By Phuti Mathobela
Magic happens when music, business, art and fashion come together under one roof. Coupled with inspiration and wisdom, this means that it can only be the next instalment of the Essence Festival.
The organisers unveiled what guests can expect at this year's event – its third annual outing, set for the end of September – at a stylish breakfast held at the Joint Jazz Café on Durban's South Beach.
The restaurant is known for its 1930s-style shisa nyama. I'm talking a typical braai, with all your favourite sides dished up, to the smooth sounds of local jazz.
The menu at this beachfront speakeasy was designed by Brendon Newport of Surf Riders, with chefs Comfort Kweyama and Peter Simmonds attending to the open-flame grills.
The emcee, actress and TV presenter Nomzamo Mbatha, looked beautiful in her ankle-length dress and handcrafted African neckpiece.
She is enjoying a number of career successes this year: she co-hosted the Black Entertainment Television awards in Los Angeles in June, was recently unveiled as an ambassador for the international cosmetics giant L'Oréal and has been nominated for an African Pride award in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Film – Africa. The latter event will take place on August 13.
Back to Durban's launch. "I am so happy that I was given a chance to emcee this event today to represent all the women," she said.
"It is one of those opportunities one wouldn't say no to. I am here to show young kids that it does not matter where you come from, you can be anything if you set your mind to it."
Among the guests was rapper Nsikayesizwe Ngcobo, better known as Nasty C. He will be part of the Essence line-up, along with choreographer and media personality Somizi Mhlongo and gospel group Joyous Celebration.
The full line-up was kept under wraps, presumably because some artists are yet to confirm whether they will appear. But definitely on the list to present inspirational talks are the ever-inspiring Bishop TD Jakes and Reverend Al Sharpton.
The festival, billed as a "party with a purpose", follows a similar format to the Essence event held annually in New Orleans. It combines music and entertainment with business, lifestyle, wellness, food, fashion, arts and crafts.
This year's six-day Durban has as its theme Firing Africa with Inspiration and will showcase seminars, exhibitions, workshops, art installations and nightly music concerts.
The Essence Festival takes place in Durban from 26 September to 1 October.
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