Cosmopolitizing traditional architecture to create a tourism advantage is Tourism Icon, Wanle Akinboboye’s Tourism Product of the Week

In discussing his 17th Tourism Product of the Week, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye spoke about the architectural style that can be adopted by African tourism facilities.

He noted that, when visiting countries in Asia, many tourists expect to see (and stay within) a particular style of architecture that is influenced by the people’s cultural beliefs.

* Otunba Wanle Akinboboye

“That is why, in Hong Kong, you see high-rise buildings with a visible space carved into their upper floors, a particular space designed so dragons can fly freely through the sky unhampered by the presence of such tall buildings. The Japanese traditional architecture focuses on paper houses, which medium takes account of the earthquakes that have ravaged that country since the dawn of time. In South America it’s architecture is driven by a fusion of the architectural styles brought by the colonizers with the local architecture. It features elements such as ornate facades, arches, courtyards and religious symbolism. The use of local materials, such as adobe and stone, adds to its distinctiveness.

“In Africa our traditional houses make use of a material that is also used in nature by ants and termites. These insects use mud to construct anthills from earth and their spit that stand the ravages of time even though these mighty anthills are exposed to the elements.

“When anyone thinks of African dwellings what comes to mind are mud huts, dwellings that are made of mud bricks and covered by thatched roofs. While the uninformed eye may think all mud huts are the same, the most observant can see, for example, that the style of mud huts in southern Nigeria are more box – like than the curved huts found in northern Nigeria.

“It is also of note that the thick walls of these mud huts ensure the huts are kept cool and protect those staying inside them from the hot African sun.”

Otunba Akinboboye however opined that, while presenting the best of African architecture, steps should be taken to ensure that such African architecture are upgraded and made cosmopolitan if we want to meet the expectations of modern international tourists.

Although many of these tourists want to experience new and novel things, not all expect to step back in time and comfort, simply because, they are enjoying an ‘African cultural experience’.

He noted that, at the Resort he founded (La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort), some of the accommodation consists of luxury mud huts. The interiors of these huts have however been made cosmopolitan without deviating from their core African theme. The features inside these air-conditioned huts include swimming pool and televisions. Their decor is distinctly African.

Inside some other huts at his Resort, which he refers to as tree houses, the use of bamboo exteriors are evident, but still contains all the mod cons of modern living. He mentions that visitors to the Resort are fascinated by these structures and they are a value added to the African themed resort he has created.

Otunba Akinboboye mentioned that we should remember that international tourists visit foreign countries for sights, sounds and experiences they cannot get where they live normally. What’s the point of going to Nigeria to stay in a hotel that is part of a chain and which is a replica of what exists in your home country? However, these tourists still expect to enjoy the same comfort they would get in a hotel or resort in the developed world.

Otunba Akinboboye also mentioned that, by using traditional structures in our tourism facilities, we create employment for our local artisans, who are experts at building these type of structures. So we will be giving employment to those that make mud bricks and thatch roofs, just as it is at his Resort, where African drums are used as doorbells; to give good employment to the makers of traditional musical instruments.

La Campagne Tropicana Forest River and Beach Resort built the first Mud house in the world with an indoor pool.

“Africa can only progress when it learns to take advantage of its own advantages,” Otunba Wanle Akinboboye added.

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