Saturday, March 10, 2018

David Adjaye's New National Cathedral in Accra, Ghana

David Adjaye, National Cathedral, Accra

The Ghanaian David Adjaye, arguably the most exciting architect working today, has revealed his plan for the National Cathedral, Accra. From the look of the renderings, this promises to be one hell of a church building. My first thought, on seeing the drawings, is polyphonic song. In any case, there are many reasons why this project has far-reaching implications. It signals a new dawn for architecture in West Africa, a region that is largely bereft of any truly significant architectural landmark, despite that their governments have on occasion spent humongous amounts of money on building projects. Don't even let me start on the sad case of Abuja...This is hoping that this will be one of many public buildings designed by Sir David and other architects of note from the region and beyond...
Oh, yesterday, I saw a few Nigerian facebook critics bellyaching about the Accra project, saying in sum that it makes no sense to spend a good chunk on a religious building, when such resources could be spent on research educational and medical institutions. Someone claimed money for the cathedral is borrowed from China. My take? Cheap, easy, predictable argument. But I wonder if these folks confuse Ghana for Nigeria. The fact that Nigeria is bumbling along, riven by one religious or ethnic crisis after another, fueled by feral corruption in the highest and lowliest of places, does not mean that all of Africa is afflicted equally by such malaise. Nor is Ghana infested to the same level as Nigeria by the plague of new-age pentecostalism and megapastormania. Ghana is truly rising; you see it in the attitude of its people and its governing class.
David Adjaye, Slavery Museum, Cape Coast

And it is building secular and yes religious projects. The same Sir David designed the National Museum on Slavery and Freedom in Cape Coast and Ghanaian educational institutions are not as shabby as their Nigerian peers--or else why are Nigerian wealthy class sending their children there? So, these Nigerian social media critics should face their sorry country and leave Ghana to dream big and soar and build and consolidate the socio-political and economic gains it has continued to make since the past two decades or so.

Read about the Accra project here

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Ghanaians disagreed with your article as well. Many people do not think a cathedral should be built - there ARE more important and pressing needs.