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”.
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.
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.|
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
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.
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