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Kwere Kwere journeys into strangeness : reimagining inner-city regeneration in Hillbrow, Johannesburg Winkler, Tanja Adele

Abstract

There are a number of debates currently taking place in the 'North' that suggest that faith-based organisations (FBOs) are better placed to address urban poverty and to facilitate grassroots regeneration than the state. Accordingly, religious organisations in stressed inner-city neighbourhoods have achieved a certain level of stability and presence that make them important sites for organising residents, particularly in non-Anglo, immigrant-rich communities. Northern scholars a l so suggest that faith-based community development benefits from readymade leadership, opportunities for new leadership, and the possibility of building strong collaborations with both secular and other faith affiliations. Collaboration then becomes key in promoting successful community/ faith-led regeneration projects. In Hillbrow, Johannesburg's most demonized and stressed inner-city neighbourhood, FBOs have also become "spaces of hope" for approximately 70 percent of its inhabitants. They enable at least one mechanism through which the everyday uncertainties and insecurities of the Sub-Saharan urban may be navigated. And they create, however tenuously, a sense of belonging in this transitional, port-of-entry, neighbourhood. This may be said despite Hillbrow's diverse, and sometimes competing, faith identities which are far from being homogeneous. Still, many facilitate social and welfare services abandoned by the city council, in addition to community wide development projects. In order to reimagine the City of Johannesburg's exclusionary and 'revanchist' regeneration policies, this study will argue for a civil society involved and/ or led regeneration by embracing planning for social transformation theories and practices: A s such, in contrast to the mainstream and official understanding of Hillbrow, sites of faith-based efforts reveal an/ Other Hillbrow: an organised civil society in which their current initiatives suggest new possibilities for urban regeneration and human flourishing.

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