By Lloyd Gumbo
Affirmative Action Group president and businessman Dr Chamu Chiwanza will join other world-renowned speakers at the inaugural Essence Festival in Durban, South African next month. The festival seeks to equip small businesses through empowerment seminars across various sectors, including career guidance workshops and other empowerment initiatives aimed at the youth.
The panel that includes American comedian and television host Steve Harvey, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton among others will headline the festival that has also drawn singers Kelly Price and Estelle.
The first ever Essence Festival Durban-a sister event to the annual Essence Festival New Orleans, will be running from November 8-13 at the International Convention Centre and the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
In an invite sent to Dr Chiwanza seen by The Herald, one of the organisers of the event, Ms Busi Tshabalala, said the festival was expected to cover a number of topics. “It is with great pleasure that we invite you to be a speaker at the 2016 Essence Festival in Durban, South Africa,” said Ms Tshabalala.
“The inaugural Essence Festival Durban, will be held November 8-13, 2016.
“The first-ever Essence Festival Durban — the sister event to the annual Essence Festival New Orleans — will feature international performers, world-renowned speakers and local artists.
“With nearly 500 000 annual attendees, the Essence Festival in New Orleans is an institution of reverence for black culture. The Essence Festival in Durban will connect global communities of women, establishing an international forum of love and celebration of black culture.”
Dr Chiwanza said he was elated by the invitation to share a platform with world-renowned speakers. “It’s an honour not only for me as an individual but Zimbabwe as a whole,” said Dr Chiwanza. “I am more honoured to represent my country because other fellow speakers are representing their countries.
“This invitation is also a sign of confidence that the global platform believes in our brains that Zimbabwe has the capacity to change the image of Africa so I will not take this lightly at all.”
In a statement, Essence president Michelle Ebanks said: “This inaugural Essence Festival Durban will bring together voices of influence and power from the continent of Africa, the United States and around the globe to connect communities and empower women.”
The empowerment experience programme will cover topics such as a Money + Power Showcase, Beauty and Style Expo, Lifestyle and Wellness Experience and Essence Eats.