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Essence Festival Durban to Be Held in November

  • Associated Press

FILE - Essence President Michelle Ebanks is seen at the 5th Annual Essence Black Women in Music reception, Jan. 22, 2014, at 1 OAK in Los Angeles, California.

FILE - Essence President Michelle Ebanks is seen at the 5th Annual Essence Black Women in Music reception, Jan. 22, 2014, at 1 OAK in Los Angeles, California.

The inaugural Essence Festival in Durban, South Africa, will be held during that country's summer season in November.

Essence President Michelle Ebanks says the dates are November 8-13.

“As Essence converges on Durban during South Africa's beautiful summer season, we are creating a weeklong experience that will inspire women globally and convene our communities across the diaspora,” Ebanks said in a statement Thursday.

Ebanks has said a delegation from Durban attended the festival's 20th anniversary in New Orleans which helped seal a three-year partnership with eThekwini Municipality to host Essence Festival Durban this year and next. It will follow the multi-day format of the New Orleans event, which draws more than 450,000 people annually over the July 4th holiday weekend and has an economic impact of more than $200 million locally. The 2016 New Orleans festival will take place from June 30 to July 3.

Both events will present international performers and speakers to entertain and inspire as well as local artists and experts to discuss a variety of subjects aimed at empowering women and their communities.

The New Orleans event sparks daily discussions on a variety of topics, ranging from relationships to entrepreneurship in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and hosts nightly concerts at the Superdome. The event in South Africa will bring together experts and their ideas to support small businesses through empowerment seminars across various sectors, including career guidance workshops and other initiatives aimed at youth, Ebanks said.

A list of performers and other participants has not yet been released. Festival organizers said they are still finalizing programming.

Meanwhile, Durban Mayor James Nxumalo said the upcoming event will help solidify Durban as a choice international destination.

The Essence partnership, he said, would help the area continue to focus on the development of women and youth in business. A number of women-owned businesses will be selected to trade at the festival, which will boost their profile and drive sales for their companies.

“This partnership will have a host of benefits for residents, starting with the Durban Business Fair program, which strives to connect local businesses globally. We have no doubt that through the festival jobs will be created and our cultural economy enhanced,” Nxumalo said.

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