In August, the African Futures Institute (AFI) kicked off its inaugural Alero Olympio Memorial Lecture series with a presentation from Nigerien architect Mariam Kamara. The series is the first of what will become an annual occurrence in honor of the late Ghanaian architect, Alero Olympio, who was renowned for her commitment to using natural and local material like laterite, wood, and stone. As part of this series, the lecture will feature the works of architects that support women in design, champions the use of sustainable materials in construction and building methods, and provokes a new type of architectural vision in Africa.

Kamara– who is the founder and principal of atelier masomi, in Niamey, Niger– dedicated her AFI talk to highlighting sustainability, particularly in the context of African cultures. She calls out current construction and building practices that prioritizes building fast and cheap while disregarding the waste and pollution it creates. She also argues that the desire to appeal to certain aesthetics, particularly those of Western standards, results not only in unsustainable building practices, but also a loss in cultural identity.