Exploring the place of social justice and sustainability in urban planning and design

OluTimehin Adegbeye is a Nigerian speaker, writer, and activist. Her work is derived from a self-perceived duty to social justice with a focus on gender, class, sexualities and sexual violence. Other concerns addressed in her work are Sustainable Development and Urban Poverty.

When asked about her career path, OluTimehin expresses “I don’t know that I ‘chose’ to follow this career path; I speak and think about problems that seem to me to be pressing and in need of urgent engagement. In the course of that, opportunities present themselves, and I take those which help me inspire more people to engage with our societies’ many ailments where gender, class and other sites of marginalisation are concerned.”

OluTimehin gave her first TED Talk titled “White Sands, White Flags: The Demolition of Lagos State Waterfront Communities” at TEDLagos Ideas Search in February of this year. Her second TED Talk titled “Who Belongs in a City?” was held at TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania. She was also a speaker on several panels that include “Rewriting Herstory: Harnessing the Power of Feminist Writing Platforms and Networks at the Black Feminisms/AWID Forum” (Brazil, 2016), “Spirit Women at ChaleWote: Spirit Robot” (Ghana, 2016) as well as “Intersections: Culture, Social Justice and Feminist Narratives” (Ghana, 2016).

Her writing has been published in multiple languages and can be found in StyleMANIA Magazine (Nigeria), Klassekampen (Norway), Women’s Asia 21 (Japan) and Essays Magazine (South Africa) to name a few. Online, her writing has become part of the content in the African Women’s Development Fund, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, and the African Feminist Forum, along with other platforms. Besides what has already been mentioned, OluTimehin is an alumna of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop (Nigeria, 2015), the inaugural Writing for Social Justice workshop organised by AWDF in collaboration with FEMRITE (Uganda, 2014) and the Farafina and the BRITDOC Queer Impact Producers Lab (USA, 2017). The list of her written output continues to get longer, emphasizing her determination to address the social justices issues mentioned earlier.

OluTimehin’s personal writing consists of memoir writing, autofiction, and poetry that explore motifs such as solidarity, autonomy, trauma, motherhood and radical love. Working towards the deconstruction of exploitative and aggressive power structures fortifying globalised societies, she aspires to re-inscribe the core value of human life.

“I started to identify as a feminist in 2013 and since then I have benefited from and continue to contribute to many physical and digital communities that share stories and strategies about how to make our realities less violently exclusionary. I began engaging with questions of urban development about a year ago, and since then I’ve had opportunities to share my perspective on what an inclusive vision of my home city, Lagos, might be.”

OluTimehin forms a part of African Mobilities‘ Friday Lecture series and shares the following thoughts on her involvement, “I think it was very discerning of the organisers in Lagos to think about not just the physical landscape, but also the social aspects of how the city functions, and thus to invite someone like me who doesn’t work in the traditional design space to speak to the impacts design, urban vision and ‘development’ might have on the populations of my city. I’m honoured to have been invited to add this perspective to the layers of discourse around African Mobilities.”

Identifying as a decolonial feminist, OluTimehin is currently based in Lagos, and is actively working towards unravelling societal dilemmas from this viewpoint.

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