The aim of this symposium is to examine the situation of the creative economy in cities—specifically cities of sub‐Saharan Africa. In this introduction we set out the case for the need to ‘re‐describe’ the (much derided) phenomenon of the creative city. This task requires clarification of what is understood in academe and policy communities by the term ‘creative economy’, the pronounced growth of this sector, particularly in the global South, and its particular urban character. Secondly, in the face of conceptual and policy confusion we argue for the actually existing, and growing, importance of the urban creative economy. Thirdly, with this ground clearing achieved, we seek to frame, and focus on, the emergence of new research on the urban creative economy. Finally, we use the evidence from the symposium contributions to argue for a reformulation of the creative economy within African sub‐Saharan urbanization.