ASSIGNMENT 2: City Report
The assignment involves the production of a short report/essay on one city in the Global South of your choosing. The main objective of this assignment is to learn something about the history of your chosen city, the way its economy has evolved, its social and cultural composition, the way it is governed, and its current relationship to other cities across the globe and in the same nation.
You are asked to select a single city from any nation in the Global South (otherwise known as ‘developing nations’, or ‘Third World’ nations), and examine changes in that city’s social, cultural, economic, and/or political geography over time, including any colonial legacy that your chosen city may have had. The precise indicators that you decide to examine are up to you, and you are free to focus on specific themes in which you are interested. However, even if you decide to focus on a specific theme, you should still provide some information and discussion of at least three of these four aspects (social, cultural, economic, political). You should examine the development in your selected city over an extended period of time, comparing its state in the
most recent period to earlier periods. In doing so, you may decide to limit your comparison to two points in time, or you may decide to compare your city over multiple points in the past. You are free to (but not required
to) collect and analyze census data, national-level data, survey data, and data from international databases (United Nations, World Bank, etc), for these purposes. You are welcome to come up with a thesis, hypothesis, and/or research question that frames your analysis and around which your report is structured. Your are encouraged to think critically about the historical evolution of your chosen city.
The text of your report/ essay should range between a minimum of 4, and a maximum of 6, pages in length, double-spaced on regular size (8.5” by 11”) paper, with 1” margins. It should be written in formal academic style. Your report/essay should include an introduction, text body, conclusion, and bibliography/reference list, and where appropriate, any figures/maps or tables that you choose to include. All figures, tables, appendices and bibliography should be placed at the end of the essay, after the text. You need to cite a minimum of five (5) scholarly references, either from academic journals or books, in the text of your report/essay, as well as listing them in a bibliography/reference list at the end of the paper. Note that web searches are helpful in identifying up-to-date factual material and empirical illustrations, and you are welcome to cite material from web sources. However, please note that materials sourced from websites (that are not academic journal articles, books or book chapters) do not qualify for an item count in these five (5) required reference materials.
However, the textbook does count as one of this five if you choose to cite it, since it is a scholarly book. You are welcome to use any established citation format (APA, etc), however this must be applied consistently. You
may want to consult academic journals such as The Canadian Geographer, Urban Studies, Cities, and Urban Geography to help you in thinking about how you will format your report/ essay.
Geography and Environmental Studies (Oxford University Press).
Your essay is due by 8pm on Wednesday March 14, 2018. Please submit your report both through the submission portal on blackboard, and through the turnitin.com portal also on blackboard. Please ensure that your essay is in your own words and referenced properly, and that you are aware of what constitutes plagiarism (which of course is an academic offense) The assignment is worth 15 percent of your total grade for the course.
Nairobi is the largest city and capital of the Republic of Kenya. The city was established in a brackish swamp that was then occupied by Maasai pastoralists and the displaced Kikuyu agriculturalists. Nairobi’s population has grown exponentially and currently stands at over three million people in the city proper and over six million in the metropolitan areas according to the most recent national census. The British colonialists founded Nairobi in 1899 as a rail depot during the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway (Owuor, 2013). Nairobi has progressively evolved into an established hub of culture and business. Today, the “Green City under the Sun” is home to several corporate establishments and international organizations.
Beginning as a mere rail deport, the city progressively gained administrative functions and became British East Africa’s capital replacing the coastal town of Mombasa (Mundia, 2017). The administration of Nairobi has undergone several transformations post-independence. For a long time, the city has enjoyed the status of an entire administrative county. Being entirely urban, Nairobi differs in many ways from other regions in Kenya.
When the provincial administrative system was in place, Nairobi Province had no districts up until 2007, when it was divided into three districts. During this period, the province was headed by a provincial commissioner who was a presidential appointee. The provincial administration safeguarded the interests of the national government and worked with the defunct City Council of Nairobi under the mayor. Today, a new Nairobi City Council is in place (Nairobi City County, 2018). Nairobi was renamed a county according to the provisions of the new constitution of 2010. Accordingly, it is currently headed by a governor who is elected every five years during Kenya’s general elections.
Nairobi is divided into seventeen constituencies despite being the smallest county in Kenya because it is the most populous. Each constituency is represented in the National Assembly by an elected member of parliament. The constituencies are constituted by wards, whose interests are advocated for by members of county assembly, formerly known as councilors. The county assembly is the legislative organ of the county and keeps the county government and the governor in check.
When Nairobi was identified as a suitable spot for erecting a rail depot in 1899, the region was occupied by the Maasai whose livelihoods revolved around herding and the Kikuyu whose forte was agriculture. However, the development of the railway opened up Nairobi to various economic changes. Rail transport facilitated the transportation of bulky raw materials to far-off processing plants. The Britons introduced new economic practices in the area which led to the city’s rapid industrialization. This marked the change from subsistence production to commercial production as there was a need to sustain the city’s growing population. With the establishment of industries, there was a rise of the city’s population as the new factories required adequate labor to function. Resultantly, complementary sectors including banking services emerged.
The economy of Nairobi is diverse as it encompasses a wide range of industries including transport, energy, finance, tourism, real estate, and hospitality among others. The city is home to one of Africa’s largest stock exchange markets, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and ranks among the leading cities with regards to financial service accessibility. Today, various multinational companies use Nairobi as their regional headquarters. The economic geography of Nairobi has diversified with various specializations. Nevertheless, the city continues to face serious economic challenges as more than half of its residents live below the poverty line. Also, the city is struggling with youth unemployment (Muiya, 2014). These challenges can be attributed primarily to poor planning, corruption, and bad governance. However, Nairobi’s economic performance remains stable and is projected to improve according to expert reports. In fact, measures are spelled out in the Nairobi Metro 2030 plan to ensure that the city becomes a world-class city region (Myers, 2014).
When the city was established, the social setup was quite simple as there were only a few natives who besides their original arrangements, operated within the confines of the structures developed by their colonial masters. However, factors including economic changes, modernization, technological innovation, and bureaucratization have altered the function and structure of the social mechanisms that existed previously.
Globalization has significantly changed social interaction among Nairobians. The widespread use of the internet and mobile phones has revolutionized communication in the city. Additionally, with modernization, repugnant social traditions have been discarded. Despite the elimination of these retrogressive practices, there is a growing concern in Nairobi regarding westernization as the local social norms are under threat of dilution.
The various civic and social groups have been formed in Nairobi are characterized by protests against repression. These groups play an active role in the city’s politics. Various actors have plunged into the civil society scene with women and youth groups being among the most vibrant. Being a cosmopolitan city, Nairobi has had to evolve to be able to contain people with different beliefs and subscriptions such that they coexist in harmony.
Nairobi is a multicultural city and homes people of different religious creeds, races, and ethnicities. Before the advent of colonialism, the original inhabitants of Nairobi (the Maasai and the Kikuyu) had strong and distinct cultures characterized by their languages, modes of dressing, traditional religions, and art. The dawn of colonialism and the occupation of Nairobi by other people triggered significant cultural exchange.
For instance, Nairobi is known for the language Sheng, which is an English and Swahili-based cant that originates from the city’s urban underclass (Kaviti, 2015). The use of Sheng among the youth is widespread that even some media stations and Nairobi-bred audiovisuals have resorted to the language to capture youthful audiences (Overbergh, 2015). Additionally, the city is known world-over for its strong Matatu Culture. The culture entails the use of public transport vehicles, especially minibuses to convey art in the form of graffiti and custom designs (Mũngai, 2015). The matatus spot various designs that feature religion, political icons, and music legends (Mũngai, 2015).
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