Professor Karel Bakker was a voice of clarity in the chaos of my early explorations of what it meant to be an African architect. I met him at an ArchiAfrika Educational Network conference in Accra, and he left a lasting impression. I’m sad I will not get to meet him again.
Recently I’ve been thinking of perhaps doing my PhD closer to home, and South Africa came to mind when I remembered Prof. Bakker telling my friends and I about funding opportunities at his University of Pretoria.
At the that conference , he said something’s that have stayed with me – about being African and loving Africa being deeper than the colour of your skin. About how diverse the peoples and architectures of Africa are, and how that meant an African architecture had to go beyond the visual… A sentiment I agree wholeheartedly with as I search for my identity and place(s) as an African architect in this world.
His death also reminds me of one of my biggest failings as a person, something I’m always saying I’ll fix… which is keeping in touch with people I’ve met and liked/ admired. At that same conference, I rubbed shoulders with giants of academia in the field of the architecture of Africa. I promised to write, and I haven’t. I’m fixing that tonight.
Thoughts and prayers with the family in these difficult times.