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ARCHITECTURE AND THE ORIGINS OF MODERNITY IN AFRICA ing the rapid changes taking place among the modernisms, modern lives and modernities of the continent as part of the international economy. In addition, the exhibition explore and convey to the viewer visual representations of the modes of social relations among people, corporations, organizations, and governments with varying agendas in different countries around the continent. We are talking of, thus, an observation of ways of life in the transitioning African communities, neighbourhoods, villages, cities and countries. The position of this paper will be summed up briefly in the three points below. First, the exhibition shows what Jürgen Habermas rightly describes as “Modernity: An Unfinished Project”.1 The evidence supporting Habermas’ thesis is overwhelming, and it demonstrates two dominant kinds of global architectural productions: the productions of the well-to-do middle classes and the productions of the ‘underprivileged classes’ with little or no contribution from architects.2 We need only examine the images from the ghettos, bidonvilles, slums or townships in Dakar, Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Maputo or Johannesburg featured in this show to comprehend how millions of people still live: without running water, electricity, paved streets, appropriate sanitation facilities, drainage, schools and hospitals, to understand what Habermas meant by “unfinished”. Moreover, historians of modernism have told us that there was a gradual progress from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century in the development of modern architecture. This reading of African modernisms conflicts with Robert Venturi et al.’s Learning from Las Vegas, and Complexity and Contradictions. It also conflicts with Charles Jenck’s Language of Postmodernism and Heinrich Klotz’s Postmodern Architecture as well as with the conceptual work of Jean-François Lyotard.3 In this respect we are by no means overlooking the aesthetic developments from the late nineteenth century through to the end of World War II, when modernism swept the world. Keeping the aesthetic appreciations of the early twentieth century in mind, this exhibition shows how Africa is still on the march towards the basic goals of modernity. Let us expand on one example that grounds the material of this exhibition in the rise of early modernity in the eighteenth century. When the end of apartheid in South Africa ushered in a democratically elected government in an evolving multi-racial society that the late President 221 By Nnamdi Elleh NNAMDI ELLEH, Ph.D., Coordinator of Master of Science and Ph.D. Programs in Architecture, School of Architecture & Interior Design, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. This exhibition at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark is timely. It runs over the summer of 2015, but in broader terms it takes place at a time of transition for the socio-political practices of the continent, and it presents one crucial challenge: How should we read and understand the plethora of architectural forms developing in different rural and urban areas of the continent? Using a few visual examples, this essay takes a position that considers local, regional, national, continental and global capitalist experiences in order to address this question. The objects and the social spaces represented in this Danish sponsored Historic Africa Show form a kaleidoscopic ensemble of images illustrat


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