11 awe-inspiring African cities that are changing the face of urban living in the future.

Imagine a futuristic landscape where gleaming silver spires lined with effervescent lights rise like fabricated flowers from a green, expansive plain, stretching up toward the sun...

Probably not what comes to mind when you think about Africa, huh?

You might be surprised to learn that the second largest continent on the planet is also home to some of the world's most futuristic cities — and there are plans to build even more.


In fact, an estimated 70% of the African population is expected to live in one of these remarkable urban developments within the next decade.

Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself.

Here are five futuristic African cities that already exist, plus six more that are being built.

1. Luanda, Angola

The Angolan capital city of Luanda is already being called the World's Most Expensive City — but as the city grows and grows, people there are also using an expansive mobile phone network to provide quick and easy access to clean water for all citizens, regardless of their income.

Photo via ben sedin/YouTube.

2. Durban, South Africa

That crazy lookin' spaceship below is actually a multi-use sports stadium, and it's only one of the many stunning buildings popping up in the area. The buildings are designed with technology and infrastructure that actively address issues of poverty, crime, and environmental sustainability.

Photo by South African Tourism/Flickr.

3. Ebène Cyber City, Mauritius

The island nation of Mauritius is more than just the basis of a really expensive stamp. The self-contained "smart city" also hosts the internet registry platform for the entire continent, and it boasted high-speed access for all of its citizens well before most other cities in the world did.

Living in Ebène Cyber City is basically like living in a spaceship in the middle of the Indian Ocean that you never have to leave unless you want to.

Photo by Starts/Wikimedia Commons.

4. Kigali, Rwanda

The Rwandan capital is the cleanest city on the entire African continent, which probably contributes to its shimmering, space-like qualities.

And with a population that's expected to triple in the next five years or so, Kigali's ambitious plans for expansion include some impressive sustainability efforts that are both affordable and accessible for people of all incomes and abilities.

Photo by Alex Niragira/Flickr.

5. Nairobi's Financial Centre, Kenya

The Kenyan capital is already being heralded as Africa's Most Intelligent City thanks to its vested interest in creating an integrated, tech-friendly community that connects living and working through and with the convenience of a smartphone.

Recent renovations are turning the downtown financial center into an international destination business hub as well, helping this ecologically sustainable city become economically sustainable as well.

Photo by Msamaria190/Wikimedia Commons.

6. Konza Technology City, Kenya

While we're still years away from seeing the full realization of Kenya's new "technolopolis" — ground was broken on the project in March 2016 — this multibillion-dollar "silicon savannah" aims to be the next big tech industry epicenter of tomorrow.


Rendering via ICT Authority Kenya/YouTube.

7. Safari City, Tanzania

Safari City is just one of several "satellite cities" planned for Tanzania's Arusha region, with a plan to mix affordable and luxury properties in each self-contained urban environment. This will hopefully enable people at every income level to live, work, and play without having to leave their cutting-edge homes.

Rendering via Nhc Tanzania/YouTube.

8. La Cite du Fleuve, Democratic Republic of Congo

This magnificent metropolitan mecca is actually being built on a reclaimed swampland adjacent to the DRC capital of Kinshasa — which might sound weird, until you realize that people are already calling it "the New Manhattan."

But with floating villages already popping up around the country as citizens flee from armed conflicts, building sustainable infrastructures is the obvious next step.

Rendering via Christian Mutombo/YouTube.

9. Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, Nigeria

Another landfill development, the up-and-coming Eko Atlantic City on Lagos' Victoria Island, is being built with plans to house 250,000 people and create 150,000 new jobs as "the new gateway to Africa."

This ambitious housing project will be powered entirely through self-sustaining green energy sources.

Rendering via Urban Lab McGill/YouTube.

10. Hope City, Ghana

In this case, "Hope" is actually an acronym for home, office, people, and environment. With its movie theaters, restaurants, sports centers, university, and hospital, this high-tech hub will actually create twice as many jobs as there is room to live there.

On top of all that, one of those rocket-ship-esque buildings will potentially become the new tallest building in Africa.

Rendering via OBR/Vimeo.

11. Centenary City in Abuja, Nigeria

Though it's still in its earliest stages, the Centenary City project is expected to revolutionize the entire Nigerian economy by creating a world-class urban destination integrated with biometric technologies and optimized for pedestrian, bicycle, and mass public transit.

Rendering via Centenary City Official/YouTube.

While some of these stunning urban centers are still years from completion, it's pretty remarkable to see these futuristic cityscapes take form on the African horizon.

It can be all too easy for us to reduce the African continent to a singular entity of rural poverty, but it's important to remember that there are many distinct, rich cultures spread throughout the more than 50 countries and 12 million square miles of land that make up the continent, and each has its own ideas to offer to the world.

So sure, there are some things to look out for when it comes to any kind of major urbanization projects. But even those are different problems than the ones that we tend to associate with Africa.

That's why these amazing new cities are so remarkable: They represent a chance for these countries to make their mark on the global maps of tomorrow and remind us that the brightest innovations are just around the savanna corner.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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