlement village Tema Manhean there are 12.3 inhabitants per dwelling and in neighboring Ashaiman as many as 15.138 In 2010, the Tema Development Corporation had plans drawn up for the restructuring of some of the oldest areas in Tema. By 2015, the first new buildings were realized in Community I, where new residential towers, designed by the TDC and constructed by a Chinese contractor, have arisen in the space between Fry and Drew’s apartment blocks from the 1950s, introducing densification and high-rise building as starting points for Tema’s urban renewal. This strategy is not only necessitated by the great need for housing, but especially by financial considerations: the construction of a new public service infrastructure (water, power and sewers) is only affordable if the housing density is increased. Public services are in urgent need of renovation: the sewer system is in ruins and the water and electricity networks are in a state of disrepair. At first sight it looks as if urban renewal is taking place within the framework of the original master plan, consisting only of densification and the realization of parts of Doxiadis’s plan that were never completed. Nkrumah’s government financed and built the original plan, but political and economic conditions have changed drastically since then. Within the context of a privatized TDC and given the effects of a globalized economy – which affects both housing demand (by expats) and housing construction (by Chinese parties) in Tema – simply completing the old master plan is not enough. That is why in 2010, the TDC commissioned Accra-based office The Consortium, led by planner Frank Tackie, to revise the master plan in which they focused on the city centre and on Community IV.

CITY CENTRE The need for a revision becomes evident in the city centre, which was one of the first commissions Doxiadis received in 1960. He launched a well-known – though in the Ghanaian context rather ominous – model that would have better fit a dense Western metropolis than Tema: an elevated pedestrian platform surrounded by shops, covering

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137.  thechronicle.com.gh/redevelopment-of-tema-to-begin-november/, 9 October 2012. 138.  Marjolein Lyssens, Dwelling Transformations in Community 4, Tema, Ghana (Master’s thesis University of Leuven, 2011-2012), 28-29.


Chinese contractors are building infill apartment blocks against the backdrop of Maxwell Fry & Jane Drew’s walkup flats from the 50’s in Tema, Community I

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wide motorways and spacious parking lots. The centre was supposed to be Tema’s transport hub and central business district (CBD) with banks, offices, shops and other city functions. One of the first structures built was the Meridien hotel that Doxiadis’s architecture firm designed in 1963 and completed in 1967. The Meridien was a 185-room luxury hotel that followed global tastes and trends in business hotels and targeted business people who visited the city drawn by the port economy. The hotel was to set the tone for the look of Tema’s city centre: ‘Catering to the wealthier tourist and more especially to resident or itinerant businessmen, the Meridien Hotel has been built to high standards, with restaurants, bars, shops, hairdresser’s salon, etc.’139 It was one of the state hotels established during Nkrumah’s reign and a showpiece of modern Accra, besides the Ambassador, the Continental and the Star Hotel downtown. However, after the dissolution of the State Hotel Corporation in 1994, The Meridien was privatized and sold to new Malaysian owners, who stripped the building. It was subsequently squatted and turned into a drug den; currently it looks like a ruin. Although several banks were 549

139.  DA Review (July 1969), 7, Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives.


Selling kitchen equipment, parking trucks, and banking in the centre of Tema. (Photo: M. Provoost 2015)

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built in the CBD in the 1960s, the few scattered blocks amid the wastelands never managed to form a city centre. The new centre plan designed by The Consortium in 2010 is waiting on implementation, but its financing is hardly guaranteed as it depends on funds, USAid and the World Bank.140 Given the unrealistic character of the plan and the many outdated urban planning ideas that inspired it, the fact that it may fail to materialize is hardly regrettable. Apart from the centre near the harbour, Doxiadis’s plan gave the centre space to grow outwards, along the Hospital Road, the axis connecting the harbour to the motorway in the north. However, Hospital Road did not grow into the anticipated city centre either. More than anything, it is used as a spaciously dimensioned thoroughfare with undefined flanks, busy and chaotic traffic and a few haphazardly scattered facilities. In Doxiadis’s view, Tema’s major commercial, educational and collective facilities would concentrate in the city centre, and later extend along this central axis, which he saw as a continuation of the centre. Indeed: Doxiadis wanted to prevent the growing centre from being trapped in a concentric position, which had invariably happened in historical European cities. Spreading the centre functions along the traffic axis would allow for dynamic development. However, precisely the connection between these two areas, the centre and the axis, failed to materialize. In the future transformation of Tema this is one of the crucial challenges.

COMMUNITY IV Community IV has been designated by TDC as the first urban renewal area to set a new spatial and business standard for Tema’s spatial development. To that end, the area comprising the Kaiser flats has been appointed a pilot project. Originally built for Kaiser’s (European) employees, the flats were later rented out to Ghanaians. Again, the rent was insufficient to allow maintenance and authorities declared four blocks of flats unfit to live in because of their poor constructional condition as early as 1993.141 However, squatters subsequently moved into some of the flats and they

140.  Lyssens, Dwelling transformations in Community 4, op. cit. (note …), 27. 141.  Joseph Ayitio and Kwadwo Ohene Sarfoh, ‘Nkrumah’s Flagship and the Dilemma of Ghana’s Urban and Housing Future’, www.urbanafrica.net/urban-voices/9733, 13 October 2014.

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Architectural perspective of proposed downtown developments. Adopted from Lyssens, M. (2012) ‘Dwelling Transformations in community 4, Tema, Ghana – Interplays of structure and incremental development.’ Masters’ thesis, University of Leuven, Belgium.

are currently used very differently than originally planned: the garages are in use as workshops or shops, the dwellings on the ground floor have been developed into hairdressers or kiosks, and chickens are kept in the communal courtyard. It is a lively community, but the buildings are ruins. The residents have lost all their court cases against demolition and displacement and the TDC redevelopment plan, in which a Chinese investor is participating, is ready for implementation. Some of the residents made use of ‘the right to buy’ long ago, however, and are therefore the legal owners of their apartments. This further complicates matters and means that the TDC will have to buy out these residents, who are well aware of the value of their property. In the involvement of Chinese parties another legacy of Nkrumah becomes visible: the relations with China he initiated in 1960. After 55 years, this relationship is intense 553


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and thriving, and both exports and imports to China are increasing.142 Many of the old state industries have changed into Chinese hands and Chinese private and state companies constructed much of the infrastructure, such as motorways and the recent Bui Dam in northwest Ghana. Now also in building the urban renewal projects, the Chinese are playing an increaslingly important role. The urban regeneration plot in Community IV is ideally located along the central axis of Tema and near the unofficial city centre in Community I, which has developed into a lively area with a busy daily market. With the dilapidated Kaiser flats demolished, the construction of a new mixed-use complex aims to demonstrate the potential and the positive sides of densification. Simultaneously, the new buildings are supposed to present the best way to develop the central axis and set an example for the other vacant or underused locations along the axis. The plan, designed in 2010 by The Consortium/Design Associates, consists of high residential buildings, a shopping mall, a theatre and auditorium and parking facilities in a dated design that is emphatically not in keeping with modernist Tema. Nevertheless, the TDC hopefully anticipates a high iconic value and sees this project as a model for the redevelopment of the whole of Tema, one it even thinks it can export to other parts of Ghana.143 It is a new spatial and business model, therefore, that transcends the city boundaries of Tema and links to the wider development ambitions of the region.

A HIGH-RISE CITY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASSES Tema’s challenges and ambitions for the future show that its development still parallels that of its Western contemporaries, the New Towns in the UK, the Netherlands or Scandinavia. Tema, too, struggles with the fact that it never amounted to much more than a dormitory town that lacks entertainment, restaurants and metropolitan functions. The TDC believes that ‘Tema is less urban than Doxiadis meant it to be: it should become a real urban settlement, a complete city’.144 This ambition echoes the current desires of the post-war Western European New Towns, where the regeneration of New Towns also centres on the creation of ‘a complete city’. To remain attractive, the often homogeneous housing stock has to become more versatile and the city needs more urban facilities. Like any other New Town, Tema is adding a theatre, a cinema and

142.  ‘Ghana Looks Forward to Stronger Ties With China: FM’, allafrica.com/stories/201507071062.html. 143.  Richard Attenkah, ‘Ghana: TDC to Commence Redevelopment of Tema Soon’, 3 December 2014, allafrica.com/stories/201412240888.html. 144.  Interview by the author with Emmanuel Adjeteh (Chairman of the board, TDC) and Joe Abbey (CEO TDC), February 2015.

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other entertainment venues to rise to the standards of a traditional, complete city. And again, like in other New Towns, it is the open space, the parks and the sports fields that are the first to be sacrificed and built over because, like low-hanging fruit, they are easy to pick and use for densification. The limitations Tema encounters during its pursuit of renewal are not unique, either: in Western Europe, the financial and institutional frameworks that led to the building of the post-war neighbourhoods and New Towns of the welfare state in the 1960s disappeared as well. Here, too, housing associations and government agencies that organized the construction of housing and the planning of cities were privatized in the 1980s and 1990s. Consequently, social housing made way for middle-class dwellings. In this respect, Tema is also beginning to resemble the Western New Towns, in this case owing to the global trend of privatizing government agencies. Of course, the challenges Tema faces are bigger and more complicated than those of its Western counterparts, especially because of the large income differences and the absence of an economic model to build for the largest group of people, those with the lowest incomes. The most topical question is how the TDC – as a privatized agency – can develop a new business model now that the old one has run its course. The income generated year after year by the Sites and Services programme dried up when the TDC ran out of undeveloped land. Communities were developed on all acres reserved for the city in 1952. The ambitions of the TDC are those of an expanding company: there is an active lobby to suspend the separation of powers between the TMA and the TDC, which are a thorn in the TDC’s flesh. The separation, established in 1974, led to confusing situations with negative consequences to the living environment and to the power of the TDC, which states: ‘They forgot to dovetail TMA and TDC at the separation.’ While the TDC is constructing the infrastructure, the TMA is responsible for its maintenance. The TDC draws up spatial plans and guidelines, but the TMA issues the building permits. In the streets of Tema, double threats with regard to upcoming demolition, one signed by the TMA and the other by the TDC, often adorn illegal kiosks and extensions. In short, the two organizations compete with each other and this leads to confusion and inefficiency. Financially, the TDC is doing quite well again, the organization has made huge profits over the past years.145 However, the lower income brackets do not share in the benefits and like before, hardly any houses are built for them. The small stock of

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145.  ‘Mr. Emmanuel Oko Adjetey, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TDC, disclosed that the corporation generated a gross income of GH¢39.7 million, showing a growth of 37.5% over GH¢29.9 million (excluding revaluation gains) generated in 2012’, in: Richard Attenkah, ‘Ghana: TDC to Commence Redevelopment of Tema Soon’, 3 December 2014, allafrica.com/stories/201412240888.html.


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affordable housing built to resettle residents from Tema’s restructuring areas is located far outside Tema, in Kpone. Tema is changing into a middle-class city, something architect Emmanuel Adjetey, long-time resident of Tema and presently Chairman of the Board of TDC, is also disappointed about. He ‘regretted that the high cost of financing estate development has seen the low income earners being left out of house ownership schemes’. ‘Exorbitant interest on commercial loans for housing have seen offshore customers and nonresident Ghanaians becoming the determinants of rent rates on housing in the country,’ Mr Adjetey deplores.146 Tema is fortunate because it can build on a good spatial and organizational structure that is still proving its usefulness. Starting from this position, the city can develop adjustments that address its current condition. By now, Tema is part of a densely built-over region and can no longer pass for an autonomous city. The harbour is thriving and handles 70 per cent of all outgoing and maritime cargo in Ghana. Plans for expansion and extra container terminals are being implemented, creating a need for additional infrastructure connecting the harbour to the motorway and the region. Inevitably, planners need to be aware of the connections between the physical, economic and programmatic structure of Tema and that of Ashaiman, between the planned and the self-organized cities that form an indistinguishable economic and social entity. From a low-rise city amid the trees, surrounded by green lagoon oases, Tema is changing into a high-rise city for the middle classes, surrounded by informal settlements. Formerly open spaces are increasingly built over. The clumps of trees along the roads and the parks as well as the big lagoons are first neglected, then they become filthy and finally, when it is difficult to see their value anymore, they are built over. The lagoons, which at the time of Independence played a crucial role in the religion of the original inhabitants of the village of Tema, are perceived as the ideal location for new asphalt. Tema is becoming less recognizable as a social city, a beacon of Nkrumah’s socialism, a pioneering place for modern Ghana, with the open urban design that symbolized a new society. The schools have ceded their importance to the churches, which are the great unifying factor among Ghanaians now. Many colossal Christian churches attract their herds and many more, as big as warehouses, are being constructed along the main roads.

146.  Della Russel Ocloo, ‘TDC Takes Possession of Four Block Apartments within the Kaiser Flats’, Graphic Online, 5 December 2014, graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/34955-tdctakes-possession-of-four-block-apartments-within-the-kaiser-flats.html.

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Extension of harbour, 2016

One of the many unfinished churches along the main roads of Tema

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As urbanization speeds up, economic growth, climate refugees and a high birth rate ensure a permanent influx of residents to the entire coastal zone. The Accra region with its sprawling urbanization is slowly filling up in a mostly unplanned, organic way. Aerial pictures of Ashaiman show a steady increase in footprint, year after year. Tema is slowly becoming one of the rare planned parts of the 500-mile city starting at Abidjan and extending to Lagos. Ecumenopolis, the global city that Doxiadis envisioned in the 1960s, is slowly but inescapably materializing today.

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Ciudad Guyana, Venezuela

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Karume’s Zanzibar New Town

Antoni Folkers

ZANZIBAR NEW TOWN, TANZANIA

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Alam a Michenzani today (source: M. Woestenburg / A. Denissen / A.C. van Buiten)

One of the first things that meets the eye on the approach to Zanzibar Airport is the massive cross formed by huge grey slabs in the middle of an endless sea of randomly placed houses. This is Michenzani New Town, an alienating presence in an otherwise quite typical African city. The rigidity and size of the ten Michenzani ‘Trains’ (300-m-long apartment blocks, six to eight storeys high, each containing an average of 144 apartments) and the extremely wide four-lane roads with a huge fountain at their crossing is out of proportion, even for a ‘standard’ post-war modernist neighbourhood. There is hardly a greater contrast imaginable between the fine-grained tissue of old Ng’ambo, the so-called ‘other side’ of Stone Town with its narrow and crooked alleys, low Swahili houses with internal courtyards, and the orthogonal and spacious road layout with its enormous collective housing units. The Trains, as they are called by the Zanzibari, are positioned in military order, with endlessly repetitive strip windows and galleries set in a monotonous drab concrete frame. They recall the Plattenbauquarters of former communist Eastern Bloc countries, but what are they doing in the middle of a bustling African city? The eminent Zanzibari historian Abdul Sheriff goes as far as speaking of the crucifixion of Zanzibar.1 Public space in Michenzani is, of necessity, used differently than usual. In the open space of Michenzani, for instance, there is room for many trees, whereas in the traditional African city trees are scarce. In Michenzani, sheltered areas in the open space for drinking tea and coffee replace the narrow traditional benches, or barazas,2 that line the houses in Ng’ambo and Stone Town, the two main neighbourhoods in Zanzibar City.3 Nor do the Trains allow room for duka’s: shops or workshops in the plinths of buildings, as is often

1.  Interview by the author with Prof. Abdul Sheriff, Fall 2012.

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2.  A baraza is a bench or a covered space between private and public areas. 3.  See: Anna Cornelis, An Episode of Modernist Planning Abroad. The Case Study of Michenzani, Zanzibar (Master’s Thesis, Catholic University of Leuven, 2008).


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Michenzani today (source: M. Woestenburg / A. Denissen / A.C. van Buiten)

the case in traditional Swahili houses.4 Instead, in Michenzani, the green verges of the roads have developed into commercial areas, containing everything from vending stalls for soft drinks, air time and finger food to large displays of luxurious settees. The layout of the apartments in the Trains is nothing like that of the traditional Swahilli houses of Ng’ambo. A Swahili house consists of a public area (the baraza) on the street side, a central corridor with private rooms to the left and right, leading to a private courtyard (the ua) with the kitchen and bathing facilities. The arrangement follows the strict gender division within the family, with the baraza for the men and the ua for the women. It seems impossible to accommodate the traditional gender division in the new apartments of Michenzani. Female activities such as cooking and washing 4.  With the exception of block no.10, realized only recently under President Amani Abeid Karume.

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that take place in the inner courtyard of a Swahili house can hardly be fit on the tiny balconies that are not even adjacent to the likewise small kitchens. This disruption with tradition does not, however, seem to have caused a rejection by the inhabitants of the Trains. Life has adapted to this new form of housing, and the buildings, in turn, have been adapted to accommodate Swahili living patterns. Partitions have been removed to increase shared space, curtains inserted to enhance privacy and in the absence of elevators, buckets are used to hoist groceries to the upperfloor balconies. Michenzani has been accepted as part of the city and living reality, which in the end doesn’t differ that much from the traditional life in Stone Town and Ng’ambo in the days before Abeid Karume, then the president of Zanzibar, initiated his New Town in 1964.

KARUME AND THE REVOLUTION The history of Zanzibar New Town is completely entwined with the independency of Zanzibar, which started on 12 December 1963. The British colonial power had prepared the country by modernizing the government, installing a parliament and putting the old Arab-Indian elite back on the throne, headed by an heir of a well-respected sultan from the late nineteenth century.5 However, the Arab control over the island alienated the African majority of the population and after just one month, on 12 January 1964, totally unexpected, a revolution broke out, headed by self-proclaimed Field Marshall John Okello.6 Some 5,000 (mostly Arab) people were massacred.7 A new single-party revolutionary government was formed by the Afro Shirazi Party (ASP), with Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume (1905-1972) as its president.8 Karume was a different character than Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana, or Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika. He was born in 1905 to poor parents, enjoyed little education and became a sailor, which provided him with the opportunity to broaden his horizons. From the 1930s onward, he became active in politics. In 1943 he left the sea to become a fulltime politician and eventually made it to chairman of the ASP. 5.  The name of the Sultan was Seyyid Jamshid bin Abdullah; he was the great-grandson of the mighty Sultan Seyyid Bargash, the last sultan that maintained independence against growing British Imperialism in the late nineteenth century. 6.  Not a little reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief (1932), a book about the intrigues on the African island of Azania.

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7.  The number is a guess by Petterson. See: Don Petterson, Revolution in Zanzibar: An American’s Cold War Tale (Boulder: Westview, 2002). The sultan and his retinue managed to flee the island and lived out their lives in exile on a British pension. 8.  The ASP cadres did not appreciate the Ugandan Okello’s Christian God-inspired ideas, and as soon as they felt strong enough they removed him from power.


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Karume was well liked by the African population, as he was one of them, spoke their language and made efforts to help the poor. He is still respectfully remembered as Mzee Karume, meaning Old Man Karume in Swahili.9 At the same time, he was a strongwilled person who developed despotic traits later in his reign. Frank Carlucci, the former US Consul in Zanzibar, described Karume as ‘a rough-hewn, strong-minded, stubborn – but forthright – politician, who is bluntly tough about his power . . . a poorly educated man who nonetheless inspires great confidence among the Africans, he is effective in a ponderous way.’10 The first tumultuous months after the Revolution of 1964 laid the basis for Zanzibar New Town as well as for the new country of Tanzania. Tanganyika, the mainland adjacent to the island of Zanzibar, had gained its independence on 9 December 1961 in a much smoother process. With charismatic president Julius Kamberage Nyerere (1922-1999) at its helm, Tanganyika became a shining example for the East African region. Nyerere’s party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) was closely connected to the ASP, and he was an example for Karume to follow. Three months after the Revolution started, Karume went to see Nyerere and within a matter of days they decided to join Tanganyika and Zanzibar. They quickly had a constitution drafted and on 26 April 1964 the Union of Tanzania became a fact.11 The united nation, installing Nyerere as president and Karume as vice-president, seems to have been constructed mostly for pragmatic reasons. One of these is thought to be Karume’s concern about the vulnerability of the small archipelago, consisting of only two main islands, Zanzibar (also named Unguja) and Pemba, and a number of small islets.12 In fact there were several threats, one from the communist and the other from the capitalist side: the extremist

Portrait Karume (source: A. Cornelis)

9.  Mzee (plural Wazee), meaning ‘old man’. 10.  Petterson, Revolution in Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 8), 381. 11.  The name Tanzania is an acronymic composition of Tan(ganyika) and Zan(zibar). 12.  The island of Unguja is popularly called Zanzibar, and so is the capital city of Zanzibar. To avoid confusion the city is further referred to as Zanzibar Town and the island as Unguja.

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Maoist faction within the ASP wanted to take control of Zanzibar, while an American intervention and reinstatement of the Sultanate was also a possibility. Whatever the case, from the start neither Karume nor Nyerere was completely happy with the Union. Nyerere has been recorded to sigh: ‘If I could tow that island out into the middle of the Indian Ocean, I would do it.’13 Karume, in turn, stated that Nyerere’s famous Arusha Declaration (1967), in which a national policy founded on the principles of African Socialism was introduced, stops at Chumbe, the lighthouse signalling Zanzibar port.14 In effect, both ‘nations’ – the mainland and the archipelago – have kept their own identity and culture in an independent way up to today, proving this pragmatic ‘African Alternative’15 to be successful.16 In fact, mainland Tanganyika and the Zanzibar archipelago can be characterized as two opposites, defined by their very different natures, histories and cultures. Likewise, the two massive New Town projects – Dodoma on the mainland and Zanzibar New Town on Unguja – are as different as the physical expressions of independence. The mainland largely consisted of rural plains, scarcely populated by a rural population dependent on subsistence farming. The Zanzibar archipelago, especially the main island Unguja, was its densely populated and urbanized counterpart. Thanks to its strategic location on the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar Town had, over the centuries, grown into a cosmopolitan port city, colonized and influenced successively by the Persians, the Portuguese, the Omani and the British. As a result it was exposed to a wide variety of cultures, economies and lifestyles. In line with this contrast between two separate ‘countries’, as well as the natural difference between the two politicians, Karume’s ideas for Zanzibar differed considerably from those declared by Nyerere in his Arusha Declaration. Both Karume and Nyerere envisioned a new, modern society based on the principles of social equality, self-reliance and the improvement of the living conditions of the population. Karume’s ideas, however, stand in contrast to the Ujamaa (meaning ‘familyhood’) society president Julius Nyerere envisioned. Although both openly favoured communism as the most responsible way to rebuild their nation, Nyerere’s Ujamaa foresaw a complete reorganization of Tanzania following a rural, socialist reform. Karume’s ideas for Zanzibar New Town had nothing to do with rural principles. Whereas Nyerere envisioned the founding of a new capital city in the form of a selfreliant, rural settlement in the middle of the country, Karume projected a high-density, 13.  Maalim in: Chris Maina Peter and Maroub Othman (eds.), Zanzibar and the Union Question (Zanzibar: Zanzibar Legal Services Centre Publication Series Book no. 4, 2006), 127. 14.  Garth A. Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo; Town Planning and Development on the Other Side of Zanzibar (PhD Thesis, University of California, Los Angeles, 1993), 340.

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15.  ‘The best way of averting it (a Cuba-like situation evolving), short of direct intervention a la Playa Giron (although this thought of and preparations made), was to try an ‘African alternative’. And it worked.’ Haroub Othman in: Peter and Othman, Zanzibar and the Union Question, op. cit. (note 14), 50. 16.  Not satisfied, even after three decades, with their joint commitment, in 2012 a Government Commission was appointed to review the Union.


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unified and inclusive New Town that broke with the past, replacing historical Stone Town. By doing so, he not only envisaged a new socialist city, but also wanted to undo the racial split between the two parts of the city – the historical city and Ng’ambo, the ‘other side’ of Stone Town.

ZANZIBAR ON THE COLD WAR FRONTIER The founding of Zanzibar New Town was one of Karume’s first major decisions after seizing power. On 8 March 1964, less than two months after the Revolution in Zanzibar had started, Karume held an important speech to the population, in which he unfolded his first ideas for Zanzibar New Town. These encompassed an entire modern city, possibly resembling the modern American cities he visited during his travels as a sailor. It would be a city offering all modern comforts and amenities through the application of cutting-edge technology and modernist planning. There were hardly any architects or planners on the island to design his New Town, however, and he had to turn to the new friends of independent Zanzibar for help: China, the USSR, Cuba and East Germany (GDR). It would be the GDR-planners in particular who seized the chance to realize a tropical socialist utopia. The GDR was the first country to recognize the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. China, the USSR and other communist countries followed quickly, but the Western world was hesitant. It feared the increasing influence of the communist faction in the ASP and perhaps still hoped for a turn-around and the reinstatement of the good old Sultanate. Rumours that Cuban fighters had landed on the island were persistent, although these later turned out to be light-skinned Zanzibari in Che Guevara outfits. Having a communist government on Zanzibar, with its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, was considered a severe problem by the Western camp. Times were uncertain in Africa, with imminent clashes in the Congo, Egypt and other countries in the slipstream of the Cold War controversies. There was a lot happening, new balances were being sought, and as John F. Kennedy stated in 1962:

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What we do – or fail to do – in Africa in the next year or two will have a profound effect for many years. We see Africa as probably the greatest open field of maneuver in the worldwide competition between the Communist bloc and the non-Communist world. 17

Notwithstanding the above, the West, including the USA, remained lethargic towards the developments on Zanzibar for a long time, and the communists made good use of the Western inactiveness. Former US Consul Petterson argues in his noteworthy book Revolution in Zanzibar: An American’s Cold War Tale:

The Soviets, Chinese and East Germans viewed Zanzibar as a unique possibility for showing the world, the Third World in particular, the advantages and blessings of the application of scientific socialism. They believed that because of its small size and its population of only a few hundred thousand, Zanzibar could be transformed with relatively small outlay of resources. Zanzibar would be a model whose success would attract others into the socialist camp. 18

The East Germans were the most avid and active, as they saw a chance to export their ideology and pride. As we will see later, Karume favoured the pragmatic Chinese over the moralistic East Germans.19 Until their intervention in Zanzibar, the GDR had had very little success in presenting itself beyond the communist world. The so-called Hallstein Doctrine,

17.  Petterson, Revolution in Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 8), 128.

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18.  Ibid.,166. 19.  Karume preferred the Chinese as they were a Third World Country and he liked the Chinese simplicity and work ethic.


Guillain Map, 1846 (source: AAMatters)

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stipulated by West Germany (FRG), forbid diplomatic connections with any country that recognized the GDR, with the exception of the USSR.20 The FRG, which by far exceeded the GDR in size, economy and power, and was therefore a more interesting partner than the GDR for any nation that was not part of the communist bloc, thus prevented the GDR to spread its wings. However, West Germany was hesitant to recognize the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and the GDR took its chance and opened an embassy on the island.

STONE TOWN AND THE OTHER SIDE For Karume, building a New Town was by far the most prominent project to symbolize his communist reform policy in a direct and visual way. Land and housing issues played an essential role in the new government policy, with a focus on the provision of homes for the people in Zanzibar Town. Of the seven points he stipulated in his 1964 Manifesto for ASP Government Policies,21 at least five had spatial implications. Characteristic of Zanzibar New Town is that Karume deliberately opted for his town to replace the existing city instead of building it on an open site. Moreover, Karume’s new city not only comprised the formal and historical city of Stone Town, but included the informal and long neglected ‘other side’ of Stone Town, locally known as Ng’ambo. This part of the city, separated from Stone Town by a creek, had been the settlement for the African population (as opposed to the European and Asian population) from the end of the nineteenth century onward. By the time Karume unfolded his New Town plans, Ng’ambo counted some 50,000 inhabitants, three times more than historical Stone Town. The city that Karume inherited was not only old, but also complicated. The history of Stone Town reaches back to before the Portuguese occupation in the sixteenth century. Its rich history created a cosmopolitan city with narrow streets lined with high buildings, rich merchants’ houses, palaces, mosques, emporiums and schools. The lofty whitewashed buildings with their finely carved doors have earned Stone Town its place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.22

20.  Hallstein Doctrine, the FRG policy towards the GDR from 1955 to 1972, named after German politician Walter Hallstein.

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21.  Karume’s ASP Government policies were laid down in 1964 in a manifesto that stipulated: (1) The government takeover of all land for the benefit of the people; (2) The removal of exploitation by abolishing land taxes and making pawnshops illegal; (3) The control of the economy by the state; (4) The introduction of free education and free medical facilities; (5) The allotment of three acres of land to every farmer; (6) The provision of homes for orphans and modern houses for the elderly; (7) The construction of better houses for farmers and workers. Source: Sten-Åke Nilsson et al., Tanzania – Zanzibar. Present Conditions and Future Plans (Lund: University of Lund, undated [1969]), 6. 22.  Folkers, 67-68.


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Stone Town particularly gained importance during the rule of the Sultan of Oman on Zanzibar in the 1820s. The city quickly outgrew the small triangular peninsula and continued its expansion on the other side of the tidal creek that divided the peninsula from the main part of the island. On the first known map of Zanzibar Town of 1846, drawn by the French Captain Guillain, Ng’ambo is already expanding in a fashion not dissimilar to the way Stone Town had developed. This development was frustrated after the establishment of the British Protectorate in 1891, when Stone Town became the residential area for Europeans and Asians, whereas Ng’ambo was left to the poorer African population. Over the years, several master plans were drafted, mostly by British architects. The first master plan for Stone Town by Henry Vaughan Lanchester formalized the division between Ng’ambo and Stone Town. The latter was supplied with modern infrastructure and amenities, whereas the plans for Ng’ambo did not exceed an overall road system and a proposal for a generic native hut to improve the living conditions of the African population. Lanchester could not get a grip on Ng’ambo, because of its complex urban fabric and landownership, and the lack of detailed surveys. The area consisted of a great number of mitaa,23 neighbourhoods with a strong cultural and religious identity that resisted regularization. Understanding the mitaa-structure would prove to be the crux to success in the planning and development of Ng’ambo over time. Later plans tried to rebuild the entire area, for instance by erasing the informal settlements (Plan by Eric Dutton, 1943), or by the insertion of throughways (Plan Kendall-Mill, 1958). In essence, these plans had little positive impact on the living conditions of Ng’ambo. Thus the creek, dividing the two towns, classes and races, continued to act as a cordon sanitaire during the colonial period and beyond. Of the subsequent attempts by the colonial administration to rebuild Ng’ambo, only the construction of the Raha Leo Civic Centre would have a strong and lasting influence.24 Raha Leo was planned as the core piece of Eric Dutton’s resettlement scheme for Ng’ambo (1943-1948). Dutton wanted to rebuild the area, turning it into a modern African Garden City. This was never realized: only the Holmwood neighbourhood (a tiny English-Swahili cottage village) was realized according to Dutton’s plans. But in 1948 the Raha Leo Civic Centre opened its doors, comprising a library and hall, a committee room, a Government Information Officer’s quarter and the studio of the

23.  A Mtaa is a neighbourhood, the plural is Mitaa. 24.  Raha Leo means ‘rejoice today’.

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‘Voice of Zanzibar’, the Protectorate’s broadcasting service. On the adjacent grounds a women’s clinic, the Town Mudir’s Court and offices, a children’s playground and a girls’ school were built.25 It was a true centre of the latecolonial civilization mission in the middle of Ng’ambo. The radio studio was immediately appropriated by Okello at the Raha Leo (source: ZNZ Guide) start of the Revolution and made a crucial contribution to the victory of the rebels. Karume would confirm the position of Raha Leo as antipole of the Beit el Ajab palace, the ‘House of Wonders’, in Stone Town in his plans for New Town Zanzibar.26 Raha Leo has now lost its communal functions.

PLANNING ZANZIBAR NEW TOWN Most British and a lot of Asian citizens left Zanzibar after the first bloody days of the Revolution. The country had a shortage of white collar workers due to their departure. Karume was in dire need of foreign help to assist him in the realization of new Zanzibar, and he was not picky. The Chinese built the new Amaani Stadium and started a large-scale rice-planting scheme; the Russians provided military training, weapons and doctors, the Americans and Cubans built schools; and the Italians and Swedes planned low-cost housing. Last but not least, the East Germans were welcomed to assist in the realization of Karume’s New Town scheme. East German architects, project managers and builders came to Zanzibar. Within five years they planned and realized a number of housing schemes and drafted a master plan for the city. One of the first GDR architects in service of Karume’s New Town development was Hans Willumat. It was he who convinced Karume to concentrate his projects on Ng’ambo and not to interfere with historical Stone Town.27 Consequently, Stone Town was ignored and neglected during Karume’s reign, although he never really gave up the idea of replacing it.

25.  A Mudir is a traditional governor.

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26.  Beit el Ajab means ‘House of Wonders’. This remarkable palace was built by Sultan Bargash and received its name because of the fact that it was the first building on Zanzibar with electricity and a lift. 27.  Ludger Wimmelbücker, 415-416.


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Prior to the master plan for Zanzibar, Karume undertook several projects at set locations spread across Ng’ambo, which was to become his new city. Starting as early as 1965, two housing schemes with in total 570 dwellings were developed with the help of the GDR in Kikwajuni and Kilimani. These were newly established neighbourhoods on greenfield sites. The three-storey Kikwajuni neighbourhood was planned and executed entirely by the GDR, as an answer to the low-cost housing realized in Dar es Salaam with the support of the FRG. For Karume, the Ein Familien Häuser (freestanding singlefamily units) in Dar es Salaam were a translation of the Swahili house, confirming the backwardness of African living. Instead, he ordered the new housing complexes on Zanzibar to be modern multi-storey apartment buildings.28 The Kikwajuni housing typology was further developed in Kilimani and formed the blueprint for all state initiated housing schemes in the 1960s and 1970s. During the same period, the new ASP headquarters, the Amaani Stadium, Bwawani Recreation Centre and the Sebleni Old People’s Home were built in Ng’ambo; all of them modern symbols of the new Zanzibar. These can all be seen as pilot projects for the grand scheme that Karume had in mind. In addition, besides telephone communication and radio propaganda, Karume installed the first Sub-Saharan African colour television station in the former Municipal Hall on Creek Road.29 Being a ‘creative, enthralling and powerful orator’, he believed strongly in modern communication systems.30 In 1966, out of need to coordinate the various schemes and projects, Karume applied to the GDR government for assistance in drafting a new Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme. The GDR in its turn employed architect and town planner Hubert Scholz (born 1932) to execute this task in 1967. Scholz received his training as an architect and urban planner in East Germany, at the former Bauhaus, which continued after the war as ‘Hochschule für Architektur und Bauwesen Weimar’.31 The director of the school at that time was the charismatic Hermann Henselmann. Henselmann had also been supervisor of the redevelopment of the city centre of East-Berlin in the 1950s, and was responsible for the monumental layout of the Karl Marx Allee, which can be seen as an inspiration for Michenzani. Scholz would stay in Zanzibar for three years, until the Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme was complete and delivered on 30 September 1968.32

28.  Ibid., 417-418. 29.  Karume’s ideas differed completely from those of Nyerere, who did not want television on the mainland until the citizens were able to afford a TV-set and connection (hearsay, but true in the author’s opinion). 30.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 366. 31.  Most information in this chapter on Scholz’s involvement in the Zanzibar New Town development was acquired during interviews held by author in Berlin on 15 November 2011 and 10 February 2012. 32.  After his return to Berlin, Scholtz became secretary of the GDR Association of Architects until his early retirement due to the Wende in 1989. He never went back to Zanzibar.

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Scholz and his team in 1967 (source: H. Scholz)

He worked in the Town Planning Department in Stone Town, together with the local team of planners, architects and surveyors, headed by town planner Abdul Wahab Allawi. Allawi, along with a few colleagues, formed the Zanzibari core of the Town Planning Department from the 1960s to the 1980s. Another important member of the team was land surveyor Muhamad Salim Sulaiman, who was responsible for setting out the projects that formed part of Karume’s New Town.33 Besides the comprehensive planning scheme for Zanzibar New Town, Scholz designed (on Karume’s request) the three ‘satellite towns’ Chaani and Machui on Unguja and Micheweni on Pemba, the northernmost island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Each town was designed for 10,000 people and was meant to boost development of the rural areas. The idea of satellite villages was not new, in fact it was part of a proposal by town planner Kendall some years earlier (1958) in his Town Planning Scheme for Zanzibar. Kendall suggested concentric villages, reminiscent of Ebenezer Howard’s nineteenth581

33.  Most information in this chapter on Sulaiman’s involvement in the Zanzibar New Town development was acquired during an interview held by author in Zanzibar on 17 October 2011.


Machui model (source: H. Scholz)

Model Village Fry & Drew (source: ’Village Housing’, Fry Drew)

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century Garden City. This time, however, the layouts were orthogonal and rather similar to the models proposed by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew in their work on Ghanese villages in the 1940s.34 Scholz started his work on the master plan in 1967 with a survey of Zanzibar Town and environs.35 He stated that to execute such a survey was of great importance and that such work had not been carried out in the preceding schemes. Scholz was surprised that when he came to Zanzibar he was unable to find any survey material from the past. It is at the very least strange that Scholz was not acquainted with the detailed survey that Eric Dutton had produced for his plan to rebuild Ng’ambo. This Ng’ambo Folder, in turn, was based on the extensive aerial surveys of the 1930s and later. For reasons that remain unclear, Scholz had no knowledge of this material. Scholz’s Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme, published in 1968, opens as follows: ‘It is the ardent desire of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to give the people of Zanzibar Town an improvement in the standard of living condition.’36 This sentence sets the tone; the predominant aim of the Town Planning Scheme is to provide housing for the poor. This was in clear distinction to the previous schemes, which had made almost no effort to improve the living conditions of the ‘African People’, according to Scholz. In his survey of Ng’ambo, he identified the condition of the houses as being bad.37 He suggested that ‘by consideration of all the different aspects of proposals contained in this scheme it will be possible to develop Zanzibar Town step by step to a modern town’.38 This aim reflects Karume’s ambition, as he had expressed it in 1964. According to Scholz’s 1968 Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme, the whole of Ng’ambo would be subject to

34.  Jane B. Drew, E. Maxwell Fry and Harry L. Ford, Village Housing in the Tropics. With Special Reference to West Africa (London: Lund Humphries, 1953). 35.  Plans: (I) Existing land use; (II) Road system; (III) Education for Zanzibar Town and environs; (IV) Road system; (V) Water supply; (VI) Drainage system; (VII) Electrical supply; (VIII) Telephone supply; (IX) Public engineering service; (X) Public toilets; (XI) Public buildings; (XII) Open spaces and graveyards; (XIII) Administrative boundaries. 36.  Hubert Scholz, Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme 1968 (Zanzibar: Zanzibar Government, 1968), 1.

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37.  Ibid., 2. 38.  Ibid., 4.


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replacement.39 The master plan encompasses a written summary, survey maps, drawings and a model.40 It was designed for 110,000 inhabitants41 and included modern types of housing and public buildings with modern amenities such as water and electricity; the construction of a new road system; a new sewer system for both storm water and liquid and solid waste; new schools in all residential areas and the concentration of all factories on one or two industrial sites.42 The plan ignores Stone Town and proposes a new social infrastructure for Ng’ambo consisting of a new main town centre, three ‘major civic centres A’ and four ‘minor civic centres B’ catering to 10,000 inhabitants, who would be lodged within a 800-m radius or within 10-minute’s walking distance of the civic centre. For the infrastructural organization of the new town, Scholz proposed a road system of four radial43 and six concentric main roads44 that would rationalize the existing road network. All of these roads were designed as double carriageways with a total width of 100 feet (30 m). Adjacent to the four radial access roads, a central spine was projected, designed as the new civic axis for Zanzibar Town. This ‘Ng’ambo Centre Road’ (now called Karume Road) would connect the television station at the edge of Stone Town via the political ASP headquarters to Civic Centre Raha Leo.45 This central axis was designed as a ceremonial route, starting and ending with monuments, one in front of the ASP headquarters and one in front of the existing Uhuru market. This central axis would then continue, not as a road but as a greenbelt from Stone Town to the town boundary. Two other green fingers, one along the northern shore of Funguni Creek and one along the botanical gardens and golf course on the southern shore were to connect the city with the countryside. As far as new housing was concerned, Scholz distinctly divided his plan into apartment blocks (between the Creek Road and the outer concentric road) and low-rise

39.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 365: ‘Ng’ambo was seen as an ovyo wasteland of racist and imperialist underdevelopment, and had to become the shining example of socialism’, and (page 359) the rebuilding was to provide ‘the workers [with] better living conditions and [save] them from living in lousy huts – the poor state in which the colonialists left us’. 40.  Thirteen survey maps (I-XIII) and five layout schemes (XIV-XVIII). 41.  According to Scholz there were 68,000 inhabitants in 1968, see: Scholz, Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme, op. cit. (note 37). 42.  These were laid out in five master plan schemes: (XIV) TP-20-68 Land Use Plan 1:10,000; (XV) TP- 21-68 road system 1:10,000; (XVI) TP-22-68 public civic centres 1:10,000; (XVII) TP-23-68 1:10,000 proposed site for schools; and (XVIII) TP-24-68 1:10,000 plan for the first phase of development. 43.  (1) The existing road to the north along the shore; (2) The existing but straightened and widened road to Amaani and Chwaka; (3) The existing but straightened road to Makunduchi (never realized); (4) Existing road along the shore to the airport and Fumba. 44.  (1) The existing Creek Road at Mnazi Mmoja between Stone Town and Ng’ambo; (2) Michenzani Central Road B; (3) The existing but widened Felix Moumie Road; (4) Ring Road A; and (5) Ring Road B have only been partially executed; (6) The outer ring road was completed in 2009. 45.  Scholz, Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme, op. cit. (note 37), 15.

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Alam a Kilimani housing (source: Capital Art Studio)

terraced and freestanding houses around the perimeter. According to the Revolutionary Government’s policy, ‘the construction of modern blocks of flats like those of Kikwajuni and Kilimani’ was important. Scholz concentrated these in the western part of Ng’ambo, known as Michenzani.46 However, whereas the Kilimani and Kikwajuni blocks counted a maximum of three storeys, those in Michenzani were given six to eight storeys. Scholz was aware of the fact that the redevelopment of Ng’ambo would be relatively costly, and in order to achieve larger quantities of low-cost housing he initially proposed ‘permanent low houses’ on the outskirts. Karume, however, rejected the low-rise housing and commissioned apartment blocks instead. The rigorous Michenzani housing project would become the centrepiece of Karume’s New Town.

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46.  Ibid., 23. By Ng’ambo, Scholz means Michenzani.


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MICHENZANI, A CENTRE FOR ZANZIBAR NEW TOWN The monumental Michenzani area was the crown on Karume’s New Town, acting as the new city centre.47 The highest apartment buildings in Zanzibar, four to five storeys tall, were to be built in this area with some even taller public buildings as landmarks in front of them. These public buildings would house government offices, a central post office, a cinema, a polyclinic, the main mosque, a library, a supermarket, shops and restaurants. Together they would form the new centre of Zanzibar New Town.48 The similarity between Scholz’s projected new centre and the area around the Karl Marx Allee49 in Berlin is striking: its position in relation to the city centre, the width of the double carriage roads, the intersection with the monumental fountain, and the freestanding public buildings against a backdrop of residential blocks. Scholz denies, however, having been inspired by the Karl Marx Allee. Perhaps this time the inspiration came from the clients’ side. Karume’s wife, who had a lot of influence on him, made a state visit to Berlin in 1967, which may have reinforced the design idea for the centre of Zanzibar New Town. Scholz was not in favour of such a monumental intervention in the heart of Ng’ambo, and even less happy with Karume’s desire to build six- or even eight-storey apartment slabs along the central roads. In retrospect, Scholz now characterizes Karume’s design ideas as Groβmannsucht (megalomaniac). He did try to convince Karume to restrict the height to three or perhaps four storeys, as higher would also entail the introduction of lifts. Scholz argued that the step to large-scale high-rise housing schemes was, for the time being, too big to take for the Zanzibari used to traditional Swahili houses. But that may in fact have been the reason behind Karume’s stubbornness: he wanted to show the world what Revolutionary Zanzibar was able to achieve. Sulaiman, voicing his and Allawi’s unease with Karume’s directives to divert from the GDR scheme, suggests that Karume wanted to impress the world, and in particular Nyerere, and therefore opted for a monumental scale for Michenzani, rather than the more modest proposals made by Scholz. Karume is supposed to have exclaimed:

‘If the Americans build skyscrapers, I will build groundscrapers.’ 47.  Ibid., 14. 48.  Ibid., 13. 49.  Previously called Stalin Allee.

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Alam a Karl Marx Allee Berlin (source: Schmidt Wolfgang FW fotocommunity.de)

In this light, Abeid Amani Karume and not Hubert Scholz should be considered the main architect of Michenzani and Zanzibar New Town. Karume’s personal involvement in the production of the 1968 Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme and the consecutive designs of the different projects in Zanzibar New Town cannot be ignored. Scholz refers frequently to his meetings with Karume and Karume’s strong position and decisive influence on the development of Zanzibar New Town. In his introduction to the 1968 Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme, Scholz states his thankfulness to ‘the First Vice President, Hon. Abeid Amani Karume, who himself has personally approved the Scheme at its various stages of preparation and who has given his precious references [author’s italics] to this Town Planning Scheme.’50 The reference that immediately springs to mind is the Karl Marx Allee in Berlin, but there may have been others.

BUILDING ZANZIBAR NEW TOWN After Scholz returned to the GDR, Karume started the work on Michenzani in earnest: ‘In January 1969 . . . people with their bare hands on a self-help basis cleared a way through N’gambo to give place for the new central road.’51 Construction of the ‘Trains’, as the Zanzibari soon started to call them, would soon follow, but this time partly making use of prison labour and others who Karume labelled ‘idlers’ and pressed into service.52 Karume followed the road layout of Scholz’s design quite closely,53 but discarded the strip with the public centre and lined the streets with 300-m-long, sixstorey apartment buildings instead of the loosely arranged, much more modest slabs proposed by Scholz. The Trains on the western branch of Central Road A are even eight storeys high: the ground is lower here and Karume wished to keep the roofs of all the Trains at the same level. 50.  Scholz, Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme, op. cit. (note 37), 4. 51.  Nilsson, Tanzania – Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 22), 20.

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52.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 369. 53.  The old graveyard in Mtaa Miembeni may have caused the slight diversion to the east in the alignment of Central Road B.


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Simultaneously, the replacement of housing and further development of the 1968 Town Planning Scheme commenced. One of the schemes concerned Miembeni, the area just south of Michenzani, bordering Kikwajuni. The redevelopment of this neighbourhood was planned by Swedish experts: Sten-Åke Nilsson and Bo Lilje with their students of Lund University.54 For Miembeni, Nilsson and his students designed four alternative plans for the redevelopment of 385 houses.55 In addition, there were plans to convert the playing fields in Miembeni, the Mao Tse Tung Stadium and the adjoining graveyard into public areas, with ample playgrounds, schools and a neighbourhood centre consisting of an ASP branch office, a state shop, a market and a mosque. Although there were East German experts present for a while after Scholz’s departure in 1968, the involvement of the GDR in the urban development of Zanzibar proved to be short-lived.56 The timespan may have been short (1964 to 1968), but its influence on the development of Karume’s New Town was considerable. The 1968 Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme formed the basis of multiple development projects up to the 1980s and beyond. In addition, the housing typologies developed in Kikwajuni, Kilimani and Michenzani served as models for the extensions of the towns of Bambi, Wete, Chake Chake and Mkoani on Unguja and Pemba. When Karume died in 1972, only six Trains were under construction or had been completed, but the work did not come to a standstill. Under Karume’s successor Aboud Jumbe (1972-1984), two additional Trains were realized. In President Amin Samour’s time (1990-2000) another was built, and finally Amani Karume (2000-2010), Abeid Karume’s son, finished the tenth in 2008, almost 40 years after the start of the project. It now looks like the Michenzani project is done and it doesn’t seem likely that there will be similar buildings constructed in other areas of Ng’ambo, but who knows? Besides the Trains, other parts the New Town were realized after Karume’s death by his successors. Two striking projects that reveal Karume’s true ambitions to build a comprehensive, modern and emancipated society are the children’s funfair on the site of the former Uhuru market and the Bwawani recreation grounds with a hotel, sports facilities, swimming pools, discotheque and rowing lake.57 These projects, planned as loose and independent elements, were erected with foreign planning assistance: 54.  Nilsson, Tanzania – Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 22), 34: ‘Our work in Zanzibar is to try to help with the new town-planning scheme. We have chosen Miembeni area of Ng’ambo.’ 55.  Two plans replace the whole neighbourhood with three-storey apartment blocks; one with two-storey terraced houses; the fourth envisages the phased renovation of the existing houses. 56.  Wimmelbücker, op. cit. (note 28), 427-428. The GDR architects Wettstein and Brombach continued to assist in Karume’s New Town, but in a more reduced rule. 57.  Bwawani was supposed to take over the role of Raha Leo as recreation centre. Raha Leo had meanwhile become a protected government area with the broadcasting station, not open to the public.

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Nillson design (source: Nillson pp 76)

the Bwawani complex was designed by Norwegian architect Nostviq and unknown architects from Eindhoven, the Netherlands,58 the Uhuru Funfair was built with Chinese aid. After the completion of these projects, the development pace slowed down considerably, as the state coffers were empty and the enthusiasm for the Revolution had diminished. Under President Jumbe, Karume’s successor, an Italian planning team was hired in 1977 to update the 1968 Town Planning Scheme, but it only managed to design the neighbourhoods Mwanakwerekwe A and B for approximately 1,000 low-density plots.59 All in all, little came of planned interventions in the (re)development of Ng’ambo’s neighbourhoods. As before, Ng’ambo continued to take care of itself.

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58.  According to Sulaiman. 59.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 407.


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In 1982, the Zanzibar Government under Jumbe contracted Chinese town planners Gu Yu Chang and Qian Kequan to work on an update of the Town Planning Scheme for Ng’ambo, as the city was bursting at the seams. By 1982 the city counted about 200,000 inhabitants, almost twice as many as Scholz had envisioned in his master plan. Again, just as Karume had done, Chang and Kequan excluded Stone Town in their master plan, this time because the city had been ‘discovered’ by international conservationists and had become subject to a number of serious conservation and restoration schemes. This led, in 2000, to Stone Town’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Chinese reorganized Ng’ambo into 51 neighbourhood units, a new government administration area and a new town centre on the ring road.60 Remarkably, this rearrangement of the city into neighbourhood units followed the Arusha Declaration of 1967 in the sense that the neighbourhoods are based on the 10-cell unit. Presumably, the Chinese planners were already acquainted with the Arusha Declaration principles, as their country maintained close ties with Tanzania. These ties had, for instance, led to the development of the TAZARA, de Tanzania-Zambia Railway, built (and paid for) by the Chinese between 1970 and 1975. It is therefore not a surprise that the first name on the list of people consulted for the master plan was not Zanzibar’s Aboud Jumbe, but President Nyerere. Garth Andrew Myers, an eminent American researcher of Zanzibari urban history, states that this moment was the first time in Zanzibar’s history that mainland policies (that is, Nyerere’s CCM party) were given priority in Zanzibar Town.61 The 1982 Chiang-Kequan master plan breaks with Zanzibar’s previous master plans, especially those by Scholz and Kendall, which were built on modernist neighbourhood units meant for 6,000 to 10,000 inhabitants each. Chiang-Kequan reduced the neighbourhood units to some 2,000 inhabitants, thereby relating them to the size of the Mitaa,62 the traditional communities of Zanzibar Town. Since 1982, no new master plan has been drafted for Zanzibar Town, though in the last 30 years the city has grown from 150,000 to over 400,000 inhabitants. This void in planning has recently been acknowledged by the Government of Zanzibar and in 2012 a tender was drafted to produce a new Town Planning Scheme.63

60.  Ibid., 404: ‘The 1982 Zanzibar Town Master Plan is by far the most thoroughly researched and richly detailed planning treatment the city as a whole has ever received.’ 61.  Ibid., 414. 62.  The Zanzibar Mtaa (plural Mitaa) is a neighbourhood with 1,500 to 2,000 people bound by cultural ties and feudal landowning organization. 63.  Tender Government of Zanzibar supported by the Worldbank (January 2012): Diagrammatic Indicative Structure Plan for Zanzibar Municipality and Its Immediate Periphery and Urban Development Policy for Zanzibar Town.

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The rebuilding project of Ng’ambo, a series of top-down attempts by both colonial and postcolonial administrations, was never completed, and it’s doubtful that it ever will be. However, notwithstanding the resilience of Ng’ambo’s existing urban fabric, Karume’s interventions go beyond a mere attempt to change Ng’ambo and will stand as proof for many years to come of the strong idea for the New Town of Zanzibar.

CONCLUSION 1 WHY WAS ZANZIBAR NEW TOWN BUILT: WAS THE GOAL EMANCIPATION OR SUPPRESSION? A New Town model such as the one built for Zanzibar Town is quite rare, in the sense that it was not developed on a clean slate, but superimposed on an already existing fabric. It therefore could be described as an ‘in situ replacement model’. Such exceptional models are well-known in post-war cities like (East-)Berlin, which was almost obliterated by bombing.64 In these situations the projected New Town provides a chance to completely rebuild the city without a lot of resistance from the existing fabric and inhabitants. But Zanzibar’s Ng’ambo is obviously not a post-war city that suffered a trauma; on the contrary, the New Town was meant to replace a lively and relatively wellfunctioning living system. From consecutive surveys over time it appears that the majority of Ng’ambo’s houses were not slums, but of more than decent standard. Besides, the overall atmosphere of Ng’ambo was seldom described as filthy, dangerous or unattractive: Ng’ambo ‘is by no means at all a slum, being dotted with excellent houses which can earn the pride of proprietorship that is felt by their owners,’ the Zanzibar 1961 tourist guide proudly told the visitors of the island.65 Zanzibari town planner Allawi concluded in his 1965 survey that about 80 per cent of the building stock in Michenzani was in sound condition.66 Land surveyor Sulaiman states that it is wrong to characterize the houses in Ng’ambo of

64.  An interesting parallel is the reconstruction of the Quang Tring complex in Vinh City in Vietnam by GDR planners and architects starting in 1973. Vinh City was almost completely destroyed by US bombing raids. See: Christina Schwenkel, ‘Socialist Ruins and Urban Renewal in Central Vietnam’, East Asia Cultures Critique, vol. 20 (2012) no. 2, 437-470. 65.  Zanzibar Tourist Information Bureau, A Guide to Zanzibar (London: The Crown Agencies for the Colonies, 1961), 27. 66.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 371.

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Karume’s New Town superimposed on aerial photograph. (1) Stone Town (2) Mnazi Moja (3) Bwawani Hotel (4) Swimming pool and row ponds (5) ASP / CCM headquarters (6) Kikwajuni appartment blocks (7) Michenzani appartment blocks (8) Kilimani appartment blocks (9) Uhuru Park (Kariakoo) (10) Sebleni elderly homes (11) Amani Stadion (12) Ring road

the 1960s as huts, and Scholz confirmed this in his findings after completing the survey of 1966 (contradicting his statements in the 1968 Zanzibar Town Planning Scheme).67

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The Zanzibar New Town case is an even more notable urban development project due to its large proportions and implications. What might have been the reasons that caused such a radical decision to replace large parts of the existing city? Why did Ng’ambo have to be rebuilt? For Ng’ambo expert Garth Myers, the answer to this question can be found in the colonial and postcolonial administrative need to control the population. ‘Like the Reconstruction project of the 1940s,’ he says, ‘the Michenzani project was sited in the center of town as territorial political strategy, not as a means of civic improvement on behalf of the poor.’68 He believes that the socialist policies introduced by Karume ‘were not so much a means of bettering Ng’ambo as they were a way for the revolutionary elites to define the Other Side in their “image of the world” and dominate it.’69 Belgian researcher An Cornelis, in her thesis on Zanzibar, echoes Myers opinion:

Hidden agendas were never far and in the end the design of the city was merely used as a way to implement the newly found ideologies, it was an overall effort of the State to impose its vision and to maintain and expand their dominance, now ranging into the domestic space. 70

These explanations of the wilful replacement to enhance the power of the elite sound logical, but do not hold up under closer observation. True enough, Karume saw the rebuilding of Ng’ambo and the creation of Zanzibar New Town as one of the key tasks of the Revolution. In many of his speeches on the revolutionary future of Zanzibar, new Ng’ambo is mentioned. In his famous speech of 8 March 1964, Karume stressed the importance of building Zanzibar New Town and he added that ‘the government would immediately set up good homes for the care of the elderly, and that every modern equipment will be installed in their home’. Petterson, who recorded this speech, commented that ‘these promises would turn out to be the first of many that Karume’s government would be unable to fulfill’.71 In retrospect, it is true 68.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 372. 69.  Ibid., 341. 70.  Cornelis, An Episode of Modernist Planning Abroad, op. cit. (note 3), 12. 71.  Petterson, Revolution in Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 8), 178.

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that not all that Karume promised was delivered, but he did build good homes for the elderly. The Old People’s Home in Sebleni is probably the first housing purposely built for Africa’s wazee,72 and as far as is known, it is unique in twentieth-century East Africa. It seems quite unlikely that an old people’s home would be part of a hidden political agenda. Karume was a man of the people, and he did not fear the inhabitants of the ‘other side’ as the colonialists might have done. In fact, he had much more reason to fear the Stone Town bourgeoisie. The creation of Michenzani was not a way to control his own people in a Hausmannian manner, which is the logical explanation of treating Karume’s urban plans as the consequence of a policy to dominate the crowds. Instead, he must have wanted to de-stigmatize Ng’ambo and perhaps himself as well, as a man of proletarian descent. Ng’ambo was, under British administration, allocated to the proletariat. It therefore seems much more plausible that, by replacing Ng’ambo with a modernist New Town, Karume hoped to emancipate and modernize this part of the city. As German researcher Ludger Wimmelbücker correctly states: ‘The Michenzani construction project was a symbolic triumph over the racially defined inequalities of the past, a clarion call for self-reliance, rendered possible by a new vision of modernity.’73 In this light, the rebuilding of Michenzani reflects Karume’s ambition to offer chances for emancipation rather than a will to suppress.

CONCLUSION 2 IS THE ARCHITECTURE OF ZANZIBAR NEW TOWN TYPICALLY COMMUNIST? Another common qualification of Zanzibar New Town that is debatable is that its ‘Stalinist architectural expression’ merely confirms the power of communist thought. Former US Consul Petterson noted on his visit in 1987 that ‘in Ng’ambo we viewed the German Democratic Republic’s monument to socialism, a broad avenue lined with Stalin-era architectural monstrosities’.74 Petterson voices the interpretation of the Michenzani project popular among Westerners, who see the Trains on Michenzani’s avenues as a typical example of ‘façade socialism’, cardboard architecture concealing the poverty and backwardness behind it. Hubert Scholz, in retrospect, qualifies Michenzani as Kulissenarchitektur (stage architecture). Even Garth Myers could not conceal his

72.  Mzee (plural Wazee) means ‘old people’.

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73.  Wimmelbücker, op. cit. (note 28), 428. 74.  Petterson, Revolution in Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 8), 268.


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dislike of Michenzani, stating that the main roads are out of proportion for people living in the area.75 However, these qualifications of Michenzani’s building style mainly as an expression of Stalinist ideals is questionable. The times of Stalin’s taste and directives were long over in 1968 when the plans for Zanzibar New Town were developed and built. The grandiose Stalinist schemes in Zuckerbackerstil (wedding cake style) of the Karl Marx Allee in Berlin were long out of fashion. Besides, in the 1960s and 1970s, the communists were primarily concerned with mass housing rather than monumental avenues. New cities and neighbourhoods were comprised of loosely arranged slabs in park-like environments. Apartment buildings consisting of prefabricated elements (Plattenbau) dominated the communist urbanist and architectural agenda, as well as the Western agenda for that matter. After all, it was the local president Abeid Amani Karume, and not a GDR designer, who made the choice for high-rise apartment blocks, which makes him the main architect of Zanzibar New Town. Moreover, the New Town as a whole was not the whimsical project of a single, strong-headed president, but a series of several more or less separate projects, continued by Karume’s successors and not completed until 2008. It is also important to note that the distaste for Michenzani is not unequivocally shared by the citizens of Zanzibar Town. Certainly, there has been strong criticism on the functioning of the Trains, but all in all they have been accepted as part of contemporary Zanzibar. Karume’s production was prolific. In ten years, the Revolutionary Government built a new stadium, over 3,000 dwellings, a funfair, schools, clinics, party offices, a government hotel, new radio and television stations and much more. This ‘production for the people’ is far more important than what Karume’s colonial predecessors had achieved, and it is difficult to understand and agree with interpretations heavily condemning Karume’s building projects (in particular Michenzani) as being misplaced, aggressively authoritarian or even as consciously scarring the cityscape.76 Myers stated in 1993 that people did not want to live in Michenzani, Kikwajuni and Kilimani. Nilsson, in his turn, who worked on Ng’ambo in the late 1960s and 1970s with his planning team

75.  Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 362: ‘These extraordinary boulevards would crisscross the mitaa of 50,000 people, who owned less than 100 cars among them.’ In 1969 Nilsson counted 14 cars per 100 households in Miembeni – this would mean about 1,000 cars for the whole of N’gambo. See: Nilsson, Tanzania – Zanzibar, op. cit. (note 22), 30. 76.  Garth Myers in particular condemns Michenzani: ‘Misuse of funds, misplacement of priorities and aggressively authoritarian and acquisitive bureaucratic climate combined with a disregards for the needs and wishes of Ng’ambo people to ensure that both the nationalization of land and the Michenzani project would merely scar the cityscape, not transform the city.’ Source: Myers, Reconstructing Ng’ambo, op. cit. (note 15), 391

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ZNZ postage stamps 1974 (source: AAMatters)

from Lund University, was rather positive about the flats in Kikwajuni and Kilimani, which had then just been completed. He noted that they were equipped with electrical stoves and modern bathrooms: ‘For most of the people who moved into Kikwajuni it meant a considerable increase of living standard and they are satisfied with living there.’ This aspect is often overlooked by Westerners criticizing New Towns in Third world countries. Concerning Kilimani, Nilsson finds that ‘living in the new houses for the tenants means such an enormous improvement of standards, that disadvantages such as the many stories from their point of view appear insignificant. A long time of use will make those clear.’77 Also, the Zanzibari surveyor Muhammad Salim Sulaiman is now positive about the housing schemes of Karume’s times, in particular Kikwajuni

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Kikwajuni housing (source: Zanzibar Archives)

(1965). Notwithstanding the fact that the Kikwajuni flats were planned in the GDR, they seem well adapted to contemporary Zanzibari living culture, and the layout of the neighbourhood took existing Swahili houses of good quality as well as major trees into account. Even though there is obviously a lack of maintenance, the public space is poorly used and the architecture is depressing in its rigidity and dullness, the inhabitants make the most of it and do not consider their neighbourhood unattractive.

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CONCLUSION 3 ZANZIBAR CITY: THE END OF SPATIAL SEGREGATION? Ng’ambo was the ‘other side’ of the creek, and when Zanzibar Town expanded beyond the creek, the new area was referred to as the ‘other side’ – Ng’ambo. During the second half of the nineteenth century, however, there was little difference between one side or the other in terms of urban development and population. Formal segregation between Stone Town and Ng’ambo was not introduced until the first years of the Protectorate and is therefore a colonial construct. This segregation was confirmed in the colonial master plans of 1923 and 1958. Upon Independence, Karume wanted to erase Ng’ambo and Stone Town to make room for his New Town. By this move he hoped to undo the colonial segregation and break with the divided history of Zanzibar. However, he judged it too early to touch Stone Town and instead decided to leave the destruction to time itself.78 He concentrated first on Ng’ambo, as we have seen. Stone Town, meanwhile, did decay to such an extent that the frequent collapses and demolitions taking place in the 1980s roused the alarm of the conservationists. Subsequent interest by global players like the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and UNESCO, followed by flocks of tourists, gentrified Stone Town and, again, it distanced itself from Ng’ambo. This new segregation was formalized by omitting Stone Town in the 1982 Chang-Kequan master plan and having a separate conservation scheme drafted that eventually led to its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ng’ambo has thus remained the ‘other side’, clearly separated from Stone Town. The tourists flocking to Zanzibar visit Stone Town, but only cross Ng’ambo on their way to the beach or the airport. For the Zanzibari citizens, however, Michenzani is not a remote area. The ‘Michenzani’ quadrants are not seen as Ng’ambo anymore, but are now considered by the Zanzibari to belong to down town, and the city area called Ng’ambo has moved eastward, to the more recently settled informal areas of town. It is evident that Karume’s argument to replace Ng’ambo differed from colonial reasons. The colonial administration wanted to preserve segregation and might have wanted to rebuild Ng’ambo out of their desire to be in control of the African proletariat.79 Karume wanted to not only rebuild Ng’ambo, but Stone Town as well.

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He wanted to erase the historical burden and replace the city with a modern New Town. What Karume did inherit from the late colonial administration though, is his conviction that the poor population could be uplifted through modernity. Rebuilding the city would erase the segregational split forever. He was a ‘man on a mission’, who might have adhered much more to Nyerere’s 1967 Arusha Declaration than he admitted. In respect to Zanzibar New Town, he strongly promoted the aims of ‘social equality’ and ‘self-reliance’, which are two of the five major points of the Arusha Declaration. Modernity was a magic word for Karume. Contrary to Nyerere, he loved modern technology. He clearly admired the modern metropolis, which Nyerere so abhorred. For Karume modern architecture was a way out of poverty, which he himself had known as a child. Replacing the city of poverty and racial inferiority with a shining modern metropolis was the final solution in his mind.

Acknowledgments In the search for answers, my gratitude extends to Sophie van Ginneken for her critical review and challenging suggestions, to Garth Andrew Myers for sharing his exhaustive fieldwork and detailed report with me; to Ludger Wimmelbücker for providing me with his precious and recent research; to An Cornelis for allowing me to use the results of her thesis study; to Hubert Scholz for receiving me in Berlin and providing me with original material and, last but not least, Muhamad Salim Sulaiman for his thoughtful contributions to my research on Zanzibar over the past five years.

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Tracing the Roots of Alamar

Michelle Provoost

ALAMAR, CUBA

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Alamar is one of those New Towns which look remarkably familiar at first glance. An abundance of standardized walkup flats, modernist social housing of 5-6 storeys of a similar kind that Western European New Towns excelled in during the 50s and 60s. Organized in neighborhood units, each with their set of shops, schools and services. A lot of open, green spaces in between and ample provision for cars and traffic. But no matter how familiar this cityscape looks: this is Cuba and everything is different from what it looks like. To start with: this New Town was not built in the 50s but in the 70s, in a quite extraordinary way, completely different than its European family members. Even if they share the same DNA, Alamar is not only shaped by the modernist canon of postwar New Towns, but just as much by the revolutionary ethos of Cuba after the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and it even bears the marks of the prerevolutionary period under the regime of President Fulgencio Batista.1 At second glance, this peculiar mix makes up the unique character of Alamar, New Town ‘at the sea’. Havana derives its popularity as a tourist destination for a large part from the fact that the city remains practically unchanged from what it looked like 60 years ago. The old inner city, Habana Vieja, shows the same colonial structure and beautiful buildings, albeit ever more crumbling, than it did in 1959. Vedado, the urban extension dating back from the 1850s still showcases the impressive art deco architecture gems and the modernist masterpieces from the fifties in an original state that is unique in the world. But even though the formal appearance of the city is basically unchanged, the use and atmosphere of these urban areas is nothing like it used to be. 605

1. Fulgencio Batista was President of Cuba (1940–1944), Prime Minister of Cuba (1952–1952), and again President of Cuba (1955–1959).


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SODOM AND GOMORRA In the fifties, Havana was an international, hustling and bustling metropolis of the kind that Latin American capitals usually were: with a million inhabitants, it was by far the biggest city on the mainly agricultural island, followed by cities like Santiago and Cienfuegos, which only had around 100.000 residents. Check. All energy and investment was concentrated on Havana, which was quickly turning into a city of pleasure and entertainment, dominated by American culture. On the one hand this became visible in the shopping streets and well-designed department stores that boasted the latest fashions and trends; 900 nightclubs that offered spectacular shows, famous all over the world like the Cabaret Tropicana; casino’s where every kind of gambling was possible and encouraged like Casino Nacional and Montmartre Club; international hotels like the Habana Riviera and the Hilton hotel, that catered for the rich and famous; and a building frenzy that produced modernist villa’s in such a great number and of such luxury as seen nowhere else, with the possible exception of Los Angeles. On the other hand, this festive city was looked at by many as Cuba’s own Sodom and Gomorra. Many of the nightclubs and hotels, frequented by the American showbiz stars like Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner and Robert Mitchum, were in the hands of the American mafia, as was pictured in movies like The Godfather, Havana and The lost city. American mafia figureheads like Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano eagerly developed real estate and entertainment projects top: Obispo Street in Habana Vieja, 1952 (source: bestcubaguide.com/beautiful-1960s-old-havanaphotos-archive/). bottom: A Havana Casino, 1958 (source: /culturacolectiva.com/fotografia/como-eracuba-antes-de-castro)

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to turn Havana into a Latin Las Vegas.2 There were hundreds of brothels and more than 10.000 prostitutes working the streets. Without the nuisance and the risk of permanent investigations and US government control, Havana offered an excellent playground for American organized crime, especially since President Fulgencio Batista actively promoted the development of Havana as entertainment capital. He stimulated the building of casino’s and hotels with tax incentives and protected the mobsters; Meyer Lansky was a close friend. If he sincerely thought entertainment and tourism were the way forward for to develop Havana, is unknown. It is known however, that he carried with him more than 300 million dollars from graft and pay-offs, when he fled the country on new year’s eve 1958/9.3 Parallel to the mundane and hedonistic development of Havana in the 40s and 50s, also inequality and segregation grew. The city was exiting but unfair. All the characteristics of an unequal city, that were common in most Latin American cities in that era, also existed in Havana: extensive areas of the city consisted of slums, poverty was appalling, illiteracy was high, and racial segregation was normal. The entertainment world included and attracted gambling, prostitution, crime, and widespread corruption. Up to the highest regions of government an unimaginable corruption pervaded.

‘A cane cutter and his family standing in front of their home’, 1944 (source: /culturacolectiva.com/fotografia/como-era-cuba-antes-de-castro)

Unofficially Havana was becoming a semi-American city and Cuba was seen as one of the states of the USA, a status that was comparable to that of Puerto Rico or Hawaii. It is not difficult to understand how this development was an affront to all those parties that had been fighting –literally– for the independence of Cuba from colonial rule since the 19th century, starting with Jose Marti, the godfather of the Cuban revolution who organized and inspired the first insurgence in 1895.

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2. Many publications exist on this theme, see for instance: Enrique Cirules, The Mafia in Havana. A Carribean Mob Story, Ocean Press, Australia 2004 3. Alarcón, Ricardo. “The Long March of the Cuban Revolution.” Monthly Review 60, no. 8 (January 1, 2009): 24. doi:10.14452/mr-060-08-2009-01_2


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TWO AMERICAN PLANS The influx of American money and culture had a huge and stimulating effect on modern architecture, which in the 40s and 50s went through ‘a period of greatest formal and conceptual excellence’.4 The architectural scene was very active, with a high pace of innovation and experiment, and designers like Mario Romanach, Frank Martínez, Eugenio Batista, Nicolas Quintana and Nicolas Arroyo. The exchange with colleagues abroad was lively and intensive and Havana hosted visitors like Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, Walter Gropius and Philip Johnson; magazines were published and Associations, Clubs and Groups were founded. This period saw economic recovery and real estate development was actively promoted by the government, notably with the 1952 Condominium Law, which made it possible to profitably develop towers higher than six storeys along the Malecon. The well-known FOCSA apartment building in Vedado (1956) is an example of this, changing the skyline of Havana in a striking way.5 The modernist style, influenced by the loose forms of contemporary Brazilian architecture, American suburban culture but also many more influences, went through an incredible fertile period with a whole new generation of architects taking advantage of all the creative possibilities of the economic boom. This resulted in a strong connection between the modernist architectural style and the period of Americanization: modernism played a very visible role in shaping this Havana of abundance. But not only the actual buildings that we can still see today as the legacy of the Batista period bear witness to a period of great and controversial transformation. Two unexecuted plans that were well underway when the triumph of the revolution happened, would have forever changed the face of the city as well as its atmosphere and program. The architects of these two plans, that share a rather megalomaniac approach, were not Cuban, but American, and both were figureheads of the Modern Movement. José Luis Sert’s proposals for Havana’s inner city (1955-1958) are surprising even today: were they even serious? Just as rigorous as Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin thirty years earlier (1925) for the center of Paris, he proposed such radical changes for Habana Vieja that the urban fabric would have been utterly destroyed.

4. Eduardo Luis Rodriguez, The Havana Guide. Modern Architecture 1925-1965, New York 2000, p. xvi 5. The 1952 Condominium Law or Ley de Propriedad Horizontal is explained in: Joseph L. Scarpaci, Roberto Segre, Mario Coyula, Havana. Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis, University of North Carolina Press, 2002, p.121

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Sert’s heartless, technocratic approach is all the stranger in hindsight since CIAM, of which Sert was president, had just organized the Heart of the City conference in Hoddesdon (UK) in 1951. The plan is showing all the inherent ambiguities of wanting to create a humanist center by destroying it. However, it was the consensus amongst modern architects at that time that some sacrifices needed to be made in order to have the city function as a well-tuned machine. And even at that time, Habana Vieja was seen as dilapidated and overcrowded. Just like Le Corbusier, Sert pardoned the most important monuments, that would remain untouched; an interpretation of heritage, focused on single objects, which is typical for modernist thinking on the value of history. He introduced the widening of Vieja’s picturesque streets, highly motivated by the predicted growth of car traffic. All


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building blocks would be hollowed out to create (parking) patio’s. Pedestrian and car traffic would be separated. All the classic CIAM principles –the separation between the four functions of the city: housing, working, traffic, recreation- were introduced. A central strip in Havana Vieja was reserved for commerce and banking. Just off the Malecon, Sert projected an artificial island for recreational use, with casino’s and hotels. In the eastern side of the harbor a zone was designated for government facilities. Part of those was the presidential ‘Palace of the Palms’, which was taken out of the center and put at a distance, glorifying political power in general and the dictator in particular.6

TPA (Town Planning Associates), Havana Pilot Plan, the Havana region, 1958 (source: Joseph M. Rovira, José Luis Sert. 1901-1983, Milan 2000)

As a context for understanding Alamar, a different aspect of Sert’s plans is relevant. His Plan Piloto de la Habana included the scale of the region and proposed to correct 6. Joseph M. Rovira, José Luis Sert. 1901-1983, Milan 2000

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the unbalanced development of Havana. To the eastside of the harbor, up to Cojimar and beyond, new roads and urban areas were planned to connect the city to the new suburbs on the eastern beaches. An assignment of the national government of Batista, Sert’s plan catered for the developers and speculators who were looking for new places to invest and create a profit. And while his inner city plans never took off, the outlines for the extension of Havana in eastern direction did.

GO EAST! Havana had for a long time been growing eccentrically in western and southern direction. In the west, along the coast, Miramar accommodated the rich; to the south, the extensive features of ‘Havana Profunda’ housed the lower and middle class; the urban poor lived in slums.7 The attraction of the beaches to the east of Havana had led to suburbs like Santa Maria del Mar, gradually filling up in the fifties with villa’s and beach houses of all kinds, experimental and plain, exuberant and more modest, modernist-monumental, rational, Spanish or Ranch style. To get there took quite a long drive around the harbor. It was the barrier of the harbor which prevented the areas immediately on the other side of the bay to become urbanized. Plans for a bridge had been blocked because ship travel would be hampered. Of course, a tunnel, though far more expensive, would not cause the same problems. In 1955 the building of the tunnel started, a French engineering office teamed up with Cuban engineers and designers and in 1958 the tunnel, which was proclaimed one of the seven engineering wonders of Cuba (in 1997), opened for traffic. Of course, the investments in the tunnel were not just made to create a more balanced urban development; the commercial, touristic and residential potential of this huge empty stretch of coastal land, so close to the center of the city, was clearly enormously promising. Based on the outlines for urbanization which were proposed in Sert’s Plan Piloto de la Habana, development began. The first requirement for development was access. The American firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill, which had also advised on the execution of the tunnel, designed the Via Monumental to provide this, running from the tunnel entrance to the existing Via Blanca which is the main road to the eastern suburbs. The toll road, a 100 meters 611

7. Havana Profunda is the name of the area in the South of Havana, also called Diez de Octubre.


The tunnel under the bay, giving access to the East of Havana (source: Courtesy of Humberto Ramirez)

Skidmore, Owings and Merill, Masterplan for Habana del Este, 1955. (source: SOM, New York)

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wide, 6-lane carriageway, is still astonishing; just like anything else in Habana it is stuck in the fifties, with its typically 50s design lighting poles and the pristine and mostly empty stretches of concrete surface, elegantly flowing through the landscape. There is none of the traffic signs or advertising billboards that usually line any highway, only a morbid billboard claiming the US Blockade of Cuba is the biggest genocide in history. After the Via Monumental, SOM continued around 1954 with the design for the area closest to the center, then called Habana del’ Este (nowadays Camilo Cienfuegos). It was going to be a city for 100.000 residents, orderly arranged in four similar neighborhoods, of which each had a central square with church and school, and a touristic center with hotels and facilities on the seaside. The beaches would provide public access, in contrary to the private beaches in Santa Maria del Mar, which were closed to visitors. These suburbs shared a commercial city center along the Via Monumental, which included shopping of all sorts on a pedestrian platform, designed according to the latest urban planning insights, and flanked by 20 high rise apartment buildings, for which an American investor had already been found.

SUBURBAN ALAMAR Around the same time in 1957, just before the revolution, the development started of the most eastern part of the city which Sert had allocated in his Plan Piloto for urban extension. Roads and infrastructure –water, sewage, electricity– were being laid out in Alamar. Ads in the daily newspapers show a surveyor and multiple images of workers building streets and infrastructure, proving how Alamar will soon become a reality. This area, ‘the Top of Habana del Este’ was going to have less of an urban character than neighboring Habana del Este, which had a more diverse character in housing typologies, heights and program. Instead Alamar was intended as the first of the string of coastal suburbs which up to that moment started with Santa Maria del Mar; it was going to be typical suburb modelled along the lines of the American prototype, a low-density area with winding roads lined by luxury villa’s. While Habana del Est was designed for a mix of incomes, Alamar would cater for the rich.

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The plots in the south of Alamar (now: districts 9-11) were the first ones being marketed by the development firm which advertised the new area as being close to the city center (a 6-minute drive) and to the beaches (also a 6-minute drive), conveniently located outside the hustle and bustle of the center with its traffic and pollution. The slogans tell it all: “Así de cerca tendrá usted La Habana, Alamar” (So close will you have


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Advertisements for Alamar, 1957-1959 (source: Courtesy of Humberto Ramirez)

Havana, Alamar); “Costa Azul de Alamar le ofrece una residencia diseñada para usted. Clima de comodidad” (Costa Azul Alamar offers a residence designed for you. Climate comfort).8 The pictures convey a clear image of the targeted population: one image shows a young stylish woman with stiletto heels in a modernist design, a butterfly chair. In another picture the same woman looks out dreamily over the coastline in her elegant dress. Speculation 8. Reinaldo Morales Campos, “El ocaso del millonario negocio de la Gran Habana del este: Publicidad y realidad”, www.monografias.com/trabajos93/ocaso-del-millonario-negocio-gran-habana-del-este/ocasodel-millonario-negocio-gran-habana-del-este.shtml#ixzz4UMkeudWZ

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was also a clear motive for aspiring inhabitants as the slogans betray: “Sow money where money grows” and “Este es el momento de comprar en Alamar y ganar dinero rápidamente” (This is the time to buy in Alamar and win money quickly). Even up to March 1959 Alamar was advertised along these lines and not unsuccessful: at that point about 10% of the plots was sold and built.9

TRIUMPH OF THE REVOLUTION And then… The revolution triumphed. The long stretched movement for independence, which had already started with Jose Marti, continued during the first half of the 20th Century with a series of student protests and numerous riots, entered its final stage with the landing of Fidel and his revolutionary troops in 1956 with the boat Granma. After fighting his way from Eastern Cuba to Havana, he made his triumphant entrée in the capital at January 8, 1959. One week before, on New Year’s Eve 1958/1959, Eugenio Batista had fled Cuba. Castro called the triumph of the revolution and took his entree in the Hilton Hotel which had been opened just six months before. He provocatively renamed it the Habana Libre. Casinos were stormed and the roulette tables were burned in the streets. No one really hated gambling, but as it had become to symbolize the American overtaking of the island, everything having to do with gambling needed to be destroyed. Developments were very quick and radical in the first days of the revolution. The mob, Batista-supporters, but also architects and developers fled the country in subsequent waves, and all urban developments in Havana came to a standstill. Fidel Castro, El Commandante, said ‘Stop’. Carlos Puebla, the Singer of the Revolution’, composed the song ‘Y en eso llegó Fidel’ (‘And then Fidel arrived’) on this decisive moment, which interestingly clearly points at aspects of the urban development and economy of Cuba as the stumbling stones for the new revolutionary regime: speculation, the unlimited building of apartment houses and land grabbing are clearly pointed out as the bad practices that crippled the Cuban population:

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Aquí pensaban seguir

Here they wanted to continue

ganando el ciento por ciento

taking everything for a 100%,

con casas de apartamentos

having apartment houses,

y echar al pueblo a sufrir

and making people suffer.

Y seguir de modo cruel

And continuing in a cruel way

contra el pueblo conspirando

to conspire against the people

para seguirlo explotando...

to continue exploiting them...

y en eso llegó Fidel

and then Fidel arrived.

Se acabó la diversión,

The fun was over,

llegó el Comandante

El Comandante came

y mandó a parar (Bis)

and ordered them to stop. (encore)

Aquí pensaban seguir

Here they wanted to continue,

tragando y tragando tierra

swallowing and swallowing the land,

sin sospechar que en la Sierra

not suspecting that in Sierra Maestra

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Y seguir de modo cruel

And continuing in a cruel way

la costumbre del delito

the custom of crime

hacer de Cuba un garito...

to turn Cuba into a gambling den...

y en eso llegó Fidel

and then Fidel arrived.

Se acabó la diversión,

The fun was over,

llegó el Comandante

El Comandante came

y mandó a parar (Bis)

and ordered them to stop. (encore)

Aquí pensaban seguir

Here they wanted to continue,

diciendo que los ratreros,

saying that vicious

forajidos bandoleros

fugitive bandits

asolaban al país

were devastating the country.

Y seguir de modo cruel

And continuing in a cruel way

con la infamia por escudo

with disgrace as their shield,

difamando a los barbudos...

to defame bearded people...

y en eso legó Fidel

and then Fidel arrived.

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Se acabó la diversión,

The fun was over,

llegó el Comandante

El Comandante came

y mandó a parar (Bis)

and ordered them to stop. (encore)

Aquí pensaban seguir

Here they wanted to continue

jugando a la democracia

pretending to be democrats,

y el pueblo que en su desgracia

and people would just die

se acabara de morir

in their misery.

Y seguir de modo cruel

And continuing in a cruel way,

sin cuidarse ni la forma

not caring how it was done,

con el robo como norma...

with robbery as a rule...

y en eso llegó Fidel

and then Fidel arrived.

Se acabó la diversión,

The fun was over,

llegó el Comandante

El Comandante came

y mandó a parar (Bis)

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10. www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwTIfVG1i_g 11. Translation: Based on: lyricstranslate.com/en/y-en-eso-lleg%C3%B3-fidel-and-then-fidel-arrived.html

and ordered them to stop. (encore)

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Bringing all spatial development plans for Havana to a standstill was not just a symbolic gesture, a punishment for the hedonistic Havana that had extradited itself to capitalism and the US and thus had become a Sodom and Gomorrah of gambling, prostitution and exploitation. It was a radical but understandable break with the unbalanced economic development in which Havana absorbed all investments on the island. The unbalanced spatial development of Cuba reflected the colonial interests based on the export of raw materials; while Havana developed into a metropolis, the countryside consisted mainly of sugar plantations. In 1959, Havana had 1.3 million inhabitants, the second largest city, Santiago de Cuba had barely 200,000. Castro put a brake on investment in Havana and aimed at deconcentration to develop the smaller cities and the rest of the island.

Havana slums against the backdrop of a casino. (source: unknown photographer, www. museumsyndicate.com/item. php?item=53892)

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The segregation within the cities and the poverty in which many Cubans were forced to live, was one of the spearheads of Castro’s policy. Immediately he took the immensely popular and drastic measure to reduce the rents by 50%, under the motto: housing is not a commodity but a right. He also immediately began cleaning up the slums, which was facilitated by the many empty houses left behind by the Cubans who fled the country; many of them in Habana Vieja, but also of course in the most expensive residential areas. Since then, many poorer families live in the old town and government departments, student organizations and various institutions are accommodated in the glamorous villas of the former well to do. Apart from the pragmatic reasons to do so, it is hard to avoid the impression that the ‘foreign’ modernist architecture was infected in the eyes of the revolutionary regime as a symbol of the influence of America. Sert’s island with casinos and hotels, brutally placed in front of the Malecon; the presidential palace, positioned like a temple on the other side of the bay looking down on the city, as one of the Spanish forts; the way in which plots in Alamar were shamelessly advertised as speculation, with images of an American/Western lifestyle that didn’t care about the needs of most Cubans but focused sans gene on the small elite who could afford it. Modernist architecture visualized the injustice.


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In Cuba, wealth coincided with the modernist style. Unlike in Europe, where modernism coincided with social housing, the modernist social projects in Havana could be counted on the fingers of one hand.12 Of course the Hilton Hotel, which had just officially opened six months before the triumph of the revolution, was the ultimate symbol of American influence, globalization and capitalism and therefore was confiscated immediately by Castro and the Rebel Army. It was in every way a well-chosen symbolic act of Castro to making this building into his headquarters. 12. Pogolotti (1910-1913), Lutgardita (1929) and Luyano (1944)

The Rebel Army in the Havana Libre, formerly the Havana Hilton, 1959 (source: www. theguardian.com/cities/2015/ may/12/havana-habana-librecastro-cuba-us-history-cities50-buildings-day-34. Lester Cole/Corbis)

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The modernist aesthetics was connected to the politics of Batista, the US and the mafia and was in a suspicious corner. Many modern Cuban architects, Cuban and foreign developers and speculators left the country as soon as they learned that the options to undertake architecture and real estate development as a profitable business had come to an end under Castro’s rule.

THE SOCIALIST URBAN IDEAL Despite the fact that many houses became empty and available after the triumph of the revolution, there was still a huge need for additional housing. While the bourgeoisie migrated to the US, workers and peasants from the countryside migrated to Havana, overflowing the capital. Castro founded the National Institute of Savings and Housing (INAV), led by the invariably described as charismatic or even mythical director Pastorita Nunez.13 She was given the task of devising an alternative spatial strategy for housing. She developed with her team new housing typologies, often with characteristic scale roofs and of high quality, that were seen as ‘a model in socialist Cuban urbanism’.14 With the income from the State lottery, one of the few gambling elements that were continued by the communist government, building orders were given to private contractors who were still allowed to exist at that moment. In 1961 a beautiful neighborhood was built by INAV consisting of 400 bungalows in the western part of Alamar. They are known as ‘the Russian bungalows’, because they housed the technical advisers who came to help Cuba and advise on the development of the country; apparently most of them were of Russian origin. The friendly bungalows come in several variations, but all are characterized by their small shell roofs, which they have in common with the social housing blocks developed by INAV in other parts of the city. Next to that, INAV re-interpreted the existing plans for Havana del Este within the new revolutionary context. SOM’s plan was already redesigned by a group of Cuban architects in 1958, but now it needed to happen again; now no longer with a scope on tourism and shopping, but on public housing; no longer for the wealthy class, but consisting of affordable apartments.

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The ‘Russian bungalows’ in Alamar (source: INTI, 2015)

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Habana del Este, presently Camilo Cienfuegos, in the sixties (source: Courtesy Eduardo Luis Rodriguez)

Habana del Este, presently Camilo Cienfuegos, in the sixties (source: Courtesy of Humberto Ramirez)

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From 1959-1961 Unit 1 was constructed, according to housing designs by Mario González, Hugo d’Acosta-Calheiros and others.15 Habana del Este was the urban utopia of the revolution, but also closely followed the ideals of the European New Town movement. It was designed as a composition of high-rise condominiums and walkup flats of four storeys around an open green area with sports fields. The infrastructure consisted of a hierarchical traffic system with a separation of through traffic and pedestrians. The neighborhood had many amenities: schools, gyms, shopping and community services. To this day it is a nice area because of its smart design of streets and public space, the variety and design of its architecture, and purely because of the quality of its housing it is still considered a desirable place to live. The district was proudly presented at the VII Congress of the International Association of Architects (UIA) held in Havana in 1963. But already on that occasion Fidel Castro proclaimed that the number work was discouraging: Habana del Este was too good and too expensive and it could not be repeated. In 1961 the American boycott had started after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion; of the many things that were needed in revolutionary Cuba, housing was one of the first things sacrificed. Castro explained:

“You could say that this unit [in Havana del Este] is ideal from our point of view [because of] the construction, the urban housing… but also because it is the type of construction that was beyond our means… And so, naturally, we don’t construct those large buildings anymore. We now try to find variety in other forms, but not by erecting tall buildings”. 16

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MICROBRIGADES But if the carefully planned and designed Habana del Este was too expensive, what then? For a number of years in the remainder of the sixties, Castro let the ‘free market’ or individual house builders, meet their own needs. For a communist country, a surprising high percentage of self-built housing was erected. But it was not enough. Housing shortages roared. In 1970 Castro admitted: “Yes Mister America, socialism is hard to build”. Therefor Fidel Castro announced in 1971 a rather unique and revolutionary idea, mobilizing the people to build their own houses by organizing them in Microbrigades. People who actually worked in a factory, office or hospital formed building brigades of 33 people, mostly men but also women, who instead of making cigars, machines or nursing people would turn to building, doing masonry or fixing plumbing. In 9 months a Microbrigade would build one apartment building after which many of them would have the chance to move into one of their self-built apartments. In 1971 already 444 Microbrigades existed and in 1975 30.000 workers constituted 1.150 Microbrigades that built more than 25.000 apartments as well as schools and public buildings. By 1983, the brigades had completed 100.000 units nationwide.17

Microbrigade working in Alamar in the seventies (source: Courtesy of Humberto Ramirez)

There was hardly any urban planning consideration on the best places where housing could be erected. Pragmatically three expansion areas were designated in the 70s where still a number of voids remained, who were ready for construction but never completed because of the revolution. These areas were the San Augustin, Alta Habana and Alamar: neighborhoods partly built up with detached or semi-detached villa’s, frivolous suburbs into which the Microbrigades now inserted their crude concrete apartment blocks on any empty lot which resulted in a quite curious cityscape. 17. Idem, p.218

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In Alamar existed the most space by far. At that time there were some villa’s lying scattered about Alamar and INAV had in 1961 built the 400 ‘Russian bungalows’ in the western part of the area. Apart from that, there was just the infrastructure of water, sewer and electricity and the pattern of streets waiting to be filled in. Just like in San Augustin and Alta Habana also in Alamar the urban plan was not adjusted for accommodating the new typology of walk-up flats that were built by the Microbrigades. Pragmatically the existing infrastructure was considered a given and the brigades built around and in between the here and there already realized villa’s and the bungalow district. Based on the existing infrastructure of winding roads, designed for villas and detached houses in low density, the Microbrigades built a city for 100,000 people. The walk-up flats of four and later –at the instigation of Fidel Castro and against the wishes of the technical direction in Alamar– also five floors were simply placed along the roads as if they were detached houses. Naturally this had all kinds of undesirable consequences for the orientation of the housing. It also meant that the careful formation of public space by the positioning of the blocks, as had happened in Habana del Este and as it was an integral part of modernist urbanism, was omitted in Alamar. As a result, public space in Alamar is ubiquitous, but of a curious or just plain bad quality.


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Because of the forced acceptance of the existing urban scheme, Alamar has become a unique New Town, showing all the signs of a curious reversal. It is the only New Town in the world where the New Town planning principles (hierarchical ordering of neighborhoods and infrastructure, and an equally hierarchic structure of public and collective services and amenities) were retroactively imposed on a suburban subdivision. The division in neighborhoods –or microdistricts as they are called after Russian example– is matched by a series of public services like schools, shops and swimming pools, while the city as a whole was equipped with a city center with a post office, community center, a cinema and some recreational buildings. Not only its suburban origins but also its Microbrigade construction roots make it special: Alamar is a unique Cuban form of self-organized or aided self-help housing. Also after completion the district had a turbulent history with inimitable characteristics and inventions. These were triggered by necessity: after the fall of the Berlin Wall the profitable ties with the USSR evaporated, which caused an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis, euphemistically known as The Special Period. Due to its isolation Alamar was exceptionally affected by the lack of fuel which caused an almost complete absence of public transport. The dormitory town was on his own. Public services were cut and literally crumbled, pools closed, sports facilities shut down due to lack of maintenance, the cinema closed and the center of Alamar, which was never up to par with a city of 100,000 anyway, was all but forgotten. Because the Russian food imports came to a standstill and the American boycott didn’t leave any alternatives, people were suffering from actual hunger. This is when urban agriculture in Alamar started: the residents were forced to grow their own food. On the location of the planned hospital which never materialized, a farm (organopónico) was started. Due to the Special Period, during which pesticides and gasoline were unavailable, this and other organopónico’s in the abundant open space of Alamar developed itself into the world’s leading organic farming. Another characteristic of Alamar that was born out of need was the thriving music scene. The lack of facilities for the large group of youth in Alamar and the relative isolation of the city from the center of Havana led to the development of a hip-hop scene, that translated the music from popular and nearby Miami radio stations into a Cuban version of hip hop. In the empty outdoor theater in Alamar, hip hop concerts were organized that the whole of Havana attended. These are only two examples of the vitality of Alamar, which, unlike many of her ‘family members’ in Europe, has developed into a lively area where Cuban street culture makes up for the monotony of the city’s architecture. 629


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The City of Dodoma as a Product of Global Politics and Conflicting Ideologies

Sophie van Ginneken

DODOMA, TANZANIA

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“We have to take advantage of the opportunity to make Dodoma a good place in which to live and work, and to bring up children as good Tanzanians. The town must be integrated as a society as a whole, it must be neither an ivory tower, nor a new version of our existing towns. It must draw upon the lessons of other specially built cities throughout the world, but it must not be a copy of any of them. Dodoma must be a town which is built in simple style but with buildings which reflect the light, air, and space of Africa.� President J.K. Nyerere in a foreword to the National Capital Master Plan Dodoma, May 1976

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INTRODUCTION In the global collection of New Towns, there is no town more symbolical and political than the planned capital. If building a medium-sized planned city is quite a task, than building a capital is its superlative: extraordinarily ambitious or, according to sceptics, a project simply too big and too risky to succeed. Known examples of planned capitals like Brasilia (Brazil), Islamabad (Pakistan), Canberra (Australia) and Chandigarh (the administrative capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana in India) show that the futuristic blueprints underlying them mostly fail to materialize, thwarted as they are by economic depressions, wars and other unforeseen circumstances. These cities are known by the visionary plans made for them, by what they were supposed to become rather than by what they really are today: quiet, purely administrative or even problematic places, in all cases somewhat artificial-looking. In this sense the Tanzanian capital of Dodoma, planned in the mid-1970s, is such a city that is primarily regarded as a plan of the past. Many people even call it a hopelessly failed plan, a ‘paper capital’ with a mostly administrative status, and doubt whether it will ever be a real capital. The Dodoma project dates from the end of a period in which most African countries celebrated their independence with new political ideologies, new forms of government and new capitals. Dodoma is one of several planned capitals projected in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s as representative symbols of their new nations. Usually located right in the middle of the country, they were destined to take over the role of their colonial counterparts, which were too heavily marked by the oppression and exploitation in their pasts. By contrast, the old colonial power seats, often strategically located on the coast or on the main trade routes, were economic centres that only benefited the few. A new capital in an as yet vacant and neutral location represented the optimism of the new regime and the new national consciousness, which made such a project the perfect opportunity for the creation of a physical symbol of the new nation’s soul. Characteristically, planned capitals are built to convey a message.1 As we shall see, the spirit of that message was often the exact opposite of the one propagated by the colonial occupier during the preceding period: no longer closed (accessible to a minority) and strictly hierarchical, but open and socially equal. Other examples of planned African capitals are Abuja (Nigeria), Lilongwe (Malawi) and Gaborone (Botswana). That planning a new capital is still a tempting way to ratify independence today is demonstrated by recent plans for the South Sudan capital Ramciel (seceded from Sudan in 2011). Here, too, the idea seems to be that a new country needs a new capital. And 1.  Rachel Keeton, Rising in the East: Contemporary New Towns in Asia, ‘Foreword’ by Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout (Rotterdam: SUN, 2011), 18.

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here, too, the exorbitant budget (10 billion dollars) for a remote, futuristic city, this time in the poorest of African countries, receives both jeers from critics (who think the money would be much better spent on poverty reduction) and acclaim from supporters (who think an alternative for the completely congested Juba is absolutely necessary).2 Dodoma, however, was set to be different than all the other capitals of its time, and was emphatically a reaction against them. No grand design, imposing monuments, office towers and superhighways, but a manifestation of the ‘light, air and space of Africa’. In line with the policy of socialism and self-reliance, the new capital was to be a man-centred city, based on the traditional way of living and built around compact units of ‘urban villages’. The residential units (and, to a lesser extent, a representative city centre) were the starting point for the new city, because this was where the collective farm life would take place. The city would be a home and not a monument, such was

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2.  Koert Lindijer, ‘Futuristische stad voor arm Zuid-Soedan’, NRC Handelsblad, 10 December 2011, 10.


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the pursuit of president Nyerere who gave the goahead for construction in 1973.3 He encapsulated the foundations on which the city, like the country, would be built in the resounding word Ujamaa (variously translated as ‘familyhood’, ‘unity’ or, nowadays, ‘socialism’). According to this African socialist ideology, Dodoma would be a new type of city, a socialist city of selfreliance, based on farming culture. Nyerere felt that a so-called autarkic lifestyle that focused on Tanzania’s own resources, its self-producing character organized around the extended family, was of fundamental importance to the culture and economy of his people. The national capital in the form of a large, self-supporting farming village served to showcase the Tanzanian soul, with its rich and ancient history. This concept for a radical new type of city that, furthermore, was not built for the elite but for the farmers, was and still is completely unique in Africa – perhaps even in the world, given the fact that capital cities (especially planned ones) tend to confirm the ‘national institution’ in a monumental way. Yet the actual execution of this original ideal, rooted so firmly in local traditions, which should have resulted in the most original and authentic of capital cities, was mainly determined by generic and even very Western ideas regarding urban planning. In 1976 Macklin Hancock, Canadian planner and head of consultancy Project Planning Associates Ltd (PPAL), produced the blueprint for the new city, commissioned by the Capital Development Authority in close cooperation with Nyerere himself. Remarkably the plan, which focuses on modern, individual needs like a comfortable family life and a private car, is almost the exact opposite of the African farming town Nyerere envisioned. In addition, due to burning ambitions regarding matters such as housing quality, infrastructure and a brand new city centre, it was so expensive to realize that precisely this plan became extremely dependent on foreign funding. And it is also likely that international politics, government interference and – as a result, opposing ideologies – have never before influenced the planning of a city to this extent. As an urban prestige project, it managed to generate the interest of numerous international bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations, foreign banks and political leaders as well as acquire considerable sums of money, perhaps as a result of the 3.  Capital Development Authority: Blueprint for Dodoma, Report and Accounts 2 / 1974-75, National Printing Company Dar es Salaam.

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Dodoma city centre 2011

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indigenous, authentic intentions underlying it. As an urban project, the city attracted the attention of planners and architects from Canada, Europe and the USA, but the local urban development apparatus also collaborated with consultants from India, Pakistan and Australia. A socialist project, it took its ideology from Maoist China, but it also flirted with Western democratic values and the associated ideals regarding progress and efficiency. This type of opportunism (or, in neutral terms, this mix of ideals, values and opportunities from different corners of the world) also played a part in Zanzibar, presented elsewhere in this book. However, while Karume had brought in East German planners to create Zanzibar’s new ‘capital’, Nyerere had a more democratic, more Western variant of socialism in mind.4 This chapter examines the following questions: How does Julius Nyerere’s ideal of a socialist agricultural state relate to the urban plan for Dodoma, the built symbol of the new state? What were the intentions of Hancock and his team with regard to the new city, did they merely follow their own agendas, driven by the conviction that their contributions would be good ones? And what is the current impact of the Canadian master plan on the present-day city? These are relevant questions given the fact that although the plan was never fully realized, an updated version of it is still the guiding document for future urban development. Another essential point that this story would raise, therefore, is this: Does the master plan – more than 40 years later – still reflect the current state of the city, which in the meantime has become larger, denser, many times more varied and complex than its official blueprint prescribed? A city that, with nearly 500,000 inhabitants, faces structural problems regarding housing, infrastructure and basic facilities?5

A SUBURB IN THE SAVANNAH Visiting Dodoma feels like journeying to the end of the world. The remote, midsized city in the desolate Tanzanian interior with its dusty, provincial atmosphere is in stark contrast with its capital status. The two or three single-engine planes that fly there weekly from Dar es Salaam do so primarily either for the benefit of government officials who travel there for parliamentary sessions, or for that of the few curious tourists who can afford it. If the government is in recess, the eight-seat plane is rarely full. Then Dodoma is nothing but a stop-over where, in consultation with its occupants, the plane

4.  Though Zanzibar has officially been part of Tanzania since 1964, it has an autonomous status with its own president and election system. 5.  This estimation of the population is based on the last census of 2002, multiplied by the annual growth rate of 3.3 per cent used for Dodoma by the National Bureau of Statistics Tanzania, www.nbs.go.tz.

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may or may not land. I discovered as much during my second visit to the city, when a friend arranged for me to travel by plane. I was one of only five passengers on the tiny Coastal Aviation plane. It was the first and very probably the last time in my life that I had a plane land just for me, only to take off immediately after dropping me off. It is more common to journey across many kilometres of asphalt, or by rail from Dar es Salaam. The railway was constructed as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, by the Germans who ruled the country from 1890 to 1919. From Dar, the trip to Dodoma is quite an enterprise. The route across the savannah, its endless plains covered with low bushes and majestic Baobab trees, is interrupted only by a single, small town (Morogoro) and appears to lead to nowhere. Until, after about eight hours, the image of an inhabited plain looms up, a sea of houses seemingly submerged in the red sand. Here, in the dryer and cooler interior, nothing is reminiscent of the traffic and stifling crowds of the cosmopolitan Dar es Salaam. Although Dodoma has been on the books as the official capital since 1992, it lacks metropolitan allure. All government buildings including all ministries are still in Dar es Salaam, except one parliamentary building. To those who know nothing of the grandiose plans that were made for it, the city looks like an ordinary, nondescript African town, a place like many others. Not much more than a stop-over in the middle of nowhere, a dot on the route from Dar es Salaam to Lake Tanganyika, and part of the Pan African Highway that traverses the entire continent. In the middle of the country, indeed: but far away from everything.

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The city centre is friendly and calm. The wide asphalt roads and roundabouts ensure a pleasant ride. Along them there are still some churches from the colonial period, the tallest buildings in the city. Grocers trade in the dusty, unpaved streets of the old districts. Inside a large, covered market hall, local farmers sell their produce. The suburban avenues of Area C and Area D just north of the city centre contrast strongly with this calmly throbbing, informal city centre. These districts – their prosaic names a literal reminder of their planning backgrounds – were built in the 1970s almost exactly according to the Canadian master plan. Walking around here feels funny. The spacious, winding lanes ending in cul-de-sacs and lined by thick trees planted at equal distances are reminiscent of American suburbs. The occasional car passes on the wide roads, some of them once intended as bus lanes. The richer part of the population, mostly civil servants employed by the local government, lives in brick terraced houses built around communal areas. That the houses in Area C were built for them can still be deduced from the mark ‘CDA’ above the front doors: an abbreviation of Capital Development Authority, the urban development agency that was responsible for the planning of the capital at the time (and still is). The dwellings in this ‘CDA Estate’, as the locals call it,


Duka’s in Area C (2009)

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are sturdy and spacious, clearly Western, but evidencing inadequate or even non-existent maintenance. Laundry is hanging out to dry behind the fences; there are cars parked in front of some of the houses. Scattered throughout the neighbourhoods, in the residual spaces between the designated areas, forms of small-scale urban agriculture and cattle breeding have evolved: vegetable gardens with millet plants, a group of goats, a single cow. Large voids mark the centre of the district, areas once intended as collective recreational greens but now open, sandy plains where children play. The many dukas, self-built kiosks that serve as bars or barbershops or sell vegetables or fruit, clearly demonstrate that this is not America. They are unplanned and have sprung up along the avenues over time, near T-junctions and open spaces, but also in the middle of residential courtyards, or simply as an extension to a house, protruding through the fence. Even this sleepy piece of suburb has managed to absorb the typical African atmosphere. A little further down, the ‘real’ city resurfaces: where the asphalt ends and the sand begins,


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the streets are narrower and the houses smaller. The model neighbourhood Kikuyu on the south side of the city seems deserted. The fact that the master plan stranded before it could actually be realized is hard to miss here. The roads and apartment complexes end halfway through, replaced by small self-built houses and farms; here, the sandy paths begin again. Here, the plan ends. But like in any rapidly growing city, which Dodoma is, there are also new developments. Around the former party office on Chimwaga hill, 8 km east of the centre, a brand new university campus is being built. A handful of students walk along the unblemished asphalt past blazing white buildings. Other educational institutions are also being developed, like the agricultural school in the north of the city and the College for Business Education in the centre. The newest apartment complexes will be built close by, meant for parliamentarians. A little further down, but on the other side of the track, on the site PPAL’s prototype houses (‘CDA Estate’) in 2009 of the once-planned National Capital Centre (NCC), the first buildings are in the construction phase. American architect James Rossant (known for his master plan for the New Town of Reston, USA) designed the NCC in the early 1980s as a huge mall. The plans were shelved for over 30 years, but now it looks as if they are going to be realized after all. All in all, these developments, along with all these layers of relatively young history, make today’s Dodoma a curious mix of ‘Western’ suburban dwelling types and old and new self-built Swahili houses, combined with colonial architecture and more recently, exotically designed institutions. At first glance, Dodoma appears to have nothing to do with the visionary collective farming town outlined by President Nyerere, or even with a full-fledged capital. The planned neighbourhoods seem to have more in common with the capitalist suburbs – focused on individual life, built primarily for the wealthier middle class – they are supposed to be a reaction against. How could this city come about? And what does it still have to do with the ideals that once formed the reason for its existence? 648


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UJAMAA: TOWARDS A SELF-SUPPORTING SOCIALIST STATE When Dodoma was designated as the location for the new capital in 1973, the nation led by President Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922-1999) had already been independent for more than a decade. When, under the leadership of Nyerere, the Tanzanian mainland, then called Tanganyika, became independent of Britain in 1961, the whole nation immediately recognized and embraced him as its liberator.6 In previous years, he had been a conspicuous figure in national politics as the founder and leader of the TANU (Tanganyika African National Union), and as such, he had bloodlessly and

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6.  Mainland Tanzania was a German colony from 1884 to 1919 (German East Africa), but came under British authority in 1919.


Some of Nyerere’s wide range of publications, papers and pamphlets

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almost single-handedly steered the country towards independence.7 8 Nyerere was charismatic and eloquent, and he radiated wisdom and sincerity. He soon became immensely popular abroad as well, not only because of his original ideas and passionate rhetoric, but also because of his honest, modest bearing. He did not enrich himself (at least not openly), his lifestyle was sober and he consistently emphasized that sobriety – even poverty – was an essential part of his country’s identity. His image thus contrasted sharply with the prevailing image of African leaders, especially among Westerners, fuelled as that was by the activities of dictatorial and extravagant figures like Haile Selassie (Ethiopia) or Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana). Unlike these as well as unlike most other world leaders, Nyerere was an intellectual (historian Martin Meredith called Nyerere the most influential African thinker of his time); a preacher who called for civilization.9 He was one of the first Africans to study abroad – he studied history and political economy at the University of Edinburgh – and Westerners found him civilized, familiar and comfortable to be around, something that would help him generate a significant amount of foreign aid throughout his career.10 His early career as a secondary school teacher, something he himself always emphasized as an elemental part of his being, strongly influenced his image and earned him the lifelong affectionate nickname Mwalimu – Swahili for teacher. Both Nyerere’s personality and his reform politics aimed at a collective self-sustaining state under the banner of Ujamaa are the basis for the independent Tanzania, and the foundation for the new city of Dodoma. As a policy for a new Tanzanian society and economy, Ujamaa was unique and distinctly African. The untranslatable word Ujamaa (‘familyhood’ comes closest) had a concrete goal: ‘the development of forms of economic activity which encourage collective and co-operative efforts.’11 However as a philosophy, which is essentially what is is, Ujamaa entailed much more. It referred to the traditional African form of cohabitation, to the extended farming family, and implied a revolutionary cultural U-turn, with people adopting a collective way of life in which everyone had to participate voluntarily. Crucial to Ujamaa was the concept of self-reliance, which referred to the new Tanzanian approach, following its own lead, without outside diktat or help. In the early years of his presidency, Nyerere developed his theories in various essays and speeches, and on 5 February 1967 he declared his national policy. This

7.  In 1977, the TANU merged with the Afro Shirazi Party (ASP) of Zanzibar into an integral party for the whole of Tanzania called Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), meaning as much as ‘the revolutionary party’. Though Tanzania is no longer a one-party state today, CCM remains the most important (largest) political party. 8.  What did much to help the rapid unification of Tanzania into a coherent nation is that the differences between the tribes were smaller than in other countries, such as Nigeria, and that everyone spoke the same language (Swahili). This furthered the general recognition of the person Nyerere, mutual communication and the dissemination of Nyerere’s ideology. 9.  Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (London: Free Press, 2006).

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10.  He was the first Tanzanian to study at a British university, and the second to earn a university degree outside of Africa. See: www.juliusnyerere.info. 11.  J.K. Nyerere, ‘The Arusha Declaration’, 5 February 1967.


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important event in Tanzanian history is known as the Arusha Declaration. 12 With his policy, Nyerere wanted to strengthen Tanzanian traditions and optimally use and develop indigenous resources to modernize his country. He intended to reform the country without using the ‘Western’ technology that was exotic to Africa, so in keeping with its own nature. This was an unusual strategy. The new leaders of most other African countries chose to follow the industrialization trail, thinking it the best road to real independence and assuming that they would thus overcome the set colonial trade patterns between Africa and the Western economies.13 Nyerere, however, felt that industry, polluting factories, compact cities with expensive road construction and energy consuming high-rises had nothing to do with the essence of Tanzanian culture. They equalled waste (due to high costs) and exploitation (of the farmers who did not benefit from the cities). These two concepts were associated with the period that now lay behind it. Machinery and modern technology could be used, as long as they were not ends in themselves and were used for the greater good: the grassroots development of the country (literally ‘the soil’, but also in a broad sense, ‘the nation’). It is therefore fair to describe Nyerere’s policy as not only very spatial, but also explicitly anti-urban. In the Arusha Declaration, he says:

The people who benefit directly from development which is brought about by borrowed money are not the ones who will repay the loans. The largest proportion of the loans will be spent in, or for, the urban areas. But the largest proportion of the repayment will be made through the efforts of the farmers. Thus, he concluded: ‘People who live in towns can possibly become the exploiters of those who live in the rural areas.’14 This anti-urban philosophy would have a major impact on the plan for Dodoma, and it is also one of the reasons why Ebenezer Howard’s model for a Garden City (in a sense also anti-urban), on which the Canadians based their design, seemed to match this New Town so beautifully.15

12.  In full: ‘The Arusha Declaration and TANU’s Policy on Socialism and Self Reliance’. The five points of the Arusha Declaration are: (1) Social Equality, (2) Ujamaa, (3) Self-reliance; (4) Economic and social transformation; and (5) African Economic Integration. 13.  Martin Meredith, ‘The Birth of Nations’, in: Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 9), 144. 14.  J.K. Nyerere, ‘The Arusha Declaration’, 5 February 1967. 15.  The idea of self-autarky, in the form of a self-supporting settlement in the ‘countryside’ is exactly what Howard had in mind for his Garden City.

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Nyerere was far from alone, however, in choosing socialism as the counterpart to colonial capitalism. At the time, many other African leaders chose the same path, it being the most obvious political ideology and one that suited Africa well at that. Not only because it was the refreshing opposite of the capitalism that had made Africa so dependent upon the West, but also because of the prevailing idea that African culture traditionally bore many socialist aspects within it, such as communal land ownership, the egalitarian character of village life, collective decision-making, extensive social networks and the associated social control.16 Additionally, due to the developments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, many African leaders considered socialism a promising alternative with regard to the realization of self-supporting welfare states. Compared to other African countries Tanzania was different, because here socialism was not developed industrially but rurally, and based on traditional cohabitation patterns and agricultural and cattle breeding techniques. Falling back on that which connected all Tanzanians, a shared history and culture, Nyerere tried to forge a new identity, across all tribal differences and their mutual relations. At the same time, Ujamaa broke with the status quo: it was a new ideology that focused on a transformation of the countryside into a cooperative agricultural society, using new technology and modern means of production. This also involved the implementation of a new settlement pattern, consisting of cooperative and self-supporting villages, spread evenly across the country. All means of production were nationalized, as were the banks. Thus Ujamaa offered a vision of a new, modernized economy and society, with an emancipated population, that would allow Tanzania to play a new, important role on the world stage.

THE GLOBAL ROOTS OF AN INDIGENOUS LIFESTYLE POLICY Ujamaa, however, was not as original and indigenous as it may sound. Although it was indeed a unique theory, a product of Nyerere’s intellect and personal experiences, it clearly contained foreign roots that were linked – directly or indirectly – to the two opposing ideologies prevalent at the time: that of the first world, capitalism, and that of the second world, represented by communism.17 Nyerere stressed more than once that neither the capitalist nor the communist system was suitable for Africa and that Africans were something in between, ‘communitary’ is what he called it in Time

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16.  Meredith, ‘The Birth of Nations’, op. cit. (note 13), 145. 17.  Nyerere was the son of a Zanaki chief. The Zanaki society Nyerere grew up in was, as he said: ‘perfectly democratic and egalitarian’ and for that reason, among others, a major source of inspiration for his Ujamaa ideology. Source: Viktoria Stoger-Eising, Ujamaa Revisited; Indigenous and European Influences in Nyerere’s Social and Political Thought (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000).


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Magazine in 1960.18 He said: ‘Both are rooted in our past, in the traditional society that produced us.’19 He thought both political ideologies had elements that he gladly adopted because they were intrinsically present in African society – while having too many disadvantages in their pure form. Ujamaa, he claimed, was opposed to capitalism, which is based on ‘the exploitation of man by man’, but also against dogmatic socialism, which aims to build a society based on ‘the inevitable conflict between man and man’.20 Thus Ujamaa represented a third way, a synthesis of that which Africa traditionally bore within itself combined with the best of its colonial legacy. Based on the collectivization of production, Ujamaa had points in common with the (otherwise much more dictatorial) great social experiments in its recent history: the large-scale reorganization of farming into collective farms under Joseph Stalin and, more directly, with the peasant communes that were part of Mao’s Great Leap Forward in China. With his statements, whose neutrality for that matter was typical of many African leaders during the Cold War, Nyerere stressed time and again that he would not participate in any worldwide conflict. And although he and his contagious idealism gave the impression of actually standing above such things, his neutral stance also proved an effective means to remain on good terms with both worlds. Sometimes wearing a tie, sometimes a kofia (a Swahili cap also worn by Muslims, which he wore though he was a deeply religious Christian), but more often in his favourite Maoist uniform, he was the photogenic centre of meetings with John F. Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle and just about every European monarch available, while he was repeatedly entertained by prominent Marxists including Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro as well.21 Throughout his presidential term, he was seen maintaining warm relations with both sides, though he gradually developed an ever stronger bond with the Communists, especially with China. The most visible symbol of the warm relations between China and Tanzania is the TAZARA, the TanzaniaZambia Railway that was built and paid for entirely by the People’s Republic of China between 1970 and 1975. The railway was Mao’s largest 18.  ‘The African is not “communistic” in his thinking; he is – if I may coin an expression – “communitary”.’ J.K. Nyerere as quoted in New York Times Magazine, [27 March] 1960. See: http://africanhistory.about.com. 19.  J.K. Nyerere, Freedom and Unity (Uhuru na Umoja): Essays on Socialism (London/Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1967). 20.  J.K. Nyerere, Freedom and Socialism (Uhuru na Ujamaa) (Dar es Salaam/New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), as quoted in: Bonny Ibhawoh and J. I. Dibua, ‘Deconstructing Ujamaa: The Legacy of Julius Nyerere in the Quest for Social and Economic Development in Africa’, African Journal of Political Science, vol. 8 (2003) no. 1. 21.  This ‘Mao-uniform’ was called the ‘Kaunda-suit’ in Tanzania, after the president of Zambia (source: Antoni Folkers).

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Nyerere (clockwise) on Time Magazine, with Queen Elizabeth, Chinese Prime minister Chou En-Lai, Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong.

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aid project at the time and brought China to the attention of many other African countries, not only as a political partner but as a trading partner as well.22 On the construction of the railway, Nyerere said at the time:

All the money in this world is either Red or Blue. I do not have my own Green money, so where can I get some from? I am not taking a Cold War position. All I want is money to build it. 23

No matter how much doubt was cast on Nyerere’s ‘neutral’ position between the East and the West, the statement is a good illustration of his opportunistic quest for the development aid to build up his country, if nothing else. Today, the construction of the TAZARA is considered the start of a long-term ‘friendship’ between Tanzania and China, which still persists. Mao’s influence is also evident in Ujamaa’s main manifestation, the Ujamaa Villagization Programme, which is particularly reminiscent of the large-scale land reform programmes that were part of the Great Leap Forward a decade earlier. The Great Leap Forward had entailed the disappearance of independent farms and the merger of communities that had been tilling the same land for generations into newly established people’s communes that were spread across the country like a patchwork quilt. During several of Nyerere’s 1960s state visits to China, the Chinese model inspired him due to its rigorous reorganization of the production system. Despite their massive failure, Mao’s grand plans fired the imagination of this African country with its scarce technological resources and its eagerness to develop.24 At the time, a major difference between Mao’s experiments in the Great Leap Forward on the one hand and Nyerere’s Ujamaa on the other was that the Chinese precedents were huge, extremely artificial and overly dictatorial plans in contrast to the much more gentle, naive easiness that, at least initially, characterized Nyerere’s philosophy. Unfortunately, however, the Chinese and Tanzanian programmes would gradually come to bear a greater resemblance to

22.  The 1,860-km-long railway was built for the purpose of exporting Zambian copper to the Indian Ocean. Ousman Murzik Kobo, ‘A New World Order? Africa and China’, Origins, vol. 6, ([May] 2013), no. 8. See: http://origins.osu.edu/article/new-world-order-africa-and-china. 23.  [PRO, DO183/730, From Dar es Salaam to CRO, No. 1089, 3 July 1965], as quoted in: Alicia Altorfer-Ong, Tanzanian ‘Freedom’ and Chinese ‘Friendship’ in 1965: Laying the Tracks for the TanZam Rail Link (London: London School of Economics and Political Science, 2009). 24.  Kobo, ‘A New World Order?’, op. cit. (note 22).

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each other, and eventually Ujamaa would, at least in terms of its effect on agriculture and the economy, become one of the largest failed experiments in African history.25 26

THE UJAMAA VILLAGIZATION PROGRAMME As I mentioned earlier, Ujamaa had a distinctly spatial side. Geographer Garth Myers even characterizes it as ‘one of the most significant “alternative visions” or urbanism and human settlement that has emerged from postcolonial Africa.’27 The Ujamaa Villagization Programme is the most important instrument of Nyerere’s policy by far. As a national housing programme, it laid the foundation for the Ujamaa-city Dodoma. In the Ujamaa villages, ‘people would live and work together for the benefit of all’ and there would therefore be ‘no exploitation of man by man’.28 The new, cooperative villages that were to be built were presented as derivatives of traditional African villages, but slightly larger and especially many times more structured and readable. To make the villages function in a comparable manner (to be able to administratively monitor them), the government provided the spatial standards for their construction.29 These ‘designs’, or rather layout plans, feature the rigid, somewhat geometric layout of houses clustered around a communal open space with facilities.30 Depending on the core business of the village it included a factory or administrative offices.31 Each cluster was a so-called TANU cell or ten-unit cell, the political basic element of each village consisting of about ten families represented by a TANU member who oversaw the village and collected taxes. The cell system made it possible to expand the village according to need.32

25.  Interesting in this regard is the insight of James Scott, who points out the striking similarities between the Ujamaa Villagization Progamme and the way the earlier colonial rulers organized agricultural development in East Africa. There are, therefore, more relevant influences to be found than merely the indigenous qualities of Tanzanian settlement on the one hand and the rhetoric of the Eastern and Western blocks respectively on the other. See James C. Scott, ‘Compulsory Villagization in Tanzania: Aesthetics and Miniaturization’, in: Seeing Like a State; How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, (London: Yale University Press, 1998), 223-261. 26.  Regarding the legacy of Ujamaa, B. Ibhawoh and J. Dibua distinguish two schools of thought. The first (critical) school focuses on the effects on agriculture and the economy in broad terms, which it felt were severely disrupted under Ujamaa as it encouraged corruption and was therefore very harmful to the development of the country. The second (more optimistic) school, on the other hand, argues that, apart from the economic effects that in its view were actually ‘modest’, Ujamaa indeed achieved successes in the field of social welfare: education and health care as well as social equality and harmony among ethnic groups in the country and political stability have made tremendous progress thanks to Nyerere. See Ibhawoh and Dibua, Deconstructing Ujamaa, op. cit. (note 20), 70-71. 27.  Garth Myers, African Cities: Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practice (London: Zed Books, 2011), 43-69. 28.  TANU, The Arusha Declaration and TANU’s Policy on Socialism and Self-Reliance (Dar es Salaam, 1967). The quotes are TANU slogans that can also be found in Nyerere’s treatises and publications, such as J. Nyerere: Freedom and Socialism / Uhuru nu Ujamaa (Dar es Salaam, 1968), and Socialism and Rural Development / Ujamaa Vijijini (plaats, datum). 29.  There is abundant literature on Ujamaa and the village programmes. Often these are assessments of the progress of successive village programmes at various locations in the country. Good visual material and in particular a spatial representation of the way in which these villages were organized, however, is scarce. It seems that rather than one particular scheme for an Ujamaa village, different village schemes were made over the years (by different local governments, in various locations in the country, and in successive years). 30.  The Igagala Tobacco Scheme plan gives an impression of the top-down implemented Ujamaa settlement pattern. Another example shows an aerial view of the settlement of Babati, a village 100 km south of Arusha. Here, the rational, systematic layout of the village (consisting of typical Swahili houses with courtyards) is still clearly visible. 31.  Marion Gout, De ontwikkeling van Ujamaa dorpen in Tanzania, dissertation (Rotterdam: Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics / Workgroup Study Trips Developing Countries (WSO), 1978).

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32.  A major Ujamaa reform was the implementation of a structured village school system, providing compulsory education for children (and indeed adults) – an innovation that would later be recognized as one of Nyerere’s greatest achievements for his country. See J. Boesen and A.T. Mohele, ‘Ujamaa, “Tobacco Complexes”, and Villagization’, in: The ‘Success Story’ of Peasant Tobacco Production in Tanzania (Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1979).


Schematic layout for an Ujamaa village (Igagala Tobacco Scheme) and the village house prototype as offered by the World Bank

Hypothetical villages in Dodoma district

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Although they were presented as an extension of traditional farming life, the Ujamaa villages were – with regard to settlement pattern, way of life, agricultural production – altogether different.33 In his dissertation on the effect of a number of Ujamaa housing programmes, Tanzanian architect and researcher Livin Mosha explains how these villages broke with traditional society patterns, work practices and construction methods. For the traditional ‘village’ was (and is) a circular compound with self-built houses (huts) for various generations of the extended family built around a corral or surrounded by agricultural land – as a self-producing unit. But the modernized, simplified version (at least according to the Ujamaa programmes investigated by Mosha) consisted of straight grids of houses, each on its own plot, and at some distance from the communal agricultural land. The crucial difference is that this physically separates living and working. Moreover, where the traditional villages were scattered over the land, the Ujamaa villages were evenly spaced and oriented towards the public road.34 The cornerstones of economy and society, each village had to pay state tax (like the collective farms in the Soviet Union). According to this concept, the national economy was supposed to function like a single, large, cooperative agricultural machine. This was not just Nyerere’s way to get a grip on the population (‘to catch the peasantry’, as Göran Hydén phrases it),35 but also a way to give it something in return. According to Nyerere, implementing largescale village programmes was the only way to provide

33.  Scott thought the modern Ujamaa village broke with the traditional rural village in every respect and called it: ‘a point-by-point negation of existing rural practice, which included shifting cultivation and pastorialism; polycropping; living well off the main roads; kinship and lineage authority; small scattered settlements with houses built higgledy-piggledy; and production that was dispersed and opaque to the state.’ Scott, ‘Compulsory Villagization in Tanzania’, op. cit. (note 25), 239.

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34.  Livin Mosha, Architecture and Policies; The Transformation of Rural Dwelling Compounds and the impact of Ujamaa Villagisation and the Nyumba Bora Housing Campaign in Missungwi – Tanzania. Thesis submitted as partial fulfilment for the degree of Doctorate in Architecture (Leuven: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2005). 35.  Göran Hydén, Beyond Ujamaa; Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured Peasantry (stad: uitgever, 1980), quoted in: Scott, Seeing Like a State, op. cit. (note 25), 229.


(clockwise) Traditional circular dwelling compounds, a traditional Tembe (typical Tanzanian house type), and Livin Mosha’s sketches of traditional (pre-Ujamaa’) compounds

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every village with tractors, schools and hospitals, and thus to turn the entire country into a modern welfare state. It was a top-down plan to modernize and emancipate its inhabitants from the bottom up, as it were. Essential to the idea of Ujamaa, at least in theory, is the voluntariness that it was based on: initially, the villages were not forced upon the population, which was supposed to found them on their own initiative. In the Arusha Declaration, Nyerere said:

‘Ujamaa villages are intended to be socialist organizations created by the people, and governed by those who live and work in them. They cannot be created from outside, nor governed from outside.’ 36

At first, therefore, Nyerere (unlike Mao) used persuasion rather than force to realize his vision, thinking that the success of the first villages would spark spontaneous growth. The grouping of people in newly founded villages was fiercely propagated. In the heyday of the Ujamaa Villagization Programme, TANU representatives traveled across the country to encourage the population (mostly living in villages and hamlets) to establish new villages, orally and through the distribution of pamphlets. The object was to rearrange existing villages, as it were, to create new ones. A large part of the government budgets for rural development were squandered on this.37 The standardized houses to assemble the villages were provided for free, funded by the World Bank. Characteristically, such houses are made of solid local materials and efficiently equipped. Size- and shape-wise, they were much larger than the pre-Ujamaa African homes the vast majority of Tanzanians lived in at the time.

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36.  J.K. Nyerere, The Arusha Declaration: A Declaration Outlining Tanzania’s Policy on Socialism and Self-Reliance (1967). [Bron checken op jaartal (tekst ook al eerder verschenen in Freedom and Development?)] 37.  Boesen and Mohele, ‘Ujamaa, “Tobacco Complexes”, and Villagization’, op. cit. (note 32).


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THOUSANDS OF NEW VILLAGES AND A NEW CAPITAL The philosophy underlying the Ujamaa Villagization Programme was grafted on ideas about the small scale and collective voluntariness, focusing as it did on local and natural communities. Each village had to be built from the bottom up. Ideally, people from different tribes, each with their own traditions and customs, would mix in a natural way. Eventually, however, the ‘small scale’ and imposed ‘voluntariness’ of Ujamaa resulted in a very large-scale, artificial and thus megalomaniac plan indeed. It actually was from the very start – all of society and the entire economy had to be reorganized in a transparent manner, by means of a huge and artificial plan that pretended to be small-scale and natural. In the end, Ujamaa was also a means to get a grip on a population who until then had completely evaded all public scrutiny or even supervision.38 But the manner in which this was to be achieved according to Nyerere gradually became more aggressive. The population’s resistance gradually increased as well: as it turned out, it was not so easy to uproot and mix people from different families or tribes. In the early 1970s, it became clear that the rate at which the villages were being established was quite disappointing. Yes, the several thousand villages that were registered in the early 1970s had been established in a spontaneous, voluntary manner.39 But those were mainly villages that had already existed, and in which groups had decided to collaborate and register themselves as Ujamaa villages to become eligible for government subsidies to buy agricultural machinery.40 In other cases, the residents themselves adapted the villages to form a system of units according to the principle of the TANU cell. Per unit, or number of units together, they reserved a piece of land for joint agriculture or cattle breeding. The people naturally resisted being relocated, and when in addition a growing economic downturn began to ravage the country, Nyerere decided to hurry his plans along. He got impatient and introduced a radical change of course in 1973: from that moment on, living in an Ujamaa village was compulsory for everyone. The once crucial voluntariness was transformed into a national command. People were now forced to move (sometimes their old villages were even burnt down), while those who did not cooperate were in danger of being imprisoned.41 Weak

38.  In the early 1960s, Tanzania was home to 11 to 12 million farmers – most of them subsistence farmers – scattered across the country. See Scott, Seeing Like a State, op. cit. (note 25), 229. 39.  It is hard to say how many Ujamaa villages were founded in those early days, because existing villages that made some adjustments also ended up in the books as officially earmarked Ujamaa villages; relevant sources report widely varying data. Martin Meredith reports 5,000 villages in 1973, with a total of 2 million residents (15 per cent of the population), see Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 9). The number of surviving Ujamaa villages today is unknown. 40.  See Boesen and Mohele, ‘Ujamaa, “Tobacco Complexes”, and Villagization’, op. cit. (note 32). 41.  Various sources.

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economy or not, this would become the largest mass migration in African history.42 This dictatorial decision, which actually negated the entire Ujamaa concept, is generally regarded as Nyerere’s biggest mistake. Later, when he resigned his presidency, he would recognize this. It is against this background that the planning of Dodoma took place. Not incidentally, that same year (1973, the year of Nyerere’s change of course) saw the decision to build a new capital. It seems a somewhat hasty decision; a final trump card that the president decided to play despite the poor economic conditions – or perhaps even because of them, with an impending crisis close on his heels. In line with the principles of Ujamaa, the new city would be a kind of supersized Ujamaa village, a head village in the middle of the unfolding village landscape. Dodoma was a former colonial settlement at the time, a town with approximately 40,000 inhabitants, most of them belonging to the local Gogo tribe. The decision to make Dodoma the new capital was not entirely unexpected. It was an old idea that had even been suggested by the Germans at one time, but that had always been abandoned at the last minute because of the costliness of the operation.43 The reasons Dodoma was time and again considered the ‘ideal’ location for a new capital was simple: it was geographically in the middle of the country, at a junction of national routes, and there was enough space for future growth. Furthermore, Dar es Salaam increasingly suffered from big city problems – congestion and limited expansion opportunities coupled with rapid growth – which made it clear that the pressure there needed some easing. Given the Ujamaa context, the location of Dodoma became even more obvious: as it was situated in the rural interior, it could serve most of the (poor) rural population. The fact that its climate is dry and its soil conditions moderate were apparently considered less important (or were considered to be ‘repairable’). The local rural conditions were the most underdeveloped in the country – partly due to climatic and geographical conditions – and the new city was thus an opportunity to elevate the ideals of Ujamaa to a national scale: a mancentred city, created for and by farmers. The relocation of the government centre from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma was to be realized in the not too distant future: within a tenyear period.44

42.  A total of about six million people were displaced in a short period of time. See Daniel T. Osabu-Kle, Compatible Cultural Democracy: The Key to Development in Africa (Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2000), 171-173. Martin Meredith reports a total of 11 million people in the period between 1973 and 1977, see: Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 9).

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43.  Nyerere announced his decision on 1 October 1973, at the 16th TANU party conference. See Capital Development Authority, ‘How Dodoma Became Tanzania’s Capital’, in: Dodoma; 1: Reports & Accounts (Dar es Salaam: Capital Development Authority, 1974), 6. 44.  Ibid.


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To achieve this, Nyerere immediately established two new bodies: the Ministry of Capital Development (MCD) as well as an executive department, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Dodoma itself.45 The MCD chairman was Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa. As a Minister of State, Sapi supervised the planning at the national level, together with Nyerere himself. Heading the CDA in Dodoma was George Kahama. Just one year later the master plan was ready, and in July 1976 construction began in accordance with the first five-year plan.46

LEARNING FROM OTHERS In line with Ujamaa principles, the new city was to symbolize Tanzanian identity, the pièce de résistance of the Ujamaa Villagization Programme. Just like the newly established Tanzania was not supposed to copy existing political systems and economic models, the new capital likewise was not supposed to resemble existing cities. Yet – and this is understandable given the immense complexity of the task – every opportunity to learn from others was seized with both hands. There was actually no alternative: apart from the fact that building a (capital) city happens to be a complicated matter and therefore requires external advice, Tanzania at that time suffered a comprehensive lack of home-trained professionals. In the years that followed, CDA and MCD members flew all over the world to visit cities, seeking advice on how to build them – not only with regard to the physical design, but also to planning and the administrative apparatus. Immediately after their installation as chairmen of the major urban planning authorities, Sapi and Kahama visited three planned capitals: Lilongwe (Malawi), Islamabad (Pakistan) and Chandigarh (India). Kahama also accompanied Nyerere on state visits to other countries, including Australia and China. Other CDA members visited various New Town projects worldwide, for instance in Pakistan, Australia, the USA and Britain.47, 48 The visits provided an opportunity to learn about organization, management and the financial machinery behind them as well as about urban planning aspects, landscape, transportation systems and architectural techniques. Contacts were established with other National Development Departments, more specifically with

45.  The name Capital Development Authority was probably taken from the planning authorities of the same name that were responsible for the construction of the capitals Abuja (Nigeria) and Islamabad (Pakistan). 46.  Capital Development Authority, ‘Some Capital Milestones’, in: Building the National Capital 1978, a special report to mark the first anniversary of the founding of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Dar es Salaam: Capital Development Authority, 1978), 16. 47.  Capital Development Authority, Report for the year 1974: ‘Information Gathering’, in: Dodoma; 1: Reports & Accounts, op. cit. (note 43), 20. 48.  Further instances of New Town visits: George Kahama and Peter Shayo (director of the CDA Physical and Social Planning department) conducted a study into the public transport systems of the New Town Runcorn (UK). This was a phenomenon in the Western world at the time; the planners of Almere (NL) did the same, which resulted in bus lanes in the Netherlands. The management services manager, R.M. Whitcombe, and the project control officer, M. Kagya, visited America to study project control systems, budgetary systems and community development projects devised by the Howard Research and Development Corporation at Columbia New Town. See Capital Development Authority, ‘Building up the CDA: Learning from Others’, in: Blueprint for Dodoma, op. cit. (note 3), 30-31.

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their technical and financial departments, which resulted in valuable guidelines for the design process.49 Conversely, many foreign planners and consultants were brought to Dodoma. As early as October 1973, three foreign firms were commissioned to make rough designs for the new city.50 In addition to the Canadian PPAL, these were Doxiadis Associates International from Greece and Engineering Consulting Firms Association from Japan.51 It is interesting to consider why these firms CDA Delegation visits Islamabad new town, Pakistan in particular were asked to submit design proposals. Remarkably, these were highly technocratic companies, specialized in planning consultancy and engineering, something that is difficult to explain in hindsight, given the humanistic, edifying and rural ambitions behind the new city. The design proposals were assessed by a team of independent consultants together with members of the CDA. The background of the three – American – consultants is also remarkable: a consultant of global management consulting firm Arthur D. Little & Co (initially specialized in technology consultancy), and two professors from the University of Pennsylvania.52 Like the designers they assessed, the consultants had a technical background, focused on business strategy, development and technology. It is inevitable that the business-like, ‘cool’ focus of the designers and the jury was miles away from Nyerere’s much more ‘warm’ focus on the social-democratic ideal he wanted to realize with the creation of Dodoma. Efficiency, logistics and targets faced ideals relating to unity, family and equality. This is one of the most fascinating issues surrounding the planning of Dodoma, and a phenomenon true of numerous other New Towns in this book. Although the final plan for Dodoma by Hancock and his associates is not as rational as, say, the almost mathematical Ekistics by Doxiadis, once again the 49.  Capital Development Authority, Report for the year 1974: ‘Information Gathering’, op. cit. (note 47), 20. 50.  More specifically, the commission, for a proposal for a precise location in the vicinity of Dodoma as well as for a rough design, was given by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (at the time, the CDA and the MCD had not been installed yet). 51.  A fourth consultant, Planning and Development Consultants from Germany, also submitted a proposal – uninvited and without having visited Dodoma. See Capital Development Authority, ‘Selecting Consultants’, in: Dodoma; 1: Reports & Accounts, op. cit. (note 43), 19.

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52.  The consultants were R. Lacroix of Arthur D. Little & Co and prof. R. Mitchell and prof. T. Saaty of the University of Pennsylvania. See ibid. I have only been able to trace the personal background of prof. T. Saaty: an architect, theorist and mathematician attached at the time to the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania (sources: Wikipedia ‘Thomas. L. Saaty’ and Wikipedia ‘Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania’).


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choice of a rather business-like, generically universal urban plan turned out to be a perfect vehicle for the creation of a new (this time African postcolonial) society. The commission given to the firms is probably best described on the basis of Nyerere’s views. In the foreword to the master plan (1976), he wrote:

We have to build in a manner which is in our own means and which reflects our principles of human dignity and equality as well as our aspirations for our development. We have to take advantage of the opportunity to make Dodoma a good place in which to live and work, and to bring up children as good Tanzanians. The town must be integrated as a society as a whole, it must be neither an ivory tower, nor a new version of our existing towns. It must draw upon the lessons of other specially built cities throughout the world, but it must not be a copy of any of them. Dodoma must be a town which is built in simple style but with buildings which reflect the light, air, and space of Africa. It must reflect the future and there must be room to grow, but it must not be futuristic in the sense of passing and individualistic emotions. 53

This is the type of statement that, probably even more than the brief with its formal (fairly generic) basic principles, served as a handle for the firms that submitted design proposals.

53.  Foreword by J.K. Nyerere in: Project Planning Associates Limited, National Capital Master Plan Dodoma, Tanzania, prepared for the Capital Development Authority, United Republic of Tanzania, under the agreement dated 1 August 1974 (Toronto, Canada, May 1976).

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MACKLIN HANCOCK & PROJECT PLANNING ASSOCIATES In February 1974, the Canadian consultancy Project Planning Associates Ltd. of Toronto was selected as the new capital’s architect. The fact that PPAL and the Tanzanians were old friends probably influenced this choice. As early as 1967, the company had been the designer of an extension plan for the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, which had been a project initiated by the CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency).54 Although this plan was severely criticized at the time (especially because of the high costs and the continued existence of urban segregation, which was obviously not in line with socialist policy), PPAL was apparently considered fit to try again with regard to Dodoma.55 After all, the firm had already gained work

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54.  The CIDA recommended PPAL to the Tanzanian government because shortly before, PPAL had made the master plan for the Canadian city of Ottawa. Information from an email exchange between Kerstin and Gerry Walker (G. Walker was PPAL’s chief planner for the Dar es Salaam master plan), dated 11 March 2011. 55.  P. Siebolds and F. Steinberg, ‘Dodoma, a Future African Brasilia? Capitalist Town Planning and African Socialism’, Habitat International, vol. 5 (1981) no 5/6, 681-690.


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experience in Tanzania. So this was PPAL’s second ‘National Capital Master Plan’ for one and the same country, though for a completely different city.56 At the helm at PPAL was landscape architect and city planner Macklin Hancock (1925-2010). Hancock can be regarded as the Canadian importer (and important exporter) of the international Garden City concept. He had built Don Mills in 1953, a large Toronto suburb that was Canada’s first planned community.57 At the time, designing an independent urban district, surrounded by a green belt and within an orderly system of separate units grouped around a facility centre, in one go was a completely new concept for Canada. The success of Don Mills facilitated the further dissemination of the model, at first only in Canada, but soon beyond. Don Mills had been Hancock’s first project: as a 27-year-old Harvard landscaping student and university drop-out he, at the invitation of his father-in-law Karl Fraser (coincidentally the executive director of the Don Mills Development Company), designed its urban plan.58 He had no experience at all, but the classic examples of Walter Gropius (then a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design) and of designers Clarence Stein and Henry Wright were still fresh in his mind. Stein and Wright created the urban design for Radburn (1929) in New Jersey, for instance: the first American New Town. This was a very innovative and influential (and therefor much copied) urban plan at the time, inspired by Ebenezer Howard’s ideas about Garden Cities. The design for Radburn was the American epitome of Clarence Perry’s neighbourhood unit model and – very innovatively – suggested the separation of traffic types. The typical New Town features that were already present in Radburn – a hierarchical division into districts around a communal centre, separated traffic systems, the green belt – would be emphatically included in almost all of Hancock’s work in the course of his entire career.59 Characteristic of the design for Don Mills is the T-section. This typically suburban construction has roads that link up with the main route and either end in cul-de-sacs or make a loop, which results in the separation of through and local traffic. Another essential feature of Don Mills is the elementary school as the centre of each neighbourhood, often with the addition of other local facilities, such as a playground, hobby space and room for senior education. Both the T-section and the community 56.  It is not entirely clear why Nyerere initially (in 1967) saw Dar es Salaam as the capital, only to target Dodoma just a few years later (1973). It is clear, however, that in the early years of his presidency, full priority was given to the development of the villages, because a focus on village development (rather than urban development) was in line with Ujamaa. Therefore building a new capital automatically had lower priority, even though deliberations about it began in the early 1960s. I suspect the new capital project was given free rein later on, partly because the villages got off to a bad start and the Dar es Salaam master plan was faced with difficulties as well. 57.  Don Mills was a project of the development company of brewery magnate E.P. Taylor, who initially wanted to create a company town for his employees which, however, became a ‘normal’ urban development project later on. Due to its ‘Canada’s first New Town’ status, Don Mills has been listed as national heritage since 1997. 58.  See: www.donmillsfriends.org. 59.  Other influential teachers Hancock came into contact with as a post-graduate student were British architect and urban planner William Holford (among other things the president of the Royal Town Planning Institute 1953-1954), and American landscape architect Hideo Sasaki (chairman of the Harvard GSD department of landscape architecture at the time). See J. Sewell: ‘Don Mills: E.P. Taylor and Canada’s First Corporate Suburb’, in: James Lorimer and Evelyn Ross (eds.), The Second City Book: Studies of Urban and Suburban Canada (Toronto: Lorimer, 1977), 20-30.

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Don Mills as planned in the early 1950s

centre are elements that Hancock borrowed directly from Perry, and that loom large in Dodoma as well. The immediate international recognition of Don Mills would be good for a long and worldwide career. At the head of PPAL – in the post-war decades a company with hundreds of employees working at multiple offices – Hancock designed and built numerous urban renewal projects, expansion areas and New Towns on almost every continent.60 His list of projects includes plans as diverse as the expansion plan for the Canadian city of Ottawa, the Kuwait City waterfront, the New Town Abuja in Nigeria (rough design), a university campus in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and the New Town Xi’an

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60.  In the 1960s, PPAL’s heyday, the company had five offices in Canada and one in London.


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in China.61 When the CDA commissioned PPAL to design the master plan for Dodoma, two decades after Don Mills, Hancock was approaching 50 and the office had quite a bit of professional experience.

PPAL’S NATIONAL CAPITAL MASTER PLAN FOR DODOMA The first thing you notice about the bulky National Capital Master Plan report is its wealth of data: models, diagrams, charts and maps, spread over a total of 1,000 pages.62 The method used by PPAL can be described as business-like and model-based with a strong emphasis on landscape or, as PPAL put it, ‘physiographic’ aspects. Like many architects and urban designers in those years, PPAL was an exponent of ‘soft’ modernism in urban planning and architecture. Influenced by new insights from anthropology and structuralism and the alternatives of architects like Team 10 and Hassan Fathy as well as Jane Jacobs’ ideas for a more humane environment, this new generation of modernists was interested in local elements, social patterns and lifestyles, and averse to monumentality and high-rise buildings. However, its approach exposes PPAL as truly modernist: issues like soil conditions, climatic conditions, vegetation and geography of the area are recorded in a business-like, systematic way. In addition, consultants looked at regional settlement patterns and transport networks and at sociological patterns, at the economy and at employment. Everything about Dodoma is meticulously analysed, resulting in a lot of data and, more particularly, in a large number of richly illustrated regional maps. The elaborate surveys evidence the efforts made to justify the selected urban form. Especially the topography and the climatic and vegetative conditions of the subsoil were supposed to have occasioned this. But other, more conceptual factors were also important to the selection of a suitable form for the future city. Parallel to the site analysis, existing city models were inventoried, classified, as it were, into a range of urban archetypes to facilitate the selection. This ‘card index of city types’ includes, among other things, MARS’s plan for London, Constantinos Doxiadis’s schemes for an expandable ‘dynapolis’, and Austrian-American architect Victor Gruen’s system for a cellular metropolis.63 Other models on the list show the ways in which PPAL thought the new town could be set up infrastructurally: using radials or a city satellite ring, or a combination of both.64

61.  See: www.lib.uoguelph.ca/resources/archival_&_special_collections. 62.  One main document and seven Technical Supplements: (1) Background Planning Studies; (2) Natural Resources; (3) Traffic and Transportation; (4) City Form and Content; (5) Public Services; (6) Regional Study; (7) Capital Development Programme. 63.  The Modern Architecture Research Group, also considered the British exponent of CIAM. 64.  ‘City Form & Content’, Technical Supplement to the master plan and slides by Matthias Nuss (archive Dipl Ing Matthias Nuss, Darmstadt, Germany, 2011).

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Typical of PPAL’s model-based approach is that the inventory of city models preceded the site analysis.65 Rather than give rise to the new design, the locational aspects of Dodoma were reduced (and if necessarily simplified) to fit the ‘moulds’ available for this purpose – a method PPAL had used earlier in the master plan for Dar es Salaam. Ultimately, the plan for Dodoma is based on a combination of a number of such models: a hierarchically constructed, expandable system of satellites around the city centre. The gradual arrangement of districts (communities), each of them consisting of neighbourhood units, which in turn consist of ten-unit cells, is in some way similar to Gruen’s cellular system, but (due to its extensibility) also touches upon the Dynapolis concept. At the level of the district, the plan was a lot like Don Mills: the division of the community into four quadrants (neighbourhood units); having a community centre in the middle; the T-sections and loops, and finally the cul-de-sacs with single-family homes – all are present in Dodoma. Given the estimated 10,000 extra residents per year, the master plan had to reckon with 350,000 inhabitants in 2000.66 The PPAL design proposed the hierarchical, gradual construction of the city through a system of communities. It thus fits the Garden City tradition perfectly, like so many other planned cities predating Dodoma. The concept of community was the Canadian response to Nyerere’s idea of self-supporting ‘urban villages’: an urban and standardized version of the Ujamaa village. A building block for the new town, the community was designed as a cluster in the form of an almost perfect circle consisting of four quadrants - the neighbourhood units – around a community centre. The size of the district was partly based on the so-called European standard for district planning, with a 500-m radius, ensuring that the walking distance to the community centre is no more than 5 minutes. For Dodoma, the European size was stretched to 1 km, a 10-minute walk, because of the target density appropriate for a rural low-rise town, and because ‘Africans are used to walking a lot’.67 Like in the Ujamaa villages, the ten-unit cell was the smallest political and social unit in Dodoma: about 50 people in a group of ten houses under the leadership of the ten-unit cell leader. In the Ujamaa city, the ten-unit cell was translated into a Canadian cul-de-sac: a residential court consisting of ten houses organized around parking lots. The houses were terraced or detached, depending on income levels.

65.  It appears that the ‘City Form’ component was an integral part of PPAL’s approach. The master plan for Dar es Salaam (1967) also included a Technical Supplement called ‘City Form’, with almost the same inventory of city models. The fact that the inventory of city types preceded the site analysis is demonstrated by a chronological list of projects compiled by project architect Matthias Nuss (archives Matthias Nuss).

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66.  Capital Development Authority, ‘Project Planning’, in: Dodoma; 1: Reports & Accounts, op. cit. (note 43), 21. 67.  ‘...the weather is excellent and most people are generally used to walking long distances.’ Project Planning Associates Limited, ‘The Residential Community Type’ in: National Capital Master Plan Dodoma, Tanzania (Toronto, Canada: May 1976), 28. See also TS 3 (Technical Supplement) ‘Traffic and transportation’, 7.


Inventory of City Form (left) and walking distance radii (right)

PPAL’s inventory of city regional systems throughout the (planned) world

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In the first phase, 11 districts (communities) were to be built at short intervals, grouped around the existing city centre. In the second phase, this could be extended by another six districts around the central park. In subsequent phases, urban expansion to the east was foreseen. Each district was designed for 28,000 people (7,000 inhabitants per quadrant). In addition to the community centre, in which all major facilities were grouped, the four quadrants (neighbourhood units) each got their own facility centre as well, with schools, churches, mosques, sports fields and business accommodations. A bus lane linked all the districts, like beads on a necklace that, via one or more elongated loops, was also connected to the existing city centre. It was a closed system resembling the inventoried basic idea of the satellite city ring, but consisting of two rings in a figure eight. Subsequently, each district was given a comprehensive and hierarchically structured asphalted road network, which on the smallest scale ended in cul-de-sacs that gave access to the residential courts (the ten-unit cells). Characteristic of the urban design for Dodoma (and many other New Towns) is the open space system, a hierarchical system of green spaces around which the built-up area of the city is modelled. This concept gradually connects gardens, walkway systems, parks and farmland into a smoothly woven fabric. The centre of the new city consisted of a large central park around Imagi Hill. Ideally, the most fertile soil was used as farmland.68 In the actual design however, the shambas (collective farming plots) were arranged as buffers around the communities. Just as in the Ujamaa villages, living and farming took place some distance apart, whereas the spacious grounds in the districts were designated as neighbourhood parks, walkway systems and open-space cells (the communal areas of the ten-unit cells). Since it was already clear at that time that the Dodoman soil was hardly suitable for versatile agriculture (due among other things to the dry climate), a system including irrigation, erosion control programmes and fertilization was an important part of the plan.69 To correspond to Nyerere’s vision, the entire city would have to be built of local materials (using ‘local expertise’), using brick and ceramic tiles whenever possible.70 Most dwellings, including those for ministerial civil servants and state enterprise and factory workers, were to be built and paid for by the state, possibly supplemented by grants from the Tanzania Housing Bank (THB).71 All dwellings (including all privately

68.  Project Planning Associates Limited, ‘Open Space System’, in: National Capital Master Plan Dodoma, op. cit. (note 67), 27. 69.  Project Planning Associates Limited, ‘Agriculture’, in: ibid., 36.

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70.  Project Planning Associates Limited, ‘A Basis for a Housing Policy’, in: ibid., foreword by J.K. Nyerere, and pages 63-64. 71.  Developers and private builders had a claim to the THB fund as well – to be supplemented by private capital, through sites-and-services projects. See Project Planning Associates Limited, ‘A Basis for a Housing Policy’, in: ibid.


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Dodoma Future Land Use Plan

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The Capital City as a ‘cluster of villages’ in the Ujamaa villaged landscape

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built dwellings) had to meet a comprehensive package of building regulations with stringent requirements – by local standards – regarding construction, orientation, size, silhouette and style. People could either opt to self-build their entire dwelling, in which case only the infrastructure was provided (on a sites-and-services basis), or have one of the prototypes designed by PPAL.72 Featuring brick and ceramics, the so-called ‘CDAestate’ – the terraced houses in Area C and Area D that the CDA realized for its own employees – served as a model and an inspiration. The extreme hierarchy is also evident in the urban structure. The plan is set up as a series of A-, B-, C- and D-centres: the A-centre was the brand new National Capital

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72.  Sites-and-services is a system that strives for affordable housing by offering plots with access to basic infrastructure (water and electricity). The approach was popularized in the 1970s by the work of John Turner, among other things by the publication of his Freedom to Build (1972) and Housing by People (1976).


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Centre, the B-centres were the industrial centres (a number of designated areas scattered throughout the city), the C-centres were the district centres and the D-centres were the TANU ten-unit cells. The brand new National Capital Centre (NCC) was to be the representative city centre and was planned on an empty spot in the southeast corner of the existing city. The commission to develop the sub-plan was given to American architect James Rossant (1928-2009) of the firm Conklin & Rossant. This ambitious sub-plan was commissioned by the United Nations (UN Habitat), which over time had become involved in Dodoma. Rossant had won fame in the 1960s with his design for the New Town of Reston, Virginia (USA). Rossant’s former client Robert E. Simon, who had heard what was happening in Dodoma at a UN cocktail party in New York, had tipped him to apply to the UN so he could contribute to Dodoma.73 Rossant’s design consisted of a giant mall of stepped terraces that brought together ministries, cultural facilities, shops, trade and recreation. The new hub of Dodoma’s daily life, the NCC was to take the part of new city centre, next to the historical city centre. Situated on a hillside overlooking the city, seven large terraces led to a top platform, its apex a sculpture of a Ujamaa tree, an abstracted acacia tree as a symbol of congregation. The construction of Rossant’s mall was never even started. When at quite a late stage (1981) the design was finally ready, the economy had gone into a severe depression. In addition, the very unfortunate location of the NCC must have played its part: an empty site, far from existing facilities, but also set apart by a large physical barrier: the railway. The ambitious plan furthermore involved moving the train station to this desolate place: a very cumbersome as well as excessively costly matter, which ensured that the plan would not be implemented any time soon. The master plan included yet another centre besides the NCC, namely a government centre-cum-party office. This ‘Parliament Complex’ was planned on Chimwaga Hill, a crest about 8 km southeast of the centre, so even further out than the National Capital Centre. Among other things, this political stronghold accommodated the CCM party office (the TANU had merged with the CCM in 1977); a CCM conference hall and the National Assembly.74 On a hilltop, it was to rise above the city as its dominant landmark. The detailing of the complex (done by PPAL itself) was monumental as well: a composition of white buildings that bore an inescapable likeness to Oscar Niemeyer’s iconic Three Powers Plaza in Brasilia. Its conference hall is a huge cone that matches

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73.  Rossant created his sub-plan for the NCC between 1978 and 1981. Interview Molly Garfinkel with James Rossant, dated 3 July 2009 in: Molly Garfinkel, Do As I Say, Not As I Do; The Planning and Development of Dodoma, the Post-Independence Capital City of Tanzania, Thesis presented to the faculty of the Department of Architectural History of the School of Architecture (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, May 2010), 100. 74.  PPAL: ‘Summary; Urban Design Report’ (1980), quoted in: ibid., 116.


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Sketches by James Rossant (Concklin & Rossant) for the National Capital Centre (NCC)

the inverted cone for the National Assembly, completed by an impressive processional way leading to it. Though Nyerere initially stated that Dodoma was not to become an ivory tower, the stately Parliament Complex appears to be designed in the tradition of monumental state buildings. This alien aspect is harshly criticized by Laurence Vale (Professor of Urban Design and Planning, MIT, Cambridge), who considers it a disruptive element in a man-centred city.75 A power seat as an impregnable fortress, far away and therefore beyond the reach of ‘ordinary people’, he rightly states, has no place in an egalitarian, man-centred city. The building plans for the Parliament Complex never saw the light of day, either. The octagonal white party office that replaced it would long stand isolated on the hill. This somewhat strange, angular building (built by the Chinese, say insiders) represents one of the last convulsions of Nyerere’s socialist single-party state. It currently serves as the main building of the new university campus. 75.  Laurence J. Vale, Architecture, Power and National Identity (London/New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

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The major planning effort that went into the two new centres, the two most ‘symbolic’ elements of the plan and the monumental buildings derived from them, illustrate the shift from a focus on community living towards the incarnation of the absolute power of the single-party state. It is as if Nyerere gradually and increasingly allowed himself to be guided by a political agenda rather than by a purely ideological one, and gradually lost the ability to resist the concept of a monumental capital. More worrisome was, however, that the master plan had also gradually split into fragments. Now there were actually three centres: the existing town centre (which was given a compulsory facelift), Rossant’s brand new representative National Capital Centre and PPAL’s iconic Chimwaga Hill parliamentary centre. As the fragmentation of the master plan and the emphasis on representation and prestigious projects increased, Ujamaa began to disappear from the picture.

Three centres for Dodoma

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A WESTERN TEMPLATE FOR A CITY OF SELF-RELIANCE We now return to the main question of this article: How did the master plan still relate to Nyerere’s ideal of a rural farm town? To what extent was the city and were the TANU ten-unit cells still a manifestation of Ujamaa? To answer this we can look at the master plan in different ways and on different levels. On the scale of the city, and with a little good will, it is conceivable that the master plan – with regard to its organic structure of communities – can be read as a physical expression of Ujamaa. The loose way in which the communities arrange themselves as constellations of urban villages within the rolling topography of the landscape can be interpreted as organic, small and extendible. Its hierarchical structure, too, can be read as the physical representation of the finely branched political framework of TANU/CCM: from the level of the city, to the level of the group of houses.76 In addition, a public transport service using bus lanes opened up the hearts of all the neighbourhoods and was an expression of community. In the preface to the master plan, Nyerere says:

I believe this Plan, as it stands, is consistent with the ideology of Tanzania. Two very important examples can be given to show the way that it reflects our philosophy. First, the Plan shows that Dodoma will be built as a series of connected communities, each having a population of about 28,000 people. Within these communities people will be able to cooperate for joint activities of a productive, educational, and social nature while remaining part of the larger town. The second fundamental point about this Master Plan is the way it gives priority to the building up of an efficient public transport service and to the physical 76.  In the Arusha Declaration, Nyerere explains the hierarchy of the political system in a spatial way: ‘If every individual is self-reliant the ten-house cell will be self-reliant; if all the cells are self-reliant the whole ward will be self-reliant; and if the wards are self-reliant the District will be self-reliant. If the Districts are self-reliant, then the Region is self-reliant, and if the Regions are self-reliant, then the whole Nation is self-reliant and this is our aim.’ TANU: The Arusha Declaration and TANU’s Policy on Socialism and Self-Reliance (Dar es Salaam: TANU, 1967), 18.

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movement of people on foot and by bicycle. Private car ownership will become less of an advantage in the new town than it is in places like Dar es Salaam, for many roads and paths will be reserved for buses and bicycles, while inter-city and goods traffic will be confined to major service roads and the railway, by-passing the residential areas. 77

However, a slightly more critical eye cannot fail to notice the extent to which this plan is not a manifestation of Ujamaa. Its most striking aspect is the virtual absence of shambas: the communal agricultural lands that were, theoretically, situated at the heart of the concept. In the schematic proposals, land was still allocated to the shambas, albeit secondary land: somewhat undefined residual spaces on the edges of the neighbourhoods – farmland surrounds the neighbourhoods like a green buffer. In the detailed plans, however, the shambas have completely disappeared: in both the land use plan that was part of the master plan and in the elaboration of the model district Kikuyu (1978), they are not drawn in at all – remarkable, to say the least, for an Ujamaa city. According to the designers this resulted from their struggle with the low density of the plan, a typical feature of suburban New Towns.78 Density was much debated during the design process. To the UN team involved in the design, led by special advisor John Overall, the low density of the plan was even the main point of criticism: a ‘tremendous luxury’ that a country under construction could not afford.79 PPAL’s architect and urban planner Matthias Nuss (one of the Dodoma planning team’s main designers at the time) describes low density as a major Achilles heel in the master plan. Nuss said: We all - including Nyerere, knew quite well that it was impossible to provide for adequate arable land within urbanised areas. The communities would be spatially just too large. Distances to schools and local centres would become unmanageable. Not to talk about the economics of vastly low densities.80

77.  Project Planning Associates Limited, National Capital Master Plan Dodoma, op. cit. (note 67), foreword by J.K. Nyerere. 78.  A new city that is not really supposed to be a city, but rather an anti-monumental and rural town, is as challenging as it is contradictory – perhaps impossible. The new city should, in principle, have a low density to ensure that agriculture could take place, with the shambas not too far away from collective life in the ten-unit cell. At the level of the city as a whole, however, this would automatically imply huge distances between key public facilities, which in turn would require relatively more facilities, longer roads, more asphalt, higher transportation costs, more water pipes, etcetera. Incidentally, the density problem is a problem that surfaces in many (mostly suburban) New Towns. The general question is: How can the city be densified, while the suburban character is preserved at the same time?

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79.  From an e-mail exchange between the author and Matthias Nuss, Darmstadt, 2 July 2009. 80.  E-mail exchange between the author and Matthias Nuss, 27 July 2011.


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Detailed layout for Kikuyu, Dodoma’s model community

The dry climate and the fact that the land was hardly arable did not help, either. The shambas had been scheduled to be situated on the most fertile soil, but due to the mandatory format this had not been easy to realize. Another cause for the virtual disappearance of the shambas (from the text, but also from most maps) is probably that the eventual city was built not for farmers, but primarily for government officials, including the CDA itself. As the capital, Dodoma would have to accommodate many government departments and their employees, as well as the employees of state enterprises. All the more reason for the designers to emphasize matters such as commuting, the balanced distribution of facilities in community centres and the creation of sports and playing fields, at the expense, in a sense, of potential shambas. But perhaps the most striking change is that the car was given free rein. The road network was very close-knit and expensive for a road network that was constructed ‘ahead

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of time’, with a view to the future (in case car use would increase).81 Each district was provided with a comprehensive and incrementally built road system consisting of arterial roads (ring roads), collector roads (around the residential areas), local roads and cul-de-sacs. The network was strictly separated from the bus lane by bridges and overpasses (like in Radburn, but not implemented here). At the neighbourhood level, the different types of roads were connected by walkways, cycle paths Ten-unit-cell in Area C, designed (and partly used) as parking place (2009) and roundabouts. A comprehensive design guideline for the road profiles had to ensure that each type of road was recognizable by the size of the profile and the composition of trees, shrubs and hedges (as in Chandigarh). The emphatic design of the road network is an aspect that was certainly not in line with Ujamaa, given its intention to discourage private car ownership in favour of public transport. Moreover, very few Tanzanians had a car at their disposal at the time. In that same light, the design of the ten-unit cell is noteworthy as well. The rational design of ten terraced houses around a parking lot could just as well have been found in one of the French Villes Nouvelles around Paris, in what the Dutch call a ‘cauliflower’ district or, in its most luxurious manifestation, in Don Mills. The plan appeared to meet the requirements for the comfortable life of the relatively well-to-do official rather than that of the farming family with its collective shamba. Did Nyerere himself refuse to acknowledge this? Did he think his rhetoric could shout the defects down? Or was it actually economically impossible to build for poor farmers? Another, more general aspect that has been taken directly from Western New Town planning is the exhaustive precision with which street profiles, building heights, home occupation, number of residents per neighbourhood, and corresponding densities are stipulated, up to and including the requirements for the design of the dwelling 689

81.  See Project Planning Associates Limited, ‘Circulation’, in: Kikuyu Model Community Development Plan prepared for the Capital Development Authority (Dodoma, Tanzania, September 1978), 42.


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and the number of metres to the front door. The extreme degree to which all this has been designed on the basis of meticulous calculations can be readily deduced from the development plan for Kikuyu, Dodoma’s model community, drafted in 1978 as a sub-development of the master plan.82 Take, for instance, the careful categorization of standardized dwelling types. Depending on the size and income of the family, there was a choice between luxurious detached or semi-detached houses (an average of 6.1 people per unit), terraced houses (5.3 people per unit), and apartments (3 people per unit: primarily targeting unmarried couples or singles). A sophisticated system of T-sections, loops and cul-de-sacs in turn was meant to keep cars away from the residential courtyards. It is mainly this precision that makes PPAL’s plan so inflexible. Not only does it take a lot of investments, this type of hyper-control leaves no room for interpretation by users and therefore excludes anything resembling self-reliance. The plan for Kikuyu makes it particularly clear how the Ujamaa ideology faded in favour of expensive and standardized houses, sports fields, industrial estates and parking spaces in the middle of the ten-unit cells: ‘There will be broad patios, floral gardens and large canopy trees for enjoyment of shoppers, business people, commuters and all who visit the centre.’83 Rather than a city of self-reliance, the much more generic ‘creating a fine example of community design’ had become its goal. The communal shamba was deleted in favour of the ideal of a single-family dwelling with a garden and a car at the kerb. Ujamaa had definitively been sacrificed to comfort, privacy and leisure. This was partly due to the focus shifting to a different population group (government officials instead of farmers), and partly to the realization that the city could never be sustained by farmers with their land-absorbing grounds alone. It would be far too expensive to build – especially in view of the above- and underground infrastructure – balanced against the large number of subsidized dwellings. In other words: the community ideal of the Ujamaa city meant one thing to Hancock, and another to Nyerere. To Nyerere, a community would also be a manufacturing unit (and therefore self-reliant); to Hancock, individuals would have their own jobs and the community would mainly consist outside working hours, when people jointly played sports, exercised hobbies or visited churches or mosques. The exchange of shambas in the middle of the neighbourhoods for sports fields therefore exemplifies the conflict between ideology and plan.

82.  Project Planning Associates Limited, Kikuyu Model Community Development Plan, op. cit. (note 81). 83.  Ibid., 33.

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A PLAYGROUND FOR PLANNING EXPERIMENTS Perhaps a perfectly self-supporting farming town is a utopian dream; but a suburb is the other extreme. The above therefore gives rise to the next question this chapter wants to address: What possessed Hancock to stick Nyerere with a Canadian suburb? Did PPAL deceive the Tanzanians? The answer to that is both yes and no. The readymade city model Hancock and others came up with enjoyed wide support globally at the time (in the first decades after the Second World War). Partly because of its ‘universal’ design principles and its great flexibility and thus great applicability, the Garden City or New Town model was embraced thankfully: it could be used in a variety of locations and situations, and modified or reproduced in an edited form. Convinced as they were of the universal value of model-based urban development, model fetishists like Hancock could find sufficient characteristics to be used as reasons for the application of their method in almost every situation. In the eyes of PPAL architect Design Team presentation (Nyerere, Kahama, & Sapi on the left) Matthias Nuss, his boss was not only a productive urban planner, but also a very talented salesman.84 What Hancock did according to Nuss was produce Don Millses ‘in the most divergent of locations around the world’. But it may be even more deep-seated than that. Imbued with the dominant doctrine of modernism as designers like Hancock were, through their training or ‘contaminated’ by their teachers, they were apparently unable to stop themselves from propagating the modernist ideology. As if they, partly from deep-rooted conviction, partly unconsciously, were looking for frameworks that would fit their model in every conceivable situation.

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84.  ‘Macklin was a gifted “salesman” and as soon as he was convinced himself, he could convince almost everybody else. Salesmanship was one of his greatest talents.’ From an e-mail exchange between the author and Matthias Nuss, dated 6 November 2011.


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For the brand new leaders of states in need of organization like Nyerere, the rational, clear and scientific tools of Western urban planners were just the thing. The impenetrable landscape of largely hidden and seemingly chaotically built villages and their selfproducing families whose lifestyles where difficult to read, managed to completely elude any power or government control. To quickly and decisively redesign a nation, a policy aimed at efficiency, calculations, formulas – planning – appeared highly useful and effective. This idea is also expressed by James Scott (Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University) when he points out similarities between the Ujamaa policy and the colonial rulers’ compulsive organization in the preceding period. Scott says:

That premise [underlying Nyerere’s agrarian policy] was that the practices of African cultivators and pastoralists were backward, unscientific, inefficient, and ecologically irresponsible. Only close supervision, training, and, need be, coercion by specialists in scientific agriculture could bring them and their practices in line with a modern Tanzania. 85

According to Scott, the mistrust (or underrating) of the ordinary farmer and his ‘backward’ techniques led to a blind faith in machines and large-scale operations. Just like the planned Ujamaa village was an ‘improvement’ with regard to the greater readability and controllability of building and settlement practices, planned agriculture was an ‘improvement’ of the infinite variety and jumble of small businesses, each with its own techniques.86 In the same vein, the order and readability of PPAL’s master plan, with its clear and understandable format based on quantitative criteria, was a rewarding and obvious means to create a new city: a simplification of the existing situation, but ‘better’ and (administratively) easier to control to boot. However, another major ‘guilty party’ in the mismatch between ideology and planning can be found in the vague, multi-interpretable commission the state gave the planners. The extreme contrast between the idea for the new city and the plan that was created for it appears in retrospect to already be present in the design commission PPAL was

85.  Scott, ‘Compulsory Villagization in Tanzania’, op. cit. (note 25), 241. 86.  This at the time widely held belief is also omnipresent in the 1964 World Bank report and in the first five-year plan for Tanganyika. See ibid., 241-242.

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given. For rather than clearly defined frameworks and a specific brief, it mainly consisted of generalities that referred to the symbolic value of the new capital, the cultural aspirations of Ujamaa and the provision of a harmonious, balanced living environment. Vague statements that, supplemented with enthusiastic quotes from the Arusha Declaration, could easily be interpreted in many ways. The bulky master plan even shows that the ideal and the design can coexist in a single document: Nyerere’s utopian and compelling words about collaboration, equality and self-reliance illustrate elaborate drawings of detached houses, private gardens and parking spaces. It is therefore highly conceivable that Nyerere’s statements allowed different interpretations and left the door open to different views. The contrast between ideal and design – a capitalist translation of socialist ideology – must therefore not be attributed to Western planners alone, no matter how well-intendedly they would impose their values on an underdeveloped country. It is clear that the leaders who were involved in the planning of the capital (both President Nyerere and CDA chief Kahama) did not act merely ideologically, but occasionally opportunistically as well. Changes that were made during the planning process were also motivated by actual impracticality (such as the too-low density, and the combination of high costs and an exhausted economy). And it must have been hard to resist executing the CDA homes in Area C and D with extra care – as these were intended for the commissioners of the plan themselves. And so it came about that an idea that was socialist, rural and based on collective collaboration, morphed (unnoticed?) into a Western and individualistic plan consisting of overpriced houses, a costly road network and an unattainable bus lane. And inadvertently became completely dependent on development aid. Not only was the plan stripped of the community spirit and collaboration ideals that were the very reasons for its existence; the forces behind the construction of the new city also changed. In a relatively short period of time Dodoma, a secluded place hidden in the savannah, became a design laboratory, particularly for Western planners. Where PPAL had actually been invited by Nyerere and his advisers, once the UN got involved Dodoma became a matter of ‘public interest’, a magnet for overseas planners, advisors and money. Inviting the UN in, incidentally, had been an initiative of Nyerere himself in the first place. As Tanzania suffered a lack of resources and expertise, he had asked various countries and the UN to assist in the construction of the city by providing money, expertise and advice. Various foreign parties were reluctant to give money because they did not see the point of a new capital87 – they sent advisors instead.88

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87.  A.M. Hayuma: ‘Dodoma: The Planning and Building of the New Capital City of Tanzania’, in: HABITAT INTL, vol. 5 (1981) no. 5/6, 653-680. 88.  According to Hayuma these were, besides the UN, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Australia and the Netherlands. See: ibid.


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The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) counselled the CDA and the design team, even assessing the plans before they were presented to the CDA board.89 It is in their wake that other experts felt compelled, either by invitation or on their own initiative, to come over and offer their services. In addition to James Rossant, American planner James Rouse had, for instance, also travelled to Dodoma earlier. Rouse, who designed the New Town of Columbia (1964) in the USA, felt that his counselling might be of value to Dodoma and flew to Tanzania as early as 1974 (following a UN conference in Vancouver, where he heard of the project) to personally meet Nyerere and explain his ideas on urban development.90 Although Rouse did make some sensible comments – he said Dodoma must focus much more on creating an idiosyncratic, self-supporting way of life, rather than lose itself in construction projects – such contributions increasingly left a Western mark on the Dodoma project.91 Paradoxically, it appears to have been the indigenous, exotic agenda that lured consultants from far and near to Dodoma with the idea to build a radically new type of city. Just like Nyerere’s agenda of national self-reliance had managed to draw the attention of (both liberal and progressive) political leaders from all over the world, the urban project managed to attract (and thus came to epitomize) international design ideas. The agenda for Dodoma – the design of a new type of city that was the model of local rootedness – was thus self-defeating. On the one hand, this is due to the situation in which the country found itself at the time: without any home-schooled experts (and with all land owned by the state, making it the only developer) it had no choice but to ask for outside help. But the complacency and meddlesomeness of the overseas planners, on the other hand, transformed the National Capital Project into something everyone thought they owned – and as a result, no one did. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for the United Nations (UNEP and later UN Habitat) to intervene in urban development projects calls for closer investigation. The fact remains that urban development was in this case taken over by mostly non-local parties that were highly unfamiliar with the day-to-day reality in this part of Tanzania; with the habits of (existing and future) inhabitants; the sociocultural and economic capital – in short, with the foundations that the city was supposed to be built on. Moreover, the entire project had begun to attract development aid from all over the world. Ironically, all this interference ruined any chance of survival of the self-reliance that was supposedly Dodoma’s greatest asset.

89.  Capital Development Authority, Blueprint for Dodoma, op. cit. (note 3), 13. 90.  This conference took place in 1974. Joshua Olsen, Better Places, Better Lives: A Biography of James Rouse (Washington, DC: The Urban Land Institute, 2003), 276. See also Garfinkel, Do As I Say, op. cit. (note 73), 142. 91.  James W. Rouse, Dodoma, City of Self-Reliance (advisory report dated 1 May 1975), archives Matthias Nuss.

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It wasn’t until 1979, six years after the start of the capital project and just before it was shut down again, that American planner and theorist Donald Appleyard identified the problem. Appleyard was just another Western expert assessing (also at the invitation of the UN) the planning of Dodoma. He was connected to the University of Berkeley, California, and was asked to review the master plan and make further proposals.92 At that time, the first parts of the plan (Area C and D, north of the town centre) were being built. Appleyard Meeting between CDA and United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Director George Kahama on the back was the first to notice the problems caused by the huge number of foreign consultants brought in, contrasting with the negligible number of Tanzanians involved. The problem was, said Appleyard, that the lack of home-schooled design professionals was caused by a lack of educational establishments and would therefore continue to exist. There were only eight architects and not a single landscape architect in the whole of Tanzania at the time, which made hiring foreign consultants a necessity.93 In his report Appleyard also revealed that George Kahama considered his own CDA unfit to evaluate the plans. Kahama himself likened watching foreign design presentations with ‘going to the movies’: an amusing but passive affair.94 In addition, the CDA lacked the tools to adequately respond to the proposals. After all, designing a city was something totally new that nobody, not even the members of the CDA, had ever done before (an impression enhanced by Matthias Nuss expressing his suspicion that no one was able to even understand design drawings).95 Whether this is true or not, it is quite conceivable that the CDA had a passive role (assumed it, or was given it) in the development of the city. This is a painful observation, because it actually means that all plans were doomed to fail. What was lacking was a common ‘language’ for the CDA and the designers to discuss the urban

92.  Some years earlier, Appleyard had also been involved in the planning of Ciudad Guyana, Venezuela. See the contribution of Simone Rots on Ciudad Guyana in this publication. 93.  Donald Appleyard, Urban Design and Architectural Policies for Dodoma, New Capital of Tanzania. Review and proposals for the United Nations, UN Habitat Nairobi, Institute of Urban and Regional Development (Berkeley: University of California, 1979).

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94.  Ibid., 60. 95.  Interview with Matthias Nuss, Darmstadt, 2 July 2009.


Sketches by Donald Appleyard of Acacia tree (as a symbol of the Tanzanian meeting place) and suggestions for road network

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designs with. Without such a language, it was impossible to ‘personalize’ the generic (‘place-less’, according Appleyard) designs of the foreign consultants into a locally embedded product to which specific knowledge and immediate stakeholders could contribute. A year later the journal Landscape Architecture published a shortened version of Appleyard’s report, in which he made the following significant statement:

The [Tanzanian] government should extract more commitment from these highly qualified consultants to stay in Dodoma and undertake professional education as part of their contracts. As consultants we might resist such moves, for it will eventually reduce the jobs available, yet we should not be colonialists forever. 96

On the issue of urban development in the post-independence period Appleyard’s statement hit the nail on the head: both the Tanzanian government and the Western consultants had to show greater commitment. The only way to put the country on the map was for the state to own the development of its own projects. According to Appleyard, educated Westerners ought to facilitate that process. Another structural problem that Appleyard addressed was related to the high costs the design entailed. He referred among other things to the separate transport system (the bus lane) and the high quality of the dwellings. When Appleyard arrived in Dodoma, there were no more than 300 cars and only two buses in the city, which made the separated system ‘extravagant for this stage’.97 His advice was to have all transport use the same road at first, only to extend it later, when the first traffic jams presented themselves. His clear understanding of the slums shows a similar pragmatism. He had come across this problem (which according to him was hardly an issue as yet) earlier, while he was planning the New Town Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela a few years before. In Cuidad Guyana, he had noticed, failing to recognize the basic needs of the lowest incomes (or the naive idea that they would no longer exist in the new city) had resulted in a divided city, consisting

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96.  Donald Appleyard: ‘The Delicate Process of an Outsider’s Review: Dodoma, Capital of Tanzania’, Landscape Architecture, no. 70 (1980), 293. 97.  Appleyard, Urban Design and Architectural Policies for Dodoma, op. cit. (note 93).


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of a (planned) rich section and an (unplanned) poor section. His advice was to loosen the too-strict control over the quality of the housing stock and make room for this type of urban planning instead. ‘People who are prepared to build their own houses, even if substandard, are making a potentially creative contribution to the development of the city and demonstrating self-reliance.’98 Although some of Appleyard’s advice (especially concerning the design) is now obsolete, it is worthwhile to once again draw attention to his report today. As we will see below, his insights are still relevant and very valuable to the current generation of urban developers. Perhaps coincidentally, no more foreign consultants were engaged after Appleyard left Dodoma. The deep depression in which the country found itself could not but affect the capital project as well. Due to the oil crisis, prices of imported goods had boomed (in contrast with the much lower prices of export products) and the war with neighbouring Uganda had absorbed all public funds (Idi Amin’s army invaded Tanzania in 1979). In addition, it appeared that donor countries preferred to invest their money in the development of agriculture or industry, and that they did not appreciate the added value of a new capital.99 Nyerere, who despite the severe crisis continued to build his new capital for a relatively long time, was forced to shut the project down by the early 1980s. Except for the main infrastructure, industry and civil works, only the interim master plan had actually been realized as a ‘complete project’ – involving Area C and Area D: the somewhat sleepy, suburban neighbourhoods north of the town centre. The old city centre had been overhauled, as were several public buildings, including the party headquarters on Parliament Hill. But the construction of Kikuyu, Tanzania’s model community, came to a stop halfway in the sand. And as there was no blacktop road to Dar es Salaam, the city would remain isolated for a long time, like an island in the middle of the savannah.100

PLANS, PLANNING AND PRACTICE: DODOMA AFTER THE MASTER PLAN Like many other New Towns, Dodoma did not develop according to PPAL’s blueprint. This was largely due to circumstances that no planner could foresee, such as an economic catastrophe and an extremely peremptory reform policy. A long period of drought, which especially affected the already dry Tanzanian interior, came on top of that. Just as Nyerere’s rural town was an intellectual idea rather than a practicable plan

98.  Ibid., 54. 99.  Hayuma: ‘Dodoma’, op. cit. (note 87). 100.  The Dodoma-Morogoro road was not completely asphalted until the late 1980s.

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with actual local roots, the whole socioeconomic framework that upheld the Ujamaa policy on socialism and self-reliance proved a utopian dream. In 1979, 90 per cent of the population lived in Ujamaa villages, but these produced only 5 per cent of the national rural income.101 At the same time, many well-functioning villages, with their farming practices and knowledge that had been carefully preserved down through the generations, were lost. Although education and health care made great progress under Nyerere, schools and hospitals were often built in places that had been expropriated to that end. There was no going back for the farmers who had lost everything, and they were often no longer in a position to claim the facilities that initially had (also) been designed for their benefit.102 In the late 1970s the country suffered from widespread famine and a bloated government bureaucracy. Upon his arrival in Dodoma in the early 1980s, British doctor Theodore Dalrymple, not particularly fond of Nyerere, describes how the economy of the country had become completely dependent on ‘hand-outs from others’. ‘Its greatest export product [is] requests for more aid, especially from the West.’103 In 1983, Nyerere gave up his socialist dream, in part forced by the IMF and the World Bank, his main safety nets. From that moment on, the single-party system and state-owned enterprises were abolished, and private investment readmitted. This free market approach was adopted by President Aly Hassan Mwinyi (1985-1995), who officially gave up the Arusha Declaration as a blueprint for development. Mwinyi succeeded Nyerere after his voluntary resignation in 1985, which ended two decades of socialism. Mwinyi assumed responsibility for a country that was in dire straits in all respects. The 1980s were a ‘lost decade’, not only to Tanzania, but to the vast majority of the continent: in the mid-1980s, most Africans were as poor or poorer than the day their countries became independent, with a dramatic 90 per cent decline in purchasing power.104 Educated Africans left the country, further eroding the civil services and local expertise. Under Mwinyi, the Dodoma master plan was revised as well, and replaced by a more compact and thus more realistic alternative (1988). This so-called structural plan implemented a number of important changes, including the combination of the road networks (for cars and buses) and the clustering of communities and their facilities. Today, this version merely represents an insignificant interlude in the plan’s history, since no part of it was ever realized; the CDA would eventually return to the 1976 original, as it turned out. 101.  Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 9), 257. 102.  I gathered as much during interviews with the residents of pre-Ujamaa villages, in: Mosha, Architecture and Policies, op. cit. (note 34).

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103.  T. Dalrymple, ‘Sympathy Deformed; Misguided Compassion Hurts the Poor’, City Journal, vol. 20 (2010) no. 2. 104.  Compared to 1969. See Martin Meredith, ‘The Lost Decade’, in: Meredith, The State of Africa, op. cit. (note 9), 368-377.


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There are some interesting studies that show how the implementation of the Canadian master plan for a green, open city clashed with local practices. Aldo Lupala and John Lupala, both attached to the Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam, describe how the construction of the city, starting in the late 1970s, caused many conflicts at the grassroots level.105 For instance between the CDA and the residents and entrepreneurs (local farms and dukas were ousted by the plan), among residents (cattle ate the crops of others), and conflicts about use (new dukas settled in areas that were meant for recreation). Existing trade and agriculture had to make way for the construction of the new city. Areas earmarked as green zones (like the Chang’ombe area), on the other hand, developed into informal neighbourhoods. The overall reshuffle of existing land uses and economic activities in and around the city was extra painful because it prevented rather than encouraged people to become self-supporting, which had initially been the idea. In addition, their activities – some of which were substantially ‘green’ already, such as breeding cattle or growing crops – were driven to the outskirts of the city, only to cause chaos there. In other words, the Canadians who made the design were not the only ones to lose sight of the idea of a rural city, the CDA that was trying to realize it lost sight of it as well. Worse: the existing practices, which actually agreed quite well with the idea of a rural city, had to yield to it.106 Another interesting development is described by Wilbard Kombe and Volker Kreibich, specialists in the field of urban land management in Sub-Saharan Africa. In their fascinating study on the development of the aforementioned Chang’ombe, one of Dodoma’s informal areas located on the northern edge of town, they throw light on the informal city development process that took place here in the 1980s and 1990s and that turned against the Canadian plan.107 Chang’ombe, an existing small settlement along the national main artery to the north, was designed in the master plan as a green belt, but developed into a dense, lively neighbourhood in that relatively short period. This happened on the basis of the planting scheme that the CDA had constructed by then. Party representatives at the lowest spatial level (the district, the neighbourhood and the ten-unit cell) subsequently steered towards (unplanned) neighbourhood development by issuing and registering land, assisting in disputes and providing basic services. This unofficial state of affairs, where the land development is a socially

105.  A. Lupala and J. Lupala, ‘The Conflict between Attempts to Green Arid Cities and Urban Livelihoods; The Case Of Dodoma, Tanzania’, Journal of Political Ecology, vol. 10 (2003). 106.  It was 1987 before the CDA got around to making a Cattle Resettlement Scheme to relocate the displaced farmers, once again outside the town, but this plan failed as well. Instead, small urban farms appeared in places that were not designed for such a purpose. See: ibid. 107.  Wilbard J. Kombe (University College of Lands and Architectural Studies, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) and Volker Kreibich (Universität Dortmund, Germany), ‘Informal Land Management in Tanzania and the Misconception about Its Illegality’, paper presented at the ESF/N-Aerus Annual Workshop ‘Coping with Informality and Illegality in Human Settlements in Developing Countries’ in Leuven and Brussels, 23-26 May 2001.

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controlled and self-regulating mechanism that functions by virtue of the voluntary efforts of local stakeholders, did not only come about in Dodoma but is typical of many (semi-) informal neighbourhoods in developing countries.108 However, Chang’ombe is an interesting example because it shows that a plan does not necessarily have to oust local practices, as it in this case laid the groundwork for informal urban development. Indigenous landowners who were already living in the area realized the district on the basis of a green belt-inspired grid. They preserved the planted trees and the overall pattern, and ordered new informal builders to do so as well. They preserved the tree pattern partly for practical reasons (the grid was a useful background), but also to a large extent for strategic reasons: they wanted to remain on good terms with the CDA, who wanted to evict them. In reality, as the authors reveal, the informal authorities started an action group against the CDA’s eviction plans, which ultimately bore fruit when the dwellings were legalized. The example of Chang’ombe is an excellent illustration of the forces that reacted against the master plan in the years it was first in place, and of how a town arose that differed from the blueprint. On the other hand, and more generally, Kombe and Kreibich’s study shows that urban development (including that in Chang’ombe) can apparently work fine through unofficial, highly decentralized regulation, which also brings about a high degree of social cohesion. The authors therefore emphasize the importance of involving the informal housing system, fed by local stakeholders and volunteers, in the (needy) formal one. In Dodoma – of all places – they saw promising starting points for doing just that. Dodoma has developed on the basis of partly formal, partly informal urban planning systems. These systems apparently operate completely independently. They are not congruent, which is why they mostly thwart each other. The result of 40 years of urban development on the basis of a master plan is, it seems, an urban concoction in which PPAL’s master plan is faintly visible. The road scheme, the pattern of neighbourhood units: from the air, these are vaguely visible, like the indefinite print of a poorly inked stamp. Most roads are not fully realized, but look like broken lines, sometimes cut and rearranged, sometimes abruptly axed. In the places where there are no connections, informal roads exist, worn away over time. These ‘elephant paths’, which wind through neighbourhoods and cross barriers, make the missing connections visible. There are cars, daladalas, bikes, trucks and pedestrians on the realized bits of bus lane. They are ordinary roads now, used by every kind of traffic except scheduled services buses. 701

108.  Ibid.


Development of Chang’ombe on spatial fixtures of the planned green belt

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The open, sandy fields at the heart of the districts – once intended as recreational greens – are used as football pitches. In some respects PPAL’s master plan actually did add something positive to the city, particularly in the sense of infrastructure and open spaces. The 1976 master plan seems to have been more flexibly applied than was intended. Within four decades, Dodoma grew into a city that is many times more compact than the low-density scheme of the Canadian suburban dream. Like model district Kikuyu, many of the other neighbourhood units it served as a pattern for were never built. A significant part of the housing stock, as well as the network of paths, is selfbuilt. These informal neighbourhoods concentrate around a few large open spaces,


The Bunge (2010)

University Campus (UDOM). Left the former CCM/TANU Party headquarters, now used as central conference hall (2009)

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rudiments of the open space system. The National Capital Centre and the parliament centre were never built. Instead, a parliament building was constructed (presumably around the turn of the century) within walking distance of the town centre. The bunge (parliament) defies all descriptions regarding iconic state buildings and is the most ostentatious building in town. According to residents, the parliament building is only visited once a year (during a short period), when an entire Dar es Salaam government delegation flies in for parliamentary sessions. On other days of the year, the structure faces the deserted streets around it looking like a solid and impregnable Fort Knox. Today’s city is a mixture of long-existing structures (roads and water mains), PPAL’s network of asphalt and open spaces, and a whole lot of self-organized additions and informal residential areas. Current urban development runs perpendicular to the axis required by the master plan: not in an east-west direction, but along a northsouth axis: following the relatively well-functioning infrastructure (roads and water mains) – just like the above-mentioned Chang’ombe district. This urban collage is currently being expanded with a new layer. Sitting president Jakaya Kikwete (who took office in 2005) took particular pains to regenerate the capital project, and these days the town is targeted by large government projects once again. One of these projects is the UDOM campus, University of Dodoma, around the former party office on Chimwaga Hill. This prestigious project is supposed to develop into a university campus of international allure and aims for a total of 40,000 students from different disciplines, twice as many as the current University of Dar es Salaam.109 Besides UDOM, plenty of other educational institutions also thrive: St John’s University in Kikuyu, the College of Business Education, the technical Madini Institute and the Institute of Rural Development Planning (IRDP). Dodoma thus emphatically presents itself as a student city. Calculations are based on the arrival of 150,000 students and another 200,000 of support population (staff, construction, maintenance, etcetera).110

NEW ROUND, NEW OPPORTUNITIES? PPAL’s National Capital Master Plan did not make it for the most part. Yet this highly artificial, now 40-year-old format is still guiding early twenty-first-century urban development. The polynuclear structure of neighbourhood units, the bus lane, the

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109.  Southern African Regional Universities Association, www.sarua.org. 110.  Capital Development Authority, ‘Existing Conditions’, in: Consultancy Services for the Review of Dodoma Capital City Master Plan, Interim Report Part 1, submitted by SAMAN Corporation, Korea in association with Tanzania Human Settlements Solutions, (Tanzania, 2011), PART I EXISTING CONDITIONS, 2.2 Economy & Market Trends.


Master Plan for Dodoma in 2010

Bank of Tanzania and Ministry of Finance under construction (2011) at the site for the National Capital Centre (NCC)

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National Capital Centre: they unchangingly appear on the zoning map.111 Indeed, the plan is apparently bigger, more ambitious and more fragmented than ever before. As additions to the old plan, a parliament town (this time closer to the town centre) and a university town (around the former party office on Chimwaga Hill) are projected. Like PPAL suggested at the time, these eccentrically situated ‘towns’, as the CDA calls them, are to function as autonomous centres for education (university town) and government (parliament town), beside the already planned centres for work and shopping (the National Capital Centre), industry (industrial areas) and living (the neighbourhood units).112 Currently, President Kikwete’s University Campus is undisputedly the prestigious project meant to put the capital on the map and raise the level of facilities and living culture in the years to come. Even James Rossant’s mall for the National Capital Centre looks as if it is still being built: during a visit in 2011, the first giants (the Bank of Tanzania and the Ministry of Finance) were under construction. Most are being erected by Chinese contractors and builders. Given the warm relationship between China and Tanzania, it is plausible that the renewed upsurge of the national capital is funded by the Chinese as well. China increased its Tanzanian investments in recent years, to become its most important trading partner today. This is probably why Chinese President Xi Jinping began his March 2013 African tour in Tanzania. President Kikwete, in turn, is one of the fiercest (African) protagonists of the Sino-African trade relationship. Apparently, the historical friendship that Nyerere provided with a solid foundation by having the Chinese build the TAZARA is now being fully ‘exploited’. In Kikwete’s own words:

‘Africa needs a market for its products. Africa needs technology for its development. China is ready to provide all that. What is wrong with that?’ 113

But then again, the recent visit of US President Barack Obama, three months after Jinping, reflects that ‘the West’ won’t let things stand. Both countries have an interest in Tanzania’s natural resources, which include large gas and oil reserves, and

111.  This was the case in both 2009 and 2011, during talks with the CDA.

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112.  Dodoma National Capital Updated Land Use Plan 2010 and interviews CDA, October 2011. 113.  CCTV (YouTube) 27 March 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDg_6virGyk.


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promise ‘development’. The question is whether Western aid, mostly accompanied by requirements concerning economic and political reform, can compete with the Chinese, whose money for roads, underground pipes and even an entire port is entirely free of obligations, reportedly with no strings attached.114 In view of the re-launch of Dodoma as capital city and university town, the master plan is currently being revised. The commission went to the South Korean engineering company Saman Corporation in 2010.115 It remains to be seen what plans the Koreans will come up with: as yet, the CDA is hardly open on the subject. It is, however, certain that by contracting Saman, the CDA has once again handed over its urban development to overseas consultants. The Koreans, too, seem to underwrite a comprehensive, technocratic approach, given the huge infrastructural projects and master plans (including some for New Towns) in their portfolio and the accompanying slogan:

Xi Jinping visits Tanzania (right president Kikwete), march 2013

Popular words as used by Xi Jinping (left) and Barack Obama (right) in their Tanzanian speeches in 2013 (wordle)

114.  Gabe Joselow: ‘US-China Competition Plays Out in Tanzania’, Voice of America, 30 June 2013, http://www.voanews.com/content/us-china-competition-plays-out-in-tanzania/1692302.html. 115.  Elias Msuya, Dodoma, The Capital City That Never Really Took Off, Tanzania News, 3 October 2011, www.tanzanianews24.com.

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‘We change the map of Korea.’116 Saman’s preliminary plan for Dodoma (2010), which foresees three million people in 2030, includes a dramatically larger territory, with the city usurping 20 villages.117 The plan furthermore promises a public transport network of electric trains on top of an expansion of the road network. The work will involve the use of alternative energy sources and sustainable water systems.118 As is inherent to their outsider position, the Koreans will undoubtedly have a fresh view of the matter, but will they also understand the underlying ways of this city, this region, this country? Can they interpret the essence of this Tanzanian city and its population better than PPAL did at the time? Or will they use similar methods, and import a foreign (this time Korean) model? In this respect, it is encouraging that the consultants are working with a local team of experts: Tanzania Human Settlement Solutions.119 Judging by recent developments, the impact of the Canadian master plan appears to be greater than is evident at first glance. More important than its final, physical result is its ongoing psychological omnipresence. The model and malleability-based mentality of the master plan seem deeply embedded in the thoughts and actions of the urban planning agency. The belief in planning and in the manageability of the planning apparatus that were both characteristic of PPAL’s methods lives on in the current plans. The Capital Development Authority still seems determined to build Nyerere’s dream capital. The question is, whether this is a good thing. On the one hand, new investments are sorely needed, particularly in infrastructure: the vast majority of the population still has to go without basic services such as (clean) water and a sewer system. It is therefore necessary to work within a large framework, like a master plan. Like other educational institutions such as the booming Institute for Rural Development Planning in the north of the city, the University of Dodoma is a promising institution that has the potential to create a lot of jobs and really boost local expertise.120 So these are good things for the city, both educationally and economically. But it is also clear that current planning tools hinder the ‘natural’ growth of the city. Like other African cities, Dodoma has an (informal) tendency towards concentration, with all urban programme components (housing, trade, transport, meeting places) self-organized and almost automatically connected to each other. This higher density,

116.  Saman currently has projects in large parts of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. See www.samaneng.com. 117.  Source: http://dar-es-salaam.wantedinafrica.com/news/8551/plans-to-redesign-tanzanian-capital.html. 118.  Source: ibid. 119.  It is unclear precisely what Tanzania Human Settlement Solutions (TAHUS) is and does. The company name makes it likely that this is a group of planners or urban planning advisors.

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120.  The purpose of the Institute for Rural Development Planning is ‘training, research and consultancy services in the field of Rural Development Planning and Management’. Its mission is ‘aimed at bridging the knowledge gap among different practitioners of development planning, which include the central government sectors, local government authorities, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations and the private sector.’ See: www.irdp.ac.tz.


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Unplanned use of public spaces in the interstices between the planned areas (daladala/bus station and blue ribbon of duka’s)


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the much smaller plots and an intricate mix of functions do not suit the spacious, expensive, fragmented and overly detailed mould PPAL once conceived for Dodoma. The most visible proof of this is in fact supplied by the existing pattern of urbanization in an exactly opposite direction (north-south rather than east-west).121 Other traces that can be read as physical expressions of local needs are the informal markets, the many dukas (informal shops) and daladala (bus) stops, which oddly enough settle mainly on relatively small residual spaces that were never meant for such use. The large-scale plan, like the formal planning apparatus behind it, does not meet the actual state of affairs yet and therefore does not fulfil any direct urban needs. The uniform apartment complexes advertised by the National Housing Corporation (complete with communal sports fields) will be built for the middle and upper segments.122 Projects such as these focus on a market that benefits only a very small minority (pieds-à-terre for parliamentarians?). All this requires monstrously high investments – again. Money that, if it is available at all, would be better used to fund the basic necessities of the majority of the population.

TOWARDS TRUE SELF-RELIANCE? Just as the growing big-city problems of Dar es Salaam were once a driving force behind the creation of Dodoma, Dodoma now faces similar ‘deficiencies’ – slums, lack of proper infrastructure and underemployment. This appears to be the reason to project yet another city on top of (in part literally next to) the existing one. Is investing in new projects easier than improving what is already there? Is building another ‘New’ Town an attempt to ‘make good’ the failure of yesteryear? Apparently so. As a capital Dodoma has failed, that much is clear from the current state of the city. After all, almost all ministries and embassies are still in Dar es Salaam, the true ‘capital’ of Tanzania which now counts close to 5 million inhabitants. The fact that the entire government apparatus has to be flown to Dodoma for parliamentary sessions every year is not only very costly and time consuming, it is also extremely artificial. For the city to have a chance as a government centre, political will is imperative. Since even Nyerere never wanted to move to Dodoma, few believe this will ever happen.123

121.  Work on this development is probably already underway: during talks between the author and the CDA (Joseph Towo) in 2011, Saman’s typical north-to-south pattern of urbanization was already mapped. 122.  The National Housing Corporation (NHC) was established in 1962 by Julius Nyerere. Anno 2005, it has become an independent operator. The NHC currently focuses about two thirds of its time on the middle and higher incomes, and about one third on the lower incomes (note: it probably does not focus on the poor, the ‘no-incomes’, at all, SvG). Source: Paul K. Bomani, interview with Saturnine Katanga (Chief Quantity Surveyor of the NHC) in ANZA-Issue#1, Dar es Salaam, 2011 – onduidelijk wat dit precise is, een tijdschrift?. 123.  A presidential residence was built in Chamwino, near Dodoma, but the question remains to what extent Nyerere used this house as his permanent residence.

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Although it has failed as a capital, Dodoma achieves good results as a regional agricultural centre. The climate in the interior is none too favourable – the region experiences long droughts – but as a centre of agricultural trade, Dodoma does relatively well. A very large part of the locally produced crops are grains (including the omnipresent millet) and maize, plus a smaller share of beans and seeds, peanuts, coffee and tobacco. The crops are grown for miles around, on small farms in and around the region’s villages. Also, a considerable amount of livestock is bred and traded, and the Dodoma region is the only region in East Africa where wine is produced successfully. The entire production is just about sufficient for the subsistence of the villagers and townspeople of the Dodoma Region, leaving hardly anything for export.124 In this regard, the town is beginning to realize Nyerere’s dream of a purely self-supporting agricultural city built by people from the region. A city that, with roughly the same population as envisaged at the time (today almost 500,000 inhabitants), has evolved into a self-reliant city. A city lacking any monumentality indeed – apart from that one iconic bunge. However, these results came about in spite of, rather than thanks to, the master plan. This seems to be the city’s essential quality: the fact that it is a self-starting engine or, in Nyerere’s words, basically self-reliant. The question is whether Dodoma’s qualities – as a market for regional products, on the basis of its raw materials and driven by the available labour force, but also as a pleasant, non-monumental city in itself – are sufficiently recognized in the current plans. The closeknit mixed use that has developed here is being met with a plan that separates functions; the housing shortage (of the poorest people) is being met with apartment complexes for middle and higher incomes; and the absence of monumentality is apparently being met with large government complexes. As Donald Appleyard already indicated in the 1980s, planning is a useful tool only when local culture and mechanisms are fully understood. Can the Koreans pull it off? To make planning effective, it is furthermore necessary to understand local 713

124.  Capital Development Authority, Consultancy Services for the Review of Dodoma, op. cit. (note 110).

‘Catalogue’ residential appartments planned by NHC for Dodoma. The same are built in Dar es Salaam.


Nyerere is remembered in many ways: a hairdresser in one of Dodoma’s outskirts

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markets, the web of stakeholders, rulers, political relations and economic factors. This is an extremely difficult task. Other than in many Western countries, urban planning in Africa seems to be subject to laws that are difficult for outsiders to understand. The relation between a plan and reality is often none too clear, and sometimes even appears to be altogether absent. How does the interaction between master plan and reality work? The inscrutability of the planning apparatus, with its equally unclear laws, rules and budgets, is characteristic of African cities.125 On the other hand, home-schooled architects and urban planners will have to be able to live with the overseas plans and will also have to be capable of sustaining the new city. Is the system behind the urban development instruments (whether made by Canadians or Koreans) in keeping with the method of those who are to build the city – the CDA, the semi-informal land developers and informal builders? The foreign consultants issue seems inseparable from an equally big issue that plays a part in most African cities: the huge gap between plan and reality. The previously cited Kombe and Kreibich study (2001) about the informal residential neighbourhood Chang’ombe transparently explains that gap. They underlined the importance of involving informal local (housing market) systems in the formal systems, and this deserves serious attention. It would be wonderful if the new generation of planners, rural developers, managers and consultants, trained at Dodoma’s private colleges and universities, could play a decisive role in this. Then the work force of the city itself could bring about real cultural change, and build a city of self-reliance that lives up to its name.

125.  This tentative conclusion was confirmed by the author during various insightful panel discussions at the 5th ECAS 2013: European Conference on African Studies, Lisbon Portugal, 26-29 June 2013.

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Baghdad, Iraq

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