Friday, September 09, 2016

WHEN ARCHITECTS GATHERED IN BENIN CITY


On Thursday 4th August 2016, the ancient city of Benin, Edo State  hosted the second edition of the Nigerian Institute of Architects Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture series which was initiated by Immediate Past National President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (2013 – 2015), Arc. Waheed Niyi Brimmoh is to enable the generality of national Architects benefit from the wealth of experience from Past Presidents.

In 2015, the maiden edition of the series held in Abuja with Chief Dr Alex Ekwueme, 2nd President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (1967 – 1968), Past President of ARCON and first civilian Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the lecturer. Befittingly his lecture topic was “Architecture: Management & Participation of Architects In Nigeria’s Political Class”.  



 
The 2016 edition which held at The Emporium, JBS Estate, Government Reservation Area (GRA) was organized to coincide with the eighty seventh birthday anniversary activities of the lecturer, Arc (Chief) Vivian Thomas Uku, 7th President of the Institute (1975 – 1977). Arc Uku was also instrumental in the formation of the NIA Mid Western Chapter in 1975 and has also served as its Chapter Chairman.
 
One of the founding thirteen members of the Nigerian Society of Architects (as it was then known), Arc. Uku was present at its formal launch at the old Legislative Building, Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos on April 1, 1960. It was also quite interesting to discover that the major political heavyweights and founding fathers of the country namely Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Tafawa Balewa and Chief Obafemi Awolowo were all present at the launch. Another discovery was that the lecturer/celebrant designed the official logo of the Institute which is still in use. Also credited to him is the design of the coat of arms for the then Midwestern State later known as Bendel State before its split into Edo and Delta States respectively.
And to think Arc Vivian Uku is 'just' eighty seven years old
 
Cross section of guests
His lecture topic interestingly was “The Nigerian Institute of Architects: Its Origin and Early Years”. Arc. Uku attributed the choice of his topic on the need to acquaint most of the present membership about the Institute’s humble beginnings and the efforts and sacrifice made by the founding fathers. Arc. Uku took the audience down what was a pleasant memory lane of not only the Institute, but as well as his education and his illustrious career in both the public and private sectors. An interesting portion of the lecture was when he related how his firm usually received unsolicited letters of commission via mail! Imagine that! Bring back those days NOW was the collective thought of the audience!!
 
L-R: NIA President, Arc. Oliver Braide, the celebrant/ lecturer Arc.(Chief) Vivian Thomas Uku with his wife, Dr. P.E.B Uku, Representative of the Edo State Governor, Arc. Framk Evbuomwan, Commissioner of Housing and Urban Development. 
 
Arc. (Chief) Vivian & Chief P.E. Uku during the reading of his citation
 
Some of ceremony’s highlights included;
1.      The citation of Arc Vivian T. Uku was read by his daughter, Dr. Teri Okoro, a chartered architect based in the United Kingdom. I believe that this must have been such a huge moment of pride for the celebrant.  
2.      Arc. Uku is undeniably a quintessential man of style. He ensured that there was a jazz interlude to herald his arrival at lectern. That was so cool!! 
3.     With his rendition of the National anthem, the singing skills of Arc. David Majekodunmi - Chairman Student Affairs Committee was not in doubt. In the unlikely event that Arc. Majekodunmi (who also served as the master of ceremony) tires of architecture, he could easily pick up a career in opera singing!


4.      A dance interlude by the Inneh Cultural Group that showcased the majesty and rich culture for which the Benin kingdom is renowned
Members of the Inneh Cultural Troupe entertaining the audience
A golden opportunity was missed to enquire from the celebrant the origins of his first name, Vivian. In fact he was the subject of a heated argument among members of my study group during our preparations for the Professional Practice Exams when we discussed the Institute’s past presidents. Most of us had erroneously thought that Arc (Chief) Uku was a female!

It was a pleasurable experience to finally attach a name and face to many of Benin-City’s prominent structures. Some of such buildings include the St. Albert’s Catholic Church in the University of Benin Campus, an excellent example of tropical architecture in the region, the Edo House located on the busy Akpakpava Road that once housed the city’s branch of the famous Kingsway Stores. Other designs undertaken include the headquarters for the New Nigerian Bank (also defunct) presently occupied by Unity Bank along Mission Road and another similar building for the New Nigerian Bank located along the New Lagos Road.  
This made me smile! Ah! The glory days of 2-point perspective drawings


Lists of projects
 

The NIA Edo State Chapter must be commended for organizing a superlative event to celebrate one of Nigeria’s architectural icons. Arc. Vivian Thomas Uku’s lecture could be regarded as a rallying call to the Nigerian architect to build a desirable and formidable future in spite of present challenges using the springboard of the profession’s glorious past.  I figure that Arc. Vivian Thomas Uku may just have been influenced in the choice of the lecture topic by this quote:

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go”  - James Baldwin

Arc. & Mrs Uku with  family members and some National Executive Council members of the NIA
 
L-R: Arc Sonnie Ohenhen, Chairman NIA Edo State Chapter, Arc. Emmanuel Dike, Chairman International Affairs Committee, Arc. O.C. Majoroh, Past President NIA, Arc. Abimbloa Ajayi, Honorary Secretary General, NIA (in yellow skirt suit)
 
 

Arc. David Majekodunmi (Chairman, Student Affairs Committee) addressing members of his constituency, the future of Nigerian architecture.
 
I couldn't resist adding this picture. Are those hybrids of a T-square and sword being crossed?
 
Newly inducted members sworn in during the dinner  ceremony held after the lecture
With two amazons of the profession  during the dinner ceremony- L: Arc. Abimbola Ajayi,(Honorary General Secretary NIA) R: Arc. Jemi Ogisi, (President, Female Architects of Nigeria)
 
 Photocredits: NIA Edo State Chapter, Vervepoints

 

2 comments:

  1. Great one Madam... I think 😊 you consider a career in journalism...

    ReplyDelete