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How Terra Kulture Came About And The Exceptional Woman Behind It

If you’re a lover of African art, culture and a good time, then chances are that you’ve gone to Terra Kulture before or heard of it.

Located in Victoria Island, Lagos, the privately-owned educational and recreational centre has a mini library or information centre on Nigeria and Africa. Also available are a restaurant where Nigerian cuisine is served, a bookstore and a cultural venue, which hosts exhibitions of Nigerian art, theatre, book readings and language classes in the three major Nigerian languages: Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba. Every year, Terra Kulture also hosts an art auction and the Taruwa festival of Performing arts.

Fela and the Kalakuta Queens play held at Terra Kulture. Photo credit: Nightlife Ng


So how did this unique place come about in Lagos?

Nigerian lawyer Bolanle Austen-Peters returned to Nigeria after working with the United Nations and saw there was a yawning gap in the Nigerian arts space begging to filled. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Guardian Life, she said:

“As an expatriate, you tend to visit a lot of touristic sites and destinations when you’re abroad. Typically, I used to take my children, we’d go to art centres, we’d go to galleries, we’d go to museums. And I recognised there was a lack of that in Nigeria.”

Bolanle Austen-Peters. Photo credit: Annie Roberts

Asides from that, she also saw the need to teach the language which she believes is pivotal to the identity of any country. Like every great creative mind, she was moved to find a solution to the problem, saying:

“In relation to identity, I asked myself the question, what makes you a Nigerian? It is typically about the food, their art, their theatre and all those things constitute their culture and the language. That’s why I decided to put together Terra Kulture.”

Terra Kulture became the heart of learning the Nigerian culture through the elements listed above. Regardless of this start to a worthy cause and the ripple effects it has had on the Nigerian art scene, Austen-Peters still considers the appreciation of her brainchild as well as the industry it stems from as ‘a work in progress’. Citing the Nigerian music industry as an example, she says:

“We started about 15 years ago, I remember when we started, Nigerian music was non-existent apart from the older generation like Sunny Ade, I.K Dairo and people like that… But the interesting thing is that in the last decade or so, it’s really caught on. If you know what happens in the music industry, you can hardly go to any party where it’s not 99.9% Nigerian music that and that is even across borders in West Africa.”

Inside Terra Kulture. Photo credit: Hip Africa

To celebrate International Women’s Day this month, Guardian Life has selected exceptional women who have, in their own ways, contributed immensely to the development of different aspects of life in Nigeria. Bolanle Austen-Peters is not only an exception, she is an enigma who has proved herself with a successful career in promoting and retaining the Nigerian culture.

Read all about the enigma as she covers the magazine today. It is available at all vendor stands nationwide.

In case you missed the behind-the-scenes video for our cover star, you can check it out below.

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