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Hosea Olayiwola Patrick
Ernest Nene Khalema
Ayobami Abayomi Popoola
Korbla Peter Puplampu


Two decades into the current millennium, there are still questions about the status and situatedness of Africa in the global community. One central question about Africa is the historical footprint and arrangements of the colonial occupiers. From this standpoint, additional questions center on the lived experiences of Africans, especially in terms of the colonial impact on settlement arrangements and planning models. Several policy initiatives aim to empower and improve the African condition from the global to the continental levels. From the global context, the United Nations-inspired Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (2000 to 2015) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2015 to 2030) are instructive. While the former goals focused on the Global South, which included the African subregion, the latter set of goals focused on both the Global North and Global South (Hanson, Puplampu and Shaw, 2018). The SDGs, especially SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions), and SDG (partnership for the goals) are essential in addressing the nexus of the environment, human settlements, and global partnership. At the continental level is the African Union Agenda 2063 and its inspiring undertones of creating an Africa that Africans want based on sustainability (Africa Union et al., 2016). The important point is that both the global and continental policy initiatives have significant implications for any discussions on coloniality, autonomy, identity, and spatial justice, the issues at the heart of this special issue of the Journal of Inclusive Cities and Built Environment. It is thus an opportune time through this special issue to unpack how well contemporary policy and research on the continent have come to grips with the interplay between (de)coloniality, autonomy, identity, and spatial justice. The special issue aims to contribute in durable ways to the possibilities of reimagining space and place in the built environment from a decolonial lens. The reflections in this issue arise from engagement with questions of spatial difference, autonomy, identity, and change in Africa, aspects of which have become more apparent through the current debates on decolonization. These experiences form the basis of reflection stimulated in this issue to reflect on what confronts and motivates built environment knowledge holders in deepening the critique of past colonial injustices. The question of what the built environment (i.e., planning, urban planning, architecture, housing, social geography, and spatial planning) can do to contribute to the decolonial debate. Colonialism connotes a power relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, often expressed in a superior-inferior binary in state-to-state relations (Young, 2018; Whyte, 2018; Hechter, 2020). The legacies of colonialism are visible in a post-colonial society (MaldonadoTorres, 2017; Bonilla, 2020; Enns and Bersaglio, 2020, Patrick et al., 2022) and the pattern of power relations in such society (Ricaurte, 2019). While many may trace Africa’s colonial realities back to the conquest and subjugation of Africa in the slave trade era (Wabah and N-ue, 2020; Masaka, 2021), one can argue invariably that the official colonialization of Africa was formalized in the Berlin conference of 1884/85, chaired by Otto van Bismark (Idejiora-Kalu, 2019; Babatunde, 2020). The implications of this event for any conceptualization of African identity in the historical contemporary contexts cannot be overemphasized. Identity, it needs to be stressed, is about a sense of self and how others recognize and response to that sense of self. Indeed, is there an African identity currently in an era of neoliberal globalization?

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