After my initial response to the social media criticisms of the National Cathedral, Accra, designed by David Adjaye, I have now written a bit more, now as an Op-ed in the New York Times (Sunday Review) in print on April 15, 2018. If you want to know what more I said about this stuff, here is the link to the online edition. If you disagree, say so!
Dear Prof. Chika Okeke-Agulu,
I read your take on the proposed National Cathedral in with disbelief especially from a learnered professor of Arts. The African story has been told through the lens of the west for centuries. Our cultural identity and spirit have been scared to the extent that today's African is a pale shadow of who we truly are. Africa is awashed with spiritual spaces and we are indeed the most spiritually inclined people on earth from Christianity or Islam to Paganism...you name it. I am a Ghanaian and an architect and I've had the chance to hear Sir David Adjaye speak on this commission in the same room in Accra. We must celebrate our kind indeed and the achievement of Sir Adjaye is worth celebrating. But, whatever the excuse or reason may be to justify this project, it is simply not turnable in my opinion. I would have thought a civic space such as a national musuem or a bibliotheque - to promote and project the Ghanaian and the African both on the Continent and in the Diaspora will be the most logical investment for future generations. The African landscape is littered with religious sectarianism, driving deep division into our social fabric. Architecture has shaped societies for centuries and we must be seen to put this powerful tool to better use.
Gideon Djakumah (Accra, Ghana)
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