‘Our project acts somewhat as a “fig leaf” for Dutch foreign affairs, as a contra weight to the negative publicity the Netherlands gets due to the oil related activities of Shell in the Nigerian region.’ This provocative statement by Michael Uwemedimo (CMAP) made reference to the fact that the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs was the first to support the Human City Project in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
By Sinette Hesselink
In the breakout What Design Can Do for Port Harcourt hosted by the Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP) Uwemedimo founded together with Simon Kennedy, the Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London elaborated on what he had told on the main stage earlier on the day. There Uwemedimo already impressed the audience with imagery of the tearing down of waterfront slums in Port Harcourt and the response by CMAP. CMAP explores design processes through which violently marginalized urban communities might gain a greater measure of control over their representation and shaping their cities.
In the breakout Uwemedimo presented additional information and footage on the Chicoco Radio project, a radio station run by the inhabitants of Port Harcourt. The participants had the opportunity to raise questions and one of these involved the funding of the project. Apart from the Dutch subvention, Chicoco is supported by donations, campaigned for by Amnesty International.
Attendants who work in Rwanda asked whether Chicoco could be made into a model that could be used in other counties as well. Uwemedimo thought the project was too much focused on one specific community for adaptation, but after hearing his presentation it seemed to me that it should be possible to turn such a community radio project into a more general model.
Sinette Hesselink is a designer and trend forecaster based in Amsterdam
Photos by Leo Veger