A Tanzanian-born British architect, 49-year-old David Adjaye, is one of seven finalists shortlisted by the Barack Obama Foundation last December to develop his Presidential Library.
US President Obama leaves office at the end of 2016 and, as has been the practice for all former presidents for the last eight decades, he’s tasked with commissioning an architect to construct his library, which typically houses papers, records, gifts, artefacts, museum exhibits and other historical materials pertaining to his political and professional career.
Adjaye’s impressive work includes the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver Colorado, the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, Norway and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture still under construction in Washington, D.C.. President Obama should just go ahead and give a “brother” the job.
It would also be great if Obama broke with tradition as he has so many times, after all he re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba after a 55-year freeze and pulled off the Iran nuclear deal that has seen sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations on Iran lifted in return for Iran agreeing to halt it’s nuclear programme, long believed to be aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
So passing up South Chicago, where he lived and worked for many years for Kogelo, for his ancestral home in Kenya wouldn’t be such a big deal!
Besides, according to a FAQ on Presidential Libraries, “a former President or his representatives choose the architects, or an architectural firm/design team to build the Presidential Library, are solely responsible for choice of the final location for the Library building and also for the construction costs,” so basically, Obama has the final say on where his library should be built.
Kogelo is very much his home too and close to his heart.
His father grew up and is buried there, and Obama has also visited a few of times; in 1987, 2004 and again in 2006, two years before he was elected President. During his July 2015 trip to Kenya, he did speak of his hopes of visiting Africa more often as a private citizen once he leaves office, and that would be a lot easier if he had a vacation home and that library right in Kogelo.
Think about what that would do for Kenyan tourism, with a few travelers having already visited over the course of his presidency. Obamamania is still alive and well and Kenya’s safaris and other tourist destinations in the region would benefit from the publicity.
In much the same way the Obamas have opened up the White House, with Michelle Obama saying it was their mission to make as many people as possible feel welcome to the “People’s House”, the library too would be open to writers and artists across Africa to showcase their work - from poems and short stories to paintings would be featured.
This would also be Obama’s way of appeasing disgruntled Kenyans and indeed Africans whose high hopes of their African brother’s appointment to the most powerful office in the world are yet to be met.