Alumni Spotlight Blog: Ahmad Buba
Alumnus Ahmad Buba studied a master’s degree in Architecture between 2013 and 2015 at the University of Lincoln. After completing his studies, he worked in an architectural firm in Nottingham before returning to Nigeria to rebuild schools in his home city of Maiduguri which has been devastated by the armed group Boko Haram.
He was recently profiled in an Al Jazeera documentary titled Ahmad the Architect, which followed him through the process of building 24 schools and 14 mosques across the region.
Ahmad said: “The highlight of my career has been the opportunity given to me to build schools. The Northeast of Nigeria where I grew up has been ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency. Boko Haram translates to ‘Western education is forbidden’. The insurgents have destroyed over 1,400 schools and forced more than 3 million children out of school in the region.
“Building schools is the most powerful tool for long term resistance against Boko Haram. The schools are designed to accommodate the victims of the insurgency who are mostly orphans. The school is the only weapon that plays significant role in their lives. It helps them to overcome their trauma and it also helps them to have hopes about their future.
“In Nigeria, no matter how knowledgeable you are, you rarely get the platform to showcase your talent, especially if you belong to the younger generation. The major challenge in my career is other professionals in the field of architecture. They often question my approach to design and construction because it is different to the conventional approach.
“The former Governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, gave me the platform to actualise my dreams when no one believed in me and my approach to architecture. He gave me the freedom to do whatever I think is good, which resulted in building schools and many other community development projects.”
Discussing his time at the University of Lincoln, Ahmad said: “The University of Lincoln gave me the opportunity to engage in advanced study in architectural design and research, this helped me to develop competence to become inter-culturally and internationally proficient. Most of my research and projects were on how to develop and improve communities. I am now happily putting them into practice.
“My fondest memory of Lincoln is my first time seeing the School of Architecture building. Architects always have a building they fall in love with, mine for sure is the School of Architecture building at the University of Lincoln. I still feel connected to it now.
“It was a big change being away from home to study in the UK. Fortunately, the UK is tolerant and multicultural country where you find people from almost every country on earth. I met a lot of interesting people and I learned about other part of the world.”
When asked what advice he had for new students beginning their studies, Ahmad said: “Despite what you may think, university is not just about hitting the books. They should consider all four dimensions of life as they strive to educate themselves – physical, spiritual,
intellectual, and social. They should spend time each day developing each of these four dimensions.” You can watch Ahmad the Architect: Rebuilding Schools in Northeast Nigeria on YouTube.