176 in the Renaissance with the emergence of individualized architectural expression, or as far back as in Pharaonic times with the African genius Imhotep being the first world star architect. For the sake of clarity, in this current search for an answer to the question of ‘where we come from’, the emergence of modernity is assumed sometime in the early 19th century, with the emergence of industrialized building components and the up-scaling and global spreading of academic architectural production. By the mid to late 19th century, an increasing number of Africans went to Europe for trade visits and for academic studies. These Africans originated from the upper class of the society, and were often from royal descent. Coming back to Africa, these African princes, sultans, queens and princesses not only brought with them university degrees and European table manners, but also ideas about architecture. During the second half of the 19th century a wide range of villas and palaces built by African Royalty and elite thus saw the light. These buildings, to be found over the continent, share a strong departure from traditional residential architecture in terms of technology, typology and architectural appearance. The Ashantene of Kumasi erected a new palace before 1874, a neo-gothic mansion worthy of a Horace Walpole. Unfortunately, this building was destroyed in 1874 during a British punitive raid. Menelik II, the emperor of Ethiopia built his palace complex in Ad- Yugoslav, Chinese, North Korean and Cuban architects and engineers introduced socialist modernity into Africa next to the architects from Western Europe, Japan, North America and Israel. Possibly, Africa can claim to be the home of the most varied and cosmopolitan development of modern architecture in the world. As Nnamdi Elleh states, modernity and modern architecture in Africa is a composite of multiple stories brought in from the East, the West and the North.6 Yet this is not where Elleh’s interpretation of the African architectural history ends. It may well be that the history of African architecture of the modern period is strongly influenced from all the quarters of the compass, but the African reaction to these influences was far from absent, and over time, it created through a continued process of influence, adaptation, appropriation and reaction, its own strong memories. The fact that these have hardly been recorded stands cause of the lacunae in the common memory of the history of African architecture. EARLY AFRICAN ROYAL MODERNITY The origins of modern architecture are shrouded in the fogs of time. Depending on the applied definition of modernity, they may be found around 1920 with the emergence of the Modern Movement in Architecture in the Global North, in the 19th century with the architectural expression of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 18th century with the rationalized and encyclopaedic architecture of Enlightenment, Ashantene Palace at Kumasi, Ghana, ca 1870 (African Architecture Matters). House of Wonders, Zanzibar, 1888 (courtesy of Zanzibar National Archives). The Pagoda in Douala, Cameroon, ca 1910 (Danièle Diwouta-Kotto). Modern urban fabric with vernacular infill at the periphery of Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, 1930 (from Mittelholzer, Tchadflug).
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