Convos “in” Architecture…


Photo cred. @SambaYonga (Instagram)

My heroes are often female and good at either the written, or the spoken word. Amazingly, my 20-something friend, Efemia, is just that; my hero. She’s two teaspoons creative, one cupful of talent, a drop of misfit and all comic.

As a published writer, she has also been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for her works of shortstories; Chicken and Lusaka punk.

My love of reading is what drew me to Efemia. She’s of course Zambian born but raised outside.

Our conversations are always interesting and it’s because of the same that I chose to share one such conversation we had recently on life, writing and architecture.

Really hope that you enjoy it.


Efemia: Do you work for an architectural firm in LSK?

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Yes, I actually do. Is that so obvious?

Efemia: Haha. Well you post a lot of design stuff.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: It must tick off some people I suppose. I reckon you wouldn’t like reading my blog then because it’s all design there.

Efemia: It doesn’t annoy me. It’s interesting. I wish Zambia had more interesting architecture. There are a few interesting buildings in the city centre.

I think she was just being sweet, but thanks for saying it anyway.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Appreciated. I like the new crop of architects we have at the moment. We’ll definitely see a change in the architectural landscape momentarily…. then you’ll love what I have to say in my blogs. Give it a read whenever you can.

Efemia: I will. So do you ever work on smaller projects?

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: I do. It’s everything Architectural that I do.


MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Hahaha! Okay, maybe not that small. The smallest of projects that come to mind are: a guardhouse and a bus shelter that I did much recently.




Bus Shelter

Efemia: I didn’t know those things needed architects. That’s so cool.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Personally, I think this is where we get it wrong; picking what needs an architect’s attention and what doesn’t. Even a wall fence design needs one. The council actually needs to certify drawings for such. You find that all these measures are already in place but where we lack is at execution.

Efemia: I think there’s a huge misconception about what architects do.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Yup, and then there’s also that.

Efemia: Yeah I think quality is a big issue. Horrendous finishing on some buildings.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: That last bit is mostly attributed to one of two things.

  1. No cash by the owner.
  2. No proper understanding of a finish by the contractor.

Needless to say, she has a mind that is constantly racing and in search of excitement as is seen by her next comment.

Efemia: I work in a sieve building. If you stand inside, in several places you can get rained on.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Hahaha! Wait, do you reckon that was part of the design? Alas! It sounds fascinating to me, but only if that’s by design.

Efemia: The rain corners? Maybe. It would fit with the watery theme of the building. There is a seasonal lake at the entrance we have to walk through.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: How does the rain seep through? Holes in the roof, maybe? And where’s that if I may ask?

Efemia: It’s tricky to explain but the bathrooms don’t have windows. Instead they didn’t build one wall all the way up.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: There are those modern buildings that have some parts exposed for maximum nature experience, and with flora in them so I automatically thought your building was one of them.

Efemia: Haha. Think less eco, fancy more unkempt that houses dodgy UK company that overworks cheap local Labour.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Shouldn’t that even be illegal? I know that place experiences some bad weather. What do you do for the dodgy UK company that over works cheap local labour?

Efemia: Haha. Nice try. No one knows what I do. It’s too embarrassing.

We know that Efemia is a super hero writer by night but no one knows what she is by day, but herself.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Hahaha! Whatever pays the bills, right? Any new stories in the pipeline?

Efemia: No actually, which is really bad. Suffering from creative block. Hopefully it will pass.

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Please don’t say that. It’ll pass.

Efemia: Trust!

MrKapaluTalksDesignToo: Otherwise, you need a vacation to help you get past it.

Efemia: Writing holiday would be fun. I’ve never explored Zambia. Only been back here since Sept. Samfiya looks cool. I do love the sea. The waterfalls up north also seem pretty exciting

At this point the conversation turns into a banter on some holiday destinations in Zambia, the coming Easter holiday, road trips and drivers’ licences.

Efemia says, “I should learn to drive so I can get around easier, Road trips!” … and likens unlicensed drivers to land pirates.

It’s obvious just how easily humor comes to her and without much effort.

If you’re interested in reading “Chicken”, just type – “Efemia Chela” – in your search engine and a PDF of it is one of the first things that will pop up.

As always, thanks for reading.



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