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A Journey to the Past for the Future

Have you ever taken a trip down memory lane that dredged up all the wonders of your childhood and the things you may have taken for granted? CPDI invites you to join Felema Yemaneberhan, an architectural designer and interdisciplinary artist, on her introspective journey that highlights the not so known nuances of our current realities.
Her essay, titled We Wouldn't Be Here if They Just Told Us the Truth About Great Zimbabwe, calls out some of the shallow responses towards the recent Black Lives Matter movement, points to the instability of our colonial education's ivory tower, and urgently calls us to wake up and dismantle its building blocks and foundations. Her writing paints a picture of self-realisation wrapped in nostalgia and sentimentality. It evokes a mix of emotions in us the readers, ranging from elation to outright incredulity and keeps us glued to our screens.
As we scroll through text and images until there is none left, we get to the conclusion that we must all co…
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Would you send your kids to a "conventional concrete" school building or a sustainable Afrocentric one?

Education is a major part of our lives, from the time we're born to the time we die. Young children spend most of the hours in a day within the confines of school buildings. Conventional government-owned school buildings (at least in Nigeria) can easily be identified by the way they look - usually a rectangular block of classes with red brick walls or yellow painted concrete walls and green coloured doors, windows or roofs. If you've never seen one, two examples are shown below.

But have we ever stopped to ask ourselves, or even ask the children that spend most of their time in there, what experiences these buildings shape? Are children excited when they wake up in the morning, knowing that they would need to walk, cycle, take the bus or be dropped off by their parents at a rectangular plain building for the rest of the day? Or do they dread it and beg their parents to stay home instead?
Well, if the latter feeling is the more predominant one, architecture has the potential t…

One of the interesting facts about Igbo Architecture

Fusing Benin Culture into Playing Cards: An Afrocentric Expression

Expression is the act, process of making your thoughts, feelings, etc., known by speech, writing, or some other method or instance of representing in a medium. What makes such expression Afrocentric is when it emphasizes or promotes African culture and the contributions of Africans to the development of Western civilization or when it is basically centered on or derived from Africa or Africans... Such is the Benin themed playing cards designed by Osaze Amadasun.
Osaze Amadasun created these unique deck of playing cards that is themed around the ancient Benin Kingdom. Inspired by culture, the Bini Playing cards pays homage to the ancient kingdom of Benin & its classical works of art dating back to the 15th century.
"I'm creating the artwork for myself, and also for the people that are to come," - Mr Amadasun. Osaze Amadasun is an illustrator and designer. His works offer a comical and satirical look at society, often political or historical. He studied architecture at…

Elements of Traditional Hausa Architecture

Hausa architecture, as dictated by culture, is traditionally designed to be inward-looking in order to maximize privacy. Residential architecture is characterized by high walls with openings few and small, large courtyards, and entrance porches meant to welcome but keep out strange male visitors from the inner private quarters. These features usually have the double function of ensuring privacy, which is an important consideration in Hausa architecture. They also aid temperature regulation which is vital in the hot and arid regions of the West African Sahel where the Hausas are predominantly located.

The layout of a traditional  Hausa residence rarely takes a defined shape. This flexibility allows for expansion as needed as most households tend to be polygamous. However, there are certain features that are consistent in any layout no matter how big or small. These include “zaure” or "soro" and courtyard.

While flat roofs are considered typical of Hausa architecture, dom…


The rate of urbanization in Chad is low, with most of the people still living as cultivators and pastoralists in dispersed hamlets, cattle camps, villages, and oases. Old capitals of the sultanates and kingdoms (for example, Njimi, capital of the Kanem kingdom, Wara of the Ouaddaïsultanate, and Niere of the Tama sultanate) have dwindled in size and few historical structures remain except for some palaces and mosques. There is a significant variety of building styles, use of space, mobility patterns, and material culture across the ethnic groups and climatic conditions. In the countryside, the traditional house- and hut-building styles are maintained, although the construction of corrugated iron and concrete buildings has rapidly expanded. In the sparsely populated north, with its vast expenses of desert plains, distances are great between pasture areas and human settlements. Several nomadic groups live in tents and shelter structures. The sedentary cultivators in the south live in vi…