We’re delighted to feature Mr. Nsenda Lukumwena as our first Legacy Spotlight!
Nsenda is an architect and university lecturer. He studied architecture and urban planning in the Democratic Republic of Congo, France, as well as the United States. He first arrived in Japan as a graduate student majoring in environmental engineering and received his masters and PhD from Osaka University. Since then he has had a successful career as an architect and urban planner while contributing to his community.
Nsenda Lukumwena is the chief architect of his own company Designatelier-Da Architects & Associates. Designatelier-Da Architects specializes in private residences and apartments as well as retail spaces. He also has expereince designing schools and hospitals. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he has spent the last 36 years in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, here in Japan.
“I wanted my training and design work to be expressed and visible by standing on its own merit.”
NSENDA LUKUMWENA, PHD
WHY DID YOU START YOUR COMPANY?
There is nothing like working on your own. At a firm, much of what you do goes to the credit of the firm. I wanted my training and design work to be expressed and visible by standing on its own merit. I’m fortunate to have completed projects not only in Japan, but overseas in China, Togo, DRC, Guinea, Belgium.
As a social entrepreneur, I continually make an effort to strengthen the exchange between Africa and Japan through business, urban planning, and volunteer projects.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LIVING IN KOBE?
Kobe is very cosmopolitan. It’s a walkable city, fashionable, and interestingly there are more nationalities in one area than other cities in Japan. It’s the worship centers. Different from other port cities, anyone of any faith would feel comfortable because they have a place to go.
Architecturally speaking the proximity between the sea and mountains is amazing. Its own topography creates a beautiful landscape of light. You can see something similar in San Francisco.
Tell us about your COMMUNITY WORK.
As a social entrepreneur, I continually make an effort to strengthen the exchange between Africa and Japan through business, urban planning, and volunteer projects. I’m most involved in:
NPO GA (Groupe Alternative) Democratic Republic Congo – Founder and former Chairman
As a part of the Congolese diaspora, we wanted to contribute to the development of the Congo. We helped to create a ministry to which the government of the Congo could take advantage of the diaspora and support policymaking and social issues. We’ve done a lot to help the street children,
AfriKClean Japan – Chairman and Founder
We started AfriKClean to deal with and clean up the physical environment in areas in Africa. We focus on solid waste management and install toilets in local markets to improve hygiene. We also deal with energy by delivering solar power to urban, peri-urban, and rural areas in Kinshasa, Congo. Our next step is expanding to the economic environment by cleaning up corruption and encouraging governance and transparency.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Definitely Afrika Meets Kansai or AMeKa for short. We created this platform with the tagline Revisiting Afrika Proactively. People look at Africa from a single perspective of having its hand out. But we are in an age of the Africa that is a partner and no longer responsive but proactive. We can learn from each other. AMeKa is an annual festival supported by Kobe City and the African Diplomatic Corps in Japan. AMeKa showcases African culture through photo exhibition, music and dance performance, food and art vendors, and educational displays. The finale is a fashion show with models that fly in from Africa, Asia, and Europe, and collaboration between local and international designers. It’s fantastic to see the local Japanese and foreign community come together on this day.
Over the past decade, it has really grown and from that, we were able to partner more deeply with Kobe City Government, JICA, and TICAD which is under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Africa 4.0 Foundation to hold the Africa Kids Summit and Africa Business Forum.