Dr. Geci Karuri-Sebina is a futurist, urban planning thinker, and the author of Innovation Africa: Emerging Hubs of Excellence. She's a faculty member at Singularity University South Africa with a focus on urban futures, including smart cities, networks, urban planning, governance and development, and innovation systems. She's an associate of The South African Cities Network and had worked with The National Treasury, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, and the University of California, Los Angeles Advanced Policy Institute.




In this conversation we talk about:

  • The value and importance of speaking your truth, and how she learned that in childhood.
  • Her journey from Kenya to the United States, and then to South Africa.
  • Her experiments with architecture, physics, and computer science.
  • Why urban planning was more appealing to her than architecture.
  • The issues that architecture doesn't address.
  • Her approach to foresight and future thinking.
  • Smart cities, and what constitutes bad urban design.
  • Her work with Dr. Bayo Akomolafe.
  • And decolonizing our knowledge and ways of knowing.


I loved hearing about Geci's use of different foresight practices to imagine different futures and different possibilities for the future. But what really stayed with me is how dire the situation is — with urbanization outpacing our predictions and our ability to plan, and giving rise to shortages and unplanned solutions that may be less than ideal. We need every tool in our creative toolbox to make sure our cities grow to be a place of diversity, creativity, and opportunity, rather than their opposite.


This episode is especially rich with resources and references, so I wanna encourage everyone listening to check the show notes. We are fairly meticulous at listing and providing links to every article, book, person, or resource mentioned in the episode.


We have close to a dozen weekly episodes already lined up for you with thinkers, designers, makers, authors, and entrepreneurs who are working to change our world for the better. So follow this podcast on your favorite podcast app, or head over to to subscribe.


And now, let's jump right in with Dr. Geci Karuri-Sebina.




[4:24] Life in the Present

[7:05] Early Childhood Lessons

[10:02] An Intercontinental Journey

[13:58] A Sense of Dismissal

[16:59] A World of Futures and Foresight

[19:21] Creating a Culture of Futures Thinking

[23:32] An Unpredictable Future

[26:22] An Appreciative Practice

[34:33] What Does Good Look Like?

[37:18] Smart Cities and Design Thinking

[41:44] Capacity to Decolonize

[47:09] A Poetic Collaboration

[50:50] A Short Sermon