When Lesley Lokko isn't travelling between cities and continents, she likes to say she thinks about architecture. I have had a chance to sit down with her and in a social conversation over wine (way too much wine) in a quaint suburb in Hyde Park Johannesburg and speak to her on her thoughts about architecture (apparently nowadays she has too few thoughts on it unless you can interest her in the connection between it and literature...
Anyway, when she isnt travelling in between the cities and continents, and lecturing, penning down her next novel, she is relaxing in her Ghana home that she built after many years fighting off the urge to become an architect.
She says... [Extract from Lesley Lokko]
‘I must have been almost crazy
to start out alone like my bicycle
pedalling into the tropics carrying
a medicine for which no one had found
the disease and hoping
I would make it in time.’
Richard Shelton, ‘The Tattooed Desert’
Don’t ask me why this wonderful poem with its wry wisdom reminds me of the year-long process of building my own home…but it does. After Sundowners was published in 2004, I decided to return to Accra where I’d grown up, buy land and build my own home – every architect’s dream. Of course, having trained in London, I thought that transferring my skills and (sort of) know-how to West Africa would be easy.
Like Shelton, I set out with house plans that no one could read and disaster promptly followed. Without the help and skill of Mr Jones, my seventy-something year-old foreman and the genius (not to mention patience) of the man known as Delta Kilo, my half-Swiss/half-Ghanaian contractor, and the help of Christina (architecte extraordinaire who taught me pretty much everything that seven years worth of training hadn’t)…well, we’d probably still be there, scratching our heads, looking at plans the wrong way up and wondering what to do. Here are a couple of pictures of the (painful) process…and the finished result. Let me know what you think!
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