Many scholars have been arguing for some time that dominant knowledge and discourses on the African city are largely inappropriate. These discourses mirror simplistic modernist assumptions about what constitutes a viable, legible, efficient and competitive city. From such a vantage point the African city can only be seen and read as a narrative about absence, failure and inadequacy. Critics of these dominant discourses, such as Jennifer Robinson, AbdouMaliq Simone, Dominique Malaquais, Achille Mbembe, Asef Bayat, Ibrahim Abdullah, Okwui Enwezor, Onookome Okome, Jean Tshonda, Philip de Boeck, Sarah Nuttall, amongst many others, point to multiple alternatives in approaching and understanding the African city.
The unique ambition of Rogue Urbanism is to produce new and relevant theoretical work on African urbanism in a way that works within the border zone between inherited theoretical resources and artistic representations of everyday practices and phenomenology in African cities. The assumption is that urban theorists can renew and expand their search for grounded approaches to theorise African urbanism through an engagement with the epistemologies of artists, cultural practitioners and designers; and theorists who work on the urban condition and spatiality can find new entry points to enrich their own creative processes. Where reflections fail to work directly with the insights of artists, scholars can at least work through their understanding of the ordinary in the everyday, however this may manifest or inspire.