We live in an era when ideals of human rights have moved centre stage both politically and ethically. These rights have expanded and now we have the right to the city.
This means according to urban sociologist Robert Park; ‘man’s most successful attempt to remake the world he lives in more after his heart’s desire. But, if the city is the world which man created, it is the world in which he is henceforth condemned to live.’
In that regard here is a brief back ground about my city Kampala located in Buganda kingdom in Uganda. This city is made up of 7 hills, Kasubi hill (kasubi tombs), Mengo Hill (where headquarters of the Buganda kingdom are found), Old Kampala hill, Kibuli Hill, Nsambya Hill, Rubaga Hill, and Namirembi hill. It has 5 divisions Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division and it is the capital city of Uganda and it is a district.
This city inhabits a diversity of cultures as many capital cities in worlds, thus has no main language except the indigenous one Luganda of the original people and English, the colonist language.
The question of what kind of city this is can’t be divorced from the kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values its dwellers desire.
‘The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization;’ wrote David Harvey.
In that regard I tried to find what rights that can relate to my city Kampala and its people, below are some examples;
Everyone deserves the right to land and housing that is free from market speculation and that serves the interests of the community, building sustainable economies, cultural and political space. This right is for every city dwellers, originals and immigrates.
Then there is the right to permanently own urban territories for public use like the city square or constitutional square in Kampala, for public gathering by city dwellers.
People have a right to work, no matter the gender or type of work, so long as it serves their interest.
As an original city dweller you have the right to indigenous justice. This means indigenous people can keep their ancestral lands that have historical or spiritual significance, regardless of state borders and urban or rural settings.
Environmental Justice; this is the right to sustainable and healthy neighbourhoods, workplaces, quality health care, and reparations for the legacy of toxic abuses such as brown fields, cancer clusters, industrial waste in the water that is used by the public and superfund sites.
Freedom from Police and State Harassment hence safe neighbourhoods and protection from police, other security agencies and vigilante repression, which targets poor people.
Immigrant Justice, you might think we don’t have this in Kampala and Uganda as a whole but I have experienced housing injustice in one of Uganda’s towns because I looked like a member of a certain tribe. This calls for the right to equal access to housing, employment, and public services regardless of tribe or clan.
Services and Community Institutions that support the different diverse cultures in the city is also a right for you as a dweller in the city. This includes churches, mosques and all the other institutions so longer as they abide by the law of the land.
The right of community control and decision making over the planning and governance of the cities where people live and work, with full transparency and accountability, including the right to public information without interrogation. This helps people to own their decisions and be happy at the development they have made in their own areas.
This is one of my best rights; the right to support and build solidarity between cities across national boundaries, without state intervention. It gives the people power to build for themselves under the provided law what they consider to be the best city.
And then those who dweller in the far outcasts of the city, rural Justice is there’s. They have the right to healthy economies and stable communities that are protected from environmental degradation and economic pressures that force migration to urban areas.
So now you know your rights, are you enjoying them? If not what are you going to do for yourself and the city at large?