University of Virginia Darden School of Business
Tell us about a location, real or fictional, that has shaped you in a meaningful way.
Tables made from charred wooden slabs filled the cavernous hall. The air smelt distinctly of pumpkin seeds and fermenting palm wine. The strains of Fela’s ‘beast of no nation’ could hardly be heard for the clamorous chatter of men and women who sat at the tables discussing politics, food, and the country’s prospects. I wondered why my mother had brought me here. She led me up a stairless granite slope and I glimpsed a world set apart from the one that had jarred on my senses.
When we stepped into the gallery, I was shocked to see that the paintings encased within the pretty frames were, in fact, ‘disturbing’. I expected to see flowers and statuesque portraits, and serene landscapes. Instead, rowdy market scenes and yam festival rituals screamed defiantly at me. I was relieved when my mother suggested we return downstairs to order a meal. As I sipped my tangy Chapman mocktail in the midst of the melee, I began to make sense of my emotions. My colonial-style education had taught me to dismiss the African aesthetic as dark and unprogressive. Thus, I had become blind to the progressive elements within my own culture: warmth, colour, and even pungency.
I had initially been startled by the spartan design of Terra Kulture, a culture...
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