- The idea is that there is a reciprocal and measurable financial component in the idea. This brings me to the unavoidable question as to how we could harness the benefits of this concept.
Aesthetic capital is a recent theory, which speaks of the inherent economic value in beauty. This may be a specific individual’s physical attractiveness, the modern office of a powerful attorney, designed with the Chinese feng shui philosophical principle of harmonisation; or even the basic design, functionality, and cleanliness of a city.
The idea is that there is a reciprocal and measurable financial component in the idea. This brings me to the unavoidable question as to how we could harness the benefits of this concept.
Undoubtedly, there are attempts at achieving a more than basic levels of aesthetics in architectural design in Tanzania. Yet the idea is to use this value to renovate the entire society, transforming it in such a way that we would become known for it. It should not merely be a lone individual expressing such values on a personal basis.
Once the idea catches on; and spreads, then all things created will carry its genes and the country becomes transformed. Then we begin to enjoy beauty for its own sake, if not for the worthwhile pursuit of the financial returns, which we may earn through it.
For us as writers, the poet carries this burden; for the most part. They strive for elegance and effectiveness in espousing truth. Those who have pursued beauty know that truth resides at its core; the two are inseparable.
This has led the impetuous onlooker to suffer countless heartache, because he or she is often fooled by the more superficial elements of beauty. But wise men know, that there is another and equally vital component to beauty, which is functionality; meaning, beauty must conform to some utilitarian purpose, which makes the pursuit worthwhile. This triumvirate of beauty, truth and functionality is the real essence of the Aesthetic Capital idea.
Those of us who have been to the Gulf States can attest to the almost unimaginable aesthetic appeal of the emirates. The entire affair leaves a specific ambiance lingering within our hearts; we wish to return, if only to see it again.
Such appeal begs the question as to what has been created here in Sub-Saharan Africa, which would cause others to marvel, and visit if only to experience the wonder of it; like people visit the Vatican or the Taj Mahal.
In answering the question, two creations readily come to mind. The first is the grand Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix (Our Lady of Peace) built in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast between 1986 and 1989.
The second is not yet completed, but may become even grander; it is the green field city of Eko Atlantic, a new financial capital currently under construction adjacent to the old city of Lagos and Victoria Island in Nigeria. A possible third I believe could be the Kigamboni proposed development.
The given examples are mere pebbles in the ocean of what is needed, or is presently on the drawing board; or that we may expect will be built in the coming decades, as Africa’s economic boom unfolds. And we may rightly imagine that such transformation will multiply, and benefit the masses, resulting in an elevation of architectural beauty, which would transform our dwellings beyond the mere utilitarian need for shelter.
At that time, when more of the population would have fulfilled their basic needs; men and women desirous of climbing the social ladder towards self-fulfillment, will follow the natural progression of pursuing the finer, and possibly nobler aspirations, to seek beauty beyond its utilitarian application. They will then desire art, which in the western concept, is beauty for its own sake.
The story is told how once; long ago, a Japanese farmer planted a field of Chrysanthemums. When the flowers had bloomed, the gardener went through the field and found one so exquisite that he became smitten by it.
Upon hearing that the governor would visit his field to behold what had become the talk of the region, he went through his field and cut down all except that enchanting bloom which had so mesmerised him. He did so in order to shield its beauty from the inferiority of the others.
At first when I read that story, I understood the point, but could not appreciate such worshipful appreciation of beauty, such an elevation of the concept above all else. But now I am quite aware of it and have committed myself to its promulgation, beyond whichever economic returns it may provide.
The writer is the CEO of Grand Africa Literary Initiative Ltd