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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:On the worlding of cities in Africa
Author:Simone, AbdouMaliqISNI
Periodical:CODESRIA Bulletin
Geographic terms:Africa
West Africa
Subjects:Islamic movements
urban planning
Abstract:At the moment African cities are searching for an identity in an increasingly confusing world. Severe economic fluctuations and the uncertainties of globalization have made life very precarious and city dwellers have been forced to seek ways of not locking themselves into fixed commitments, but at the same time to engage each other in ways that maintain a semblance to local stability, interaction, and cohesiveness. In many cities in West Africa they have achieved this through membership of 'tariqa' (plural 'turuq'), Sufi orders. When people are far from home the 'zawiyyah' or Sufi lodge, where members can find shelter and which also serves as a referral agency, assumes great mportance in their lives. Recently 'turuq' have been endeavouring to engage in transnational operations, especially those in the Gulf States and in Djeddah. They are involved in the trans-shipment of narcotics, counterfeit currencies, credit cards, and various software. They also barter gold for weapons, machinery, and vehicles. The annual 'haj' provides a splendid meeting point for what are known as the twelve 'tribes' of East and West Africa to meet and negotiate. In the process of what the author has designated 'worlding' of West African cities, the elaboration of a 'worlded' domain of operations, the time-honoured institution of the 'zawiyyah' has developed to cover some of the gaps in the social life. It has evolved into a sort of loose-knit council which operates at the international level. Thus specific, long-standing traditions of social regulation and collective effort are being reworked in an elaboration of spaces of economic transaction, knowledge production, and cultural influence. Notes., ref.