On the surface the Gauteng City-Region appears to be exemplary of popular conceptions of the term ‘Afropolitanism’. The GCR is a fascinating blend of both African and international cultures and influences. It is home to a highly mobile and dynamic population with roots in the continent and has a distinct urban culture. Yet scratching under the surface of the city-region reveals a complex reality. The Afropolitan concept sits side by side with a host of socio-economic inequalities and urban tensions such as racism and xenophobia.
Afropolitans are highly mobile people with connections to different parts of the world through various forms of relationships. At the core of Afropolitanism therefore lies mobility. People move from one place to the next adopting local cultures and fusing them with their own. In that mobility, complex new identities with a global outlook are born. The result is a generation that is multilingual, multicultural, forward-thinking, academically successful and expressive on many platforms – all tied to Africa by their genealogy.
The Afropolitan concept offers a glimpse into what could conceivably make up a confident, urbane, creative African Identity that embodied the energy of a city-region. As the beating heart of Southern Africa the Gauteng City-Region holds the promise of a vibrant, prosperous and inclusive future that could be achieved if key challenges such as unemployment and inequality are overcome.