Editorial | Mar 28,2020
After my friend earned his first degree, he was assigned to one of the government ministries. It was during the Imperial era. Immediately after he reported to his duty, he started to face challenges. Being a graduate of management, he had to prove that his field of study was worth attending in school.
Among his efforts to prove so was an attempt to draw up a standard hierarchical organisational chart for the institution, which immediately backfired. It proved impossible to comprehensively draw up the proper structure of the organisation, and external institutions it dealt with, as silly as this sounds.
Then he thought outside of the box and came up with a circular organisational chart that drew up the institution's organisational structure to show in rank who reports to whom and to which area each employee belongs. Given the lack of thought given to organisational theory and human power at the time, this was no small feat.
Thanks to his energy and will to succeed and the capacity to learn and adapt, he thrived through the challenges despite the ensuing pressure. At last, coupled equally with his adamancy, as his academic qualification, he was sponsored to study overseas to advance his career.
This is a story of devotion to whatever people put their minds to throughout their lives. It was also one that I told to a friend and his son, the latter of which recently graduated from a technical college. I underlined the challenges faced by college graduates when it comes to the realities of the labour market, not only compared to the past but also the realities of globalisation today, as the opportunities for and demands from every professional are becoming similar.
The craftsperson's duty is not only strictly adhering to the specific designs or standards but also to have a sense of planning, identifying basic components and tooling, and measuring and weighing opportunities. It is above all about developing through time a near complete knowledge and effective use of different types of emotional and hard skill.
It was then I brought up with my friend the 56-year-old Francis Kere, who rose up from being a carpenter to a pioneering designer of environmentally sustainable works, and eventually winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the first African to do as such. Kere became an icon, among many others, in his primary school in Gando village, in Burkina Faso, where he is from, with an innovative design combining local clay with fortified cement to form bricks that helped retain cooler air inside. It also had a wide, raised tin roof that protects the building from rain while helping the air circulate, creating a natural ventilation.
Kere did all but copied the architectural giants Gaudí, Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, with what they believed about the beehive, as a model for an ideal society and the natural architecture created by bees that come within reach of excellence. Kere also reminds one of the lasting influence of tireless professionals whose name has become ‘denominalised.’
Take Churrigueresque. It refers to extravagance and ornate architecture, especially that of 17th- and 18th- century Spain, and became a style after 17th-century architect and sculptor José Churriguera. It was owing to drive, attention to detail and the ruthless determination to put art and profession above everything else. Kere could get the same treatment, as could the rest of us.
Will is what stands between most of us and realising our career dreams and expectations. If it does not start to get hoped and worked for, from the very beginning, it starts to remain only a dream, and more so, as time goes by, we surrender to mediocrity.
PUBLISHED ON Apr 02,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1144]
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