Olin Africa Business Club pairs cuisine with insights in its 2022 forum

The Olin Africa Business Club’s Emerald Deku, MBA ’23, and Chinazar Okoro, MBA ’22, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Akinrodola Owanikin, MBA ’22

It was the second day of the Olin Africa Business Forum, which ran February 24-25, 2022, where guests from across the world converged to hold crucial conversations. The panel sessions—which covered topics ranging from finance, agriculture, entertainment and healthcare—were insightful for many, as our speakers delved into Africa’s state of affairs from firsthand perspectives.

The end of these sessions signaled a networking event and time to taste another aspect of Africa—food!

Walking into the atrium (where the event was staged), it was exciting to see the Olin Africa Business Club members working together to set up for the occasion. Bosoye Abitoye, MBA ’23, worked with Co-President Prince Boateng, MBA ’22, in setting up the banner. They joked about putting technical skills to work as MBA students.

Oluwakemi Adene, MBA ’22, Ony Mgbeahurike, MBA ’19, and Prince Osei Boateng, MBA ’22

Moving over to the table, it was beautiful to behold the country-by-country representation of food. There was crumbly, creamy African meatpie and spring rolls; moin-moin that begged to melt in your mouth and gizdodo; asun that offered a warm embrace for your taste buds and pepper soup eager to please your senses.

Puff-puff, meatpie and spring rolls from the Olin Africa Business Forum 2022.

There was amala, kenke, ewedu and gbegiri, pounded yam and egusi. And then, there was puff-puff, standing gallantly with admirable arrogance on the same stage as jollof rice. Oh, the jollof rice. On this day, neither the Nigerians nor the Ghanaians could be bothered about the famous jollof wars. Waakye (Ghanaian for rice and beans) with spicy pepper sauce, did not go unnoticed. It brought with it the nostalgia of home and the good times families share eating that meal together.

Click to see video of the panel discussions from
the Olin Africa Business forum event: day one | day two

It was sheer pleasure experiencing first-hand reactions from non-Africans enjoying the meals.

Minjy Koo, MBA ’22, and Bryanna Brown, MBA ’22

“It is my first time eating African food, and it is so good—especially the rice,” Minjy Koo, MBA ’22, remarked.

Moving over to some Africans to hear their thoughts, Baffour Boaten, MPH ’23, responded with the satisfaction of a person with a well-pleased palate: “I will say this in Zulu: nandi kakhulu. It means ‘so delicious.’” That set off everyone on his table talking about their country, language and food. What was not to love about the euphoria of the moment?

It was great to connect in person with alumni who attended the event. Ashley Macrander, senior associate dean for graduate student affairs, was present offering support, as well as Chris Collier, MBA career coach from the Weston Career Center. The entire event strengthened the bond between current students and alumni, leaving a legacy of friendship, collaboration and support.

There is an African proverb that says, “One who eats alone cannot discuss the taste of the food with others.” Indeed, the Taste of Africa event was our mouthpiece. It echoed the rich, tasty and colorful culture of Africa, our proud origin.

NOTE: All photos courtesy of Adeoluwa Babatope, MBA ’22. Pictured at top: Olin MBA students from the classes of 2022 and 2023, along with alumni and Ashley Macrander.

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