The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.
Dele Adeyemo is the co-founder and director of architecture studio Pidgin Perfect. Pidgin Perfect aims to empower communities to shape the world around them through design. Dele presents his works as a process of ‘creative engagement’. He is launching the interactive site Creative Lagos this October, which is an open-source map that allows visitors to add events and places in Lagos.
You made creative forum The Power of ZA and are about to launch the online platform Creative Lagos. Tell us about them?
The Power of ZA was about exploring how creativity can transform a nation. At Pidgin Perfect, we seek to capture people’s imagination. Through this project, we looked at how a society facing the biggest challenges has used creativity in order for people to heal their wounds. To me, creativity poses positive questions; it takes people away from their entrenched positions.
What drew me back is the cultural beacon within the city of Lagos.
As for Creative Lagos, the project is set to launch on October 28. I’ve been excited to discover the creative scene in Lagos but it is not well-documented. Lagos is underestimated by the rest of the world but it has a huge human capital.
So we came up with the concept of an open-source map, where creative organisations can contact us and promote their space. We are also allowing them to express themselves on the challenges and opportunities of their work.
As a Scotsman and Nigerian, what brought you to the continent?
I’ve always been interested in the continent as a part of my personal history. I was born in Nigeria but moved at a young age due to the political unrest. I have vague memories of being a kid and playing in the streets and having friends there. Today, we are seeing a lot of hope. Stability is increasing which is making the continent more attractive. What drew me back is the cultural beacon within the city of Lagos.
It is important for us to know where we come from and claim Africa wholly.
There is definitely a new found confidence in creativity in the continent. People, who have African parents and moved to the United Kingdom or elsewhere for economic reasons, are now being drawn back. They grew up part African, part western. Africa is a part of them. There are so many opportunities; the quality of life is better; and I think creativity is helping transform the continent in that sense.
Who’s your African of the year?
I would like to nominate two people. The first one being David Adjaye. He is definitely someone I find inspiring. We do not have enough big African names in the architect world. I have the ambition of one day getting to his level. His work is very beautiful.
My African of the year would be the Senegalese Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop. I know it’s a bit retro but I recently read his book The African Origin of Civilization. I think that in order to know who you are as a person, it gives you a great strength knowing where you come from. It wasn’t something I had reflected on previously.
I also think it’s important for us Africans to be able to claim the entirety of the continent: for instance the Egyptians were African but we don’t tend to claim it as a part of Africa. See there has always been a scramble for Africa; China is leading the way today.
Africa’s creative resources will be the object of a scramble as well. It is important for us to know where we come from and claim Africa wholly because how are we going to enable people and countries to make the most out of that opportunity?
Follow Pidgin Perfect at @pidginperfect
Find out more about Creative Lagos at creativelagos.com
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica