Not too long ago, there was an article published in the New York Times discussing “Manhattanization” and its implications for (arguably) the best city in the world, New York City. What is Manhattanization?
By Denise K. Museminali
In the past it referred to the process of demolishing small store fronts to make way for the skyscrapers Manhattan is known for. However, of late the term Manhattanization has taken on a new meaning. It now refers to the process of gradually transforming an urban city into a playground for the rich. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think of Kigali.
Enterprise wise, Kigali has been booming. Frustration over not finding an iced coffee has become history. Gone are the days where a craving for Mexican food felt like a life sentence with no end in sight; heck there are even multiple yoga studios popping up all around the city, some even heated.
All great especially for the many Diaspora that are now returning home and missing the accessibility of various recreational activities they enjoyed abroad.
Moreover, as the expatriate community of the city swells, we Kigalians have stepped up to the plate when it comes to making them feel at home. But like most things in life, this all comes at a cost...and by this I don’t mean 1800 francs for an iced coffee. Much greater than that.
Over the past few years there have been record numbers of New York City residents moving out of the city because of its high cost of living. They have been gradually pushed away to make room for the Wall Street tycoons and the real estate moguls.
The high cost of living has made it appear as though there is no longer any room for them in the city. What has been left behind is a great gap in the inequality of wealth within the city. In the near future, Kigali will have to work hard to fight the force of Manhattanization.
As tempting as it is to become a high end glamorous destination, we must not forget to cater to the masses. Let us not get so caught up in the pursuit of individual wealth that we forget the bigger picture of what our society demands of us. It is important to keep asking ourselves, what can we do to keep our city affordable for our hard working citizens?
Keeping in mind that if the average cost of living and average income become polarized, city dwellers will undoubtedly look to relocate to more manageable conditions. And what a great loss that would be, because after all what greater resource does a city have than its citizens?