The new location comes after the festival launched its three-year partnership with eThekwini Muncipality. Essence Communications Inc. President, Michelle Ebanks announced the municipality will host the festival in Durban in 2016 and 2017.
This new location is no surprise according to Ebanks, stating New Orleans and Dubarn are longtime sisters.
“There’s a great deal in common culturally between America and South Africa. We share a history of racial, economic and social prejudice and disparities,” she said. “There are many parallels and we felt expanding to South Africa was a great connection.”
The Durban festival will expand by focusing on a theme of women and youth empowerment in business. A number of women-owned companies will be selected to trade at the festival. Previously, the event featured artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, and Mary J. Blige. This time, it’ll feature a selection of both international and local artists. Ebanks says the festival’s theme and South African presence will only strengthen its brand.
“We believe that this event will strengthen the Essence Festival and deepen our connection to our attendees,” Ebanks said. “There’s an African proverb that says you can go fast alone or far together. Reconnecting with our community on the African continent will allow us to go far together.”
Ebanks states that the New Orleans festival has fortified the cultural economy and brought a “meaningful impact to the community” by means of service and empowerment. The Durban festival is expected to have the same cultural impact.