The Old-Technology Building, Makerere University Kampala

“Giving tribute to the ‘man of an age.’ A pioneer, whose grace was not carried to another. This building stands in its own poise. The luster on its lurking steel bars and bruised concrete all atone to its power. It carries old stories which you will only hear if you wait long enough. Within each detail, each innovation, the shading elements, the grills, all spelling out innovation, technological stance. This structure makes a statement on technology in its own unbreakable toughness. Its beauty is not hidden from even a wavering eye. Now we read from its patina, that I have been here, I will stay. Those who got the chance to study from this marvel only refer to it with reverence. With the recent plans to renovate this building, it is only right that we give the building a deserving ovation. All hail, to a great masterpiece. We hope those accorded this task will do a good job.”- Kitumba John Mary

The ‘Old Building, at the College of Engineering Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) calls to mind Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart; analogous to a strong African male. With sturdy walls, exposed beams, columns and an unpretentious exterior with the concrete raw, it need not seek validation with pretty adornments, it simply is.

On a bright morning, one crosses the concrete bridge and walks into the airy vestibule where one is greeted by the magical pattern created as the sun filters through the perforated wall. Magical!

It’s the one thing that punctuates the hardness of that building (like Okonkwo smiling). The architect could have simply punched holes into the side of the building but I for one am grateful that he chose to give this “Okonkwo” nostrils that befitted him. It simply would not do to have him have a tiny insignificant one, no! Everyone would look at him and marvel at the size of his nose!

A tale has been told of a bomb that hit the building in an attempt to turn it to dust, but to no avail! It still stands strong to date. I find that little piece of information quite fascinating. Whether myth or truth, it speaks volumes of what people perceive of the building; strength!

 

Christine Matua, Student Member USA

Photo Credits: Timothy Latim @t_latim Instagram feed

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