When I first heard about David Adjaye, I wasn’t necessarily moved, to know, understand and or
to satisfy my usual innate curiosity. But I had always been a man with a dominant streak of
curiosity, so why was I laid back this time when I had heard about him?
Well, perhaps I had been so consumed by multiple tasks needing completion. Or, maybe, Architecture, a profession often designated too elitist, was one that rarely tickled my fancy. So, about six months after first
hearing the name, I would undertake a basic research one Saturday morning, which turned out
to be the beginning of a virtual tour into the life of this giant!
David Adjaye, born in Tanzania to a Ghanaian diplomat, he would be furried through a typical
diplomatic culture that would see him become variegated by a variety of the people’s group he
had had to interface with, together with his parents while trotting from one country to the other;
David was in Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon before moving to Britain at age nine. But this
diversity, as he indicated in an interview, is what would later coalesce to reflect in the rather
surreal Architectural masterclass pieces he has to his name today.
Even though I came to hear about him through his most recent foray in Ghana, and via the
National Cathedral designing, the National Museum of African American History and Culture,
located in Washington D.C. USA, is one of his handiworks. He has been a recipient of multiple
awards and honors including an appointment as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
in 2007 for services to British architecture.
The sincerity in speech, the quality of thought, the calmness of his personality is what endears
David Adjaye to me; he certainly retains the complete meaning of the dictum, ‘ahwene pa
3nkasa’, to wit, good beads do not rattle.
Yet with all my digging, I have totally failed at’demystifying’ inscrutable Architect Adjaye; he is simply a man of remarkable quality. With the multiple architectural works he’s begun doing now, and while now domiciled in Ghana, he has no doubt evoked an infectious sense of quality as much as a sense of urgency amongst
Ghanaian architects, and we are the more rich by this. For people of professions other than
architecture, we may have to tap into this inspiration to boot.
May the impact of David Adjaye endure for long!
By Gilbert Torsu