Project by
Serah Calitz
Master Track
Jorge Mejia Hernandez, Rachel Keeton, Gilbert Koskamp
Date of graduation

Sino-African Counterpoints

This project presents an alternative to the copy-paste deployment of China financed Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Africa. The darling of Africa’s political elite and favoured apparatus of China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative the SEZ operates as an isomorphic territory from which endemic modes of existence are excluded. The development of the Bagamoyo Mega Project in Tanzania, co-funded by China Merchant Holdings International (CMHI) and the General State Reserve Fund (GSRF) of Oman will see the enforced resettlement of 11 600 villagers. The majority of these villagers reside in the Swahili House.Characterised by a rectangular floor plan cleaved in two by a central corridor leading from a veranda to a courtyard the Swahili House has structured hegemonic definitions of domestic and productive life across three key moments: Colonialism, Ujamaa (Socialism) and Liberalisation. It has also been transformed and appropriated by its inhabitants against such definitions. In response to the SEZ as a homogenous and exclusionary urban form this project asserts the most fundamental of rights: to stay home. In doing so it engages the emancipatory potential of the Swahili house to collectively occupy and claim ownership of place – proposing a conditioning (rather than condition) of the SEZ master plan. It seeks to open up the possibility for new readings of kinship and collectivity by actively negotiating distinctions between community, family and the individual.