Sanitary Segregation: Cleansing Accra and Nairobi, 1908-1963
Waseem-Ahmed Bin-Kasim (Washington University in St. Louis)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores innovative sanitary projects aimed at combating epidemics in the settler and non-settler capital towns of Kenya and the Gold Coast as well as how the residents responded to the projects
Paper long abstract:
William John Ritchie Simpson - one of British Empire's foremost sanitation and plague experts - recommended the same urban plan for Accra and Nairobi, despite their very different histories, power dynamics, and landscapes. For local officials to properly enforce sanitation and contain epidemics, Simpson recommended creating distance or buffer zones between the quarters of different racial communities. In implementing Simpson's plan, officials expropriated vast swaths of land where business premises, homes, and farms were located. For various reasons, residents of the towns resisted the implementation of Simpson's blueprint. The projects yielded varying results - including slum demolition, relocation, and remodeling. Meanwhile, local resistance to his vision engendered heated controversy within various sections of the towns and caused dissent within the hierarchy of the colonial administration. The chaos often pushed colonial civil servants to disregard sanitary expert advice, empire-wide public health regulations, and led them to extend the boundaries of the cities. While scholarly works have explored Simpson's sanitary innovations in colonial Africa, they have focused on only segregation, overlooking other key components of his urban plan, including the creation of buffer zones, drains, water supplies, and housing. This paper focuses more specifically on how the chaos played out in the creation of buffer zones in Accra and Nairobi and demonstrates that sanitation served to reinforce and challenge urban planning in colonial Africa.
Non-Penal Confinement in Africa