The Essence Durban Festival’s focus on business, property and women empowerment in its first three days will expand into an experience for the whole family as a weekend of world-class entertainment and inspiration begins.


The tech, entertainment, food, beauty and lifestyle pillars of the event were launched at a press conference featuring global faith leader Bishop TD Jakes, United States Ambassador Andrew Young, Mr Philip Sithole, Acting Deputy City Manager for the Economic Development and Planning Cluster in eThwekini Municipality, Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca and Essence Festival Durban Ambassador, Nomzamo Mbatha at the Durban International Conference Center today.


“We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” began South African star Nomzamo Mbatha, who served as Programme Director for the event. “Shaka Zulu would’ve been proud. Here we are, firing up Africa with inspiration. It’s been a week of educating, empowering and enabling each other – but most importantly it’s been so, so impactful!”


eThekwini Municipality’s Sithole echoed this, noting that every session at the event had been sold out or oversubscribed so far.


“We are excited about the response from the public in the first three days – it went beyond our expectations.”


He also expressed his excitement at the public’s projected turnout for the weekend’s scheduled events, most of which are free.

“Over the course of the festival, our city is going to experience an influx of visitors from the different corners of South Africa, the rest of the Continent and the globe. Several delegates are already here, their attendance and participation at this festival means well for the promotion of the city’s tourism and profile. Emerging entrepreneurs are being empowered as we have witnessed over the last two days, enriching content and inspiration will be shared at the Empowerment stage and with leading authors during the book and arts fair: Articulate,” adds Sithole.


Essence Magazine Editor-In-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca noted that the event would be a one-of-a-kind cultural experience that connects the African diaspora.” This year’s theme “firing Africa with inspiration, pays homage to the birthplace of culture throughout the African diaspora. We are proud to be in Durban – a South African city that provides the perfect backdrop for cultural exchange on a global scale.”


This weekend’s roaring combination of New Orleans’ and Durban culture is set to cement the city’s status as an international hub for commerce.


“I feel like I’m at home,” beamed Bishop Jakes. “I’m deeply honoured to share the stage with the people here today,” he continued. Bishop Jakes’ new book “SOAR” made its debut in South Africa today. His session centered on entrepreneurship will feature some of his reflections from his new book. “I just saw a copy of it for the first time, today!” he exclaimed. “It epitomizes a message of self-reliance, tenacity and the fact that we are the people we have been waiting for.”


Grammy Award-winning musician and actress Jill Scott, is set to bring soulful sounds to the festival when she takes to the stage on Saturday night, leading an incredible line-up of local and international artists, including the likes of Nasty C, MiCasa, Babes Wodumo and Amanda Black.


De Luca thanked eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and the municipality for embracing the Essence Festival mission, saying that the city has made the festival an important part of their work since they began preparations. “This will not only echo across the African continent, but the rest of the world.”


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