chapter  1
Power and the built environment in colonial Africa
Pages 13

The built environment received much attention during the heydays of colonialism in Africa. For colonial authorities, each opportunity to infl uence spatial form and function was seen as an occasion not only to solidify their grip and control over the colonized but also to reaffi rm preconceived notions of European supremacy and power. Colonial authorities had ample opportunity to infl uence the structure and purpose of the built environment in Africa. For one thing, colonial Africa boasted vast areas of unsettled terrain. For another thing, colonial powers controlled valuable resources, and were therefore able to manipulate the built environment to suit their own goals. As Kim Dovey (1999: 1) suggests, ‘place creation is determined by those in control of resources’. There was certainly no question regarding who controlled the resources. Quite early in the colonial epoch, colonial powers had crafted and implemented perfi dious plans that ensured them uninhibited access to, and control over, all economic resources in Africa.