Colonization in Africa brought along with itself, an assorted bag of spoiled sweets but the worst of them all was the robbery of the African mind. When you rob an artist of his/her mind, you take away their self-respect and the desire to salvage his/her art, consequentially in time…they become lost in time. We do have a rich art and architectural history and only recently are we witnessing a more blossoming hope of self-realization and proud identity in our craft.
I personally embraced my passion for architecture while completing my master’s program in interior design at ‘The Florence Design Academy’s in Italy. When given class projects, I had a strong innate desire to direct the creativity of my work along the lines of my origins in Africa, but I could not find enough rich material on the subject as I would have desired. In order to satiate my growing appetite for architecture and its history, I settled for the study of other great architectural civilizations, some of which I immensely enjoyed such as Japanese architecture, “big shout to Tadao Ando, lol”. As wonderful as these other architectural cultures may be, what about mine? I daresay I have the raw ability to be as great as the greats, but the documented greats bear little physical resemblance to me.
What should this mean to Africans? Should we be bear a grudge against dead colonial powers? Maybe we should fight to receive more reparation for all the injuries bore? Or drag the children of the old colonial powers by their teeth to the international courts to reclaim some of the art forms stolen, such as the Queen Mother Pendant Mask held at the British Museum? Or humble ourselves and ask for more free alms from wealthier civilizations?
I don’t know about ‘you’ the reader, but I know what I will be doing. I understand that fighting the past is going backwards, the children of the colonial sweet bringers and bible huggers have little or nothing to do with their fathers. Every man, woman and child is responsible for his/her individual life. So I simply take all of it as nothing more than a history lesson, I assume a clean canvas, and I will continue to hone my craft as best as I can. Perhaps one day, one my children’s children might dust off an old African history art book with my name on the covers, Christopher Igbojekwe, and see his/her reflection .