Ubuntu commercial nests in African indigenous markets in Nairobi: alternative business model for an emerging ‘African metropolis’

This research proposes that there is an ‘African metropolis’ that has been struggling for space and ascendancy in the City of Nairobi. It is made of the slum, urbanized villages, self-developed urban fringes and the African indigenous markets. The four spaces are inextricably bound to each other. African markets concentrate capital and labour in the metropolis and serve as Ubuntu nests where traders and artisans nurture each other through solidarity entrepreneurialism. Strong family, friendship or ethnic bonds form the basis for social and economic transactions. Market traders, artisans and workers are drawn from the ‘African metropolis’ while surplus generated in the market is spent in the metropolis. The metropolis has struggled over time to maintain African logic, norms and values of production and exchange transactions through self-reliance, provisioning and community spirit. It has struggled to survive in the face of modernization, neoliberalism and more recently digital revolution and Chinese influence.

Project leader(s):
  • Mary Njeri Kinyanjui (University of Nairobi)

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