I haven’t experienced the kind of love New Orleans has in a city I’ve visited before. The love and care I've felt from the community, being a stranger, was incredible. I remember having a conversation about Nigerian movies with our neighbor at the AirBnB we stayed in. I remember her asking how we are liking the city and how the festival has been. She even helped us watch the U-haul trailer we had parked at the house. For me, New Orleans took southern hospitality to new levels. It felt genuine, like the residents of the city genuinely cared to have conversations, genuinely cared to lend a helping hand, and were all around authentic in their love for the city and those around them. And another thing that stood out to me was how involved the city and residents were in making Essence Fest enjoyable. New Orleans, thank you! For the beignets, the endless po-boys and daquiris…..THANK YOU!
The same love we experienced in the city was right there in the convention center! They say black people don’t get along, well that is a myth. Our co-vendors were incredibly friendly and supportive. Our Wakanda jersey was even featured in Marvel’s Black Panther Activation and their team made sure we were doing okay while directing customers to our booth.
The friendliness and support was extended through each and every single one of you that bought a jersey or just stopped by to ask about us! We had some amazing conversations with y'all! I remember a lady came into our booth with a sankofa tattoo and she knew immediately which jersey resonated with her (our black lives matter jerseys of course). A military man came in and bought some jerseys from a few african countries he’d visited while on tour and had an amazing and real convo with us about his experience abroad under our current administration. Or our haitian brother who not only looked smooth in the Haiti jersey but brought three of his friends into the booth to get theirs. Or the wonderful story of a guy whose father named him Accra after Ghana’s capital city and he never got to ask him why before he passed. But Accra bought a Ghana jersey in honor of his father. He also bought an Eritrea jersey and said he wouldn’t wear it out until he read up on the country. And I can't forget about mama! Mama came in, bought a jersey, then brought her whole family in to get theirs. Or Dey! Dey worked at Essence and came to check on us everyday!
These are only a few of the stories I could share about our Essence Fest experience. However, each and every single person that stopped by our booth, bought a jersey or asked about us, we welcome you to the MIZIZI Fam. The MIZIZI fam extends all over the diaspora, and it now extends to NOLA! They say people don’t remember what you say, but they remember how you made them feel…...genuinely Essence Festival and the City of New Orleans made us feel loved.
Photographed by Paa Kwesi Yanful