Week 3 Oxford Street in Accra

Francesco Vergari 110622440

Week 3: African Urbanism: the Global City

As Ato Quayson writes in Oxford Street, Accra, the effects of globalisation can be observed in Ghana’s Capital city,. The influence of transnational corporations blending with the needs and desires of Ghanaians. The economy of Accra is of particular interest as Quayson observes practise and trends in both the formal and informal economies. Quayson notes the influence religion plays on commerce and politics as can be observed on the myriad of slogans declared on all billboards, shop stands, wall, cars and all other matters of signage. It is an effort to express spiritual ideas while attempting to connect with a large Christian consumer base in the city. The term “some are sitting well” for example is used to express the criticism of corrupt government officials benefiting from their positions. Quayson discusses many different slogans and their assigned meanings but it is interesting to consider term as an expression of individuality while connecting with other local in a shared culture.

Quayson also discusses the popularity of salsa dancing and fitness training in Accra as appealing to all social classes and bridging ethnic and cultures divides while still recognizing the divergent trends between the upper and working classes in Accra. Salsa dancing appeals more often to upper class citizens as it is perceived as more refined and is perhaps a little more exclusive while the working class tends to frequent fitness centres or “gymming” in order to be active as well as to socialize. This overall trend speaks to the uneven accessibility of opportunity that globalization provides as well as reflecting the colonial legacy of British rule as lower class subjects were more directed to do manual and physical work while the upper class and colonial administrators enjoyed the ‘finer things’ in life.

Quasyons account is interesting to consider the implications of globalizations as there can be observed similarities between Accra and other cosmopolitan metropolises such as London and New York. The salsa dancing much enjoyed by the city’s youth and upper class citizens is a trend that can be observed in other large cities as is the reach of transnational corporations in terms of the products available to those in Accra.

Discussion Question: If we are to draw lines of simile between Accra and other global cities should there also be discussion of the negative aspects such as inner city poverty, gang violence, organised crime, issues with law enforcement etc? As globalization brings many benefits it can also just as many issues if individuals and cities are not equipped t manage them.


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