Essence Music Festival Heads to Africa

In celebration of 20 years of the Essence Music Festival and 20 years since the end South Africa’s racially motivated apartheid, Essence magazine bought its star-studded event to South Africa.

With artists such as Kelly Price, Ne-Yo, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, and a cameo by South African President Jacob Zuma, the international extravaganza merged black American culture with African culture in Durban, South Africa.

“It’s such a great pleasure because we get to see all these international acts that we are not used to in Durban,” said local DJ Diva Cadach, Travel + Leisure magazine reported. “Can we just have Beyoncé now please?”

In a keynote address toasting the evening, Steve Harvey reiterated the importance of hosting the festival in Africa.

“We’re trying to bring some New Orleans to Africa and take some of Africa back to New Orleans,” Harvey said.

Kenya and Ethiopia Now Officially Connected

Kenyan Officials celebrate the opening of a highway that links Kenya and Ethiopia. /Courtesy of
Kenyan Officials celebrate the opening of a highway that links Kenya and Ethiopia. /Courtesy of

A highway connecting Kenya to Ethiopia has been completed, running from Mombasa, Kenya to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city.

Many view the highway as a sign of increased community and capitalism, including John Mosonik, infrastructure principal secretary, who called it a “critical milestone for Kenya.”

“Through the completion of this modern road, our people now have a chance to deepen their relationship with our neighbours in Ethiopia,” Mosonik said. “This road will not only open up the vast land it traverses it will also improve security.”

Attending the Nov. 19 official opening in Kenya were Erastus Mwongera, chairman of Kenya National Highways Authority; Ukur Yatani, governor of Marsabit; KENHA Director-General Peter Mundinia and representatives from the European Union and the African Development Bank, which helped co-finance the project.

Coalitions Rethink ‘Conflict Diamonds’

International organizations shift focus back to blood diamonds. /Courtesy of Chris Hondros
International organizations shift focus back to blood diamonds. /Courtesy of Chris Hondros

The European Union announced an initiative to stop the trade of “conflict diamonds,” which captured the world’s attention during the extreme violence in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s.

Still facing catastrophic wars on the basis of “blood diamonds,” or diamonds handpicked by exploited, overworked Africans, the EU asks members to restrengthen the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Launched in 2002 to stop the trade of conflict diamonds, the Kimberley Process was established as a coalition of governments, civil societies and the diamond industry meant to respond to the devastating role of diamonds in civil wars in Africa.

Though Sierra Leone served as the global catalyst, reports have also shown that the rough diamonds have also funded chaos in Angola, Liberia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

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Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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