This week’s episode of #WithChude unveiled the professional and personal life of multiple award-winning architect and philanthropist Olajumoke Adenowo. Described as Africa’s Starchitect by CNN, Olajumoke’s experience spans over 30years with the design and execution of over 70 buildings. In this exclusive interview with host and co-founder Joy Inc. Chude Jideonwo, Olajumoke discusses feminism in a male-dominated industry like architecture, people constantly putting her in a box, and the most significant lessons life has taught her.
Living a multi-faceted life where she functions in many roles as speaker, teacher, author, radio host, preacher, amongst others, Jumoke talked about how stifling it could be when people put her in a box, side-lining an integral part of her life which is architecture and design.
“I find it totally and completely frustrating, I wish there were stronger terms to use“, she said.
“It is the bane of my existence that people will insist on putting me in a box. It shouldn’t be a shock to the system that someone in the apostolic and prophetic can also have a day job. I’ve had to comfort myself with the fact that everybody defines you by what they draw from you. I am not holding it against them anymore because the vast majority encounter me as a speaker, teacher or preacher, but that does not change the fact that architecture is my passion. You don’t get a first distinction in architecture from the University of Ife and throw it away. God is not a waster of talents or resources. It would be a waste for God to say to me, do not practice architecture after the years I’ve spent honing and perfecting my craft,” she continued.
Olajumoke spoke extensively on her love for architecture and her recent appointment as Visiting Professor at the Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM) in Germany, where she was honoured as a Laureate and Guest Scientist at the Chair of Theory, History of Architecture, Art & Design.
Despite this remarkable feat, Olajumoke revealed that she and many other women in male-dominated industries continue to face roadblocks in their careers. She explained this in a powerful elucidation of the bible verse; it is not good for man to be alone. “When God said it is not good for man to be alone, he wasn’t talking about marriage. He was saying it is not good for man to be alone anywhere. It is not good for the male gender to be alone in the board room, in governance, commerce, and every other sector. Why? Well, first because the world population is 51.8% women. How can you side-line half of the world population, especially in important sectors like architecture? We have so much to give. There is so much energy put into blocking us and reminding us constantly that we are women as though it is some sort of disability. We are not asking for help; we just want men to step out of the way and let us be us.”