Business woman, philanthropist and former momager extraordinaire Tina Lawson wowed our ESSENCE Festival audience in New Orleans with her empowering words over the summer and now she's joining us this weekend for the first-ever ESSENCE Fest Durban.
We caught up with Mama Tina just before she made her way across the globe to inspire the women of South Africa to see what she was most looking forward to about the event, things she did to shape her daughters into the proud Black women they are today and much more.
Although this won't be Mrs. Lawson's first time visiting South Africa, she says she's very much looking forward to meeting the women there and gaining just as much inspiration as she hopes to leave. "I’m looking forward mostly to being able to speak with them and hopefully inspire them and vice versa," the Galveston,Texas native tells ESSENCE. "You know, I’ll be inspired by them as well. I’ve visited South Africa a couple of times. The first time was in 2003 and it was such a great experience. We visited a hospital while were there for an AIDS benefit event, where Beyonce performed at a concert for Mr. Mandela. So, we really got to spend some time there and see the culture and talk to the women. So, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing."
Like the women of Durban, Miss Tina has always taken pride in her African-American heritage and placed much value in instilling that same sense of pride in her daughters, Beyonce and Solange, growing up. One of the ways she made sure the girls remained fully aware of the beauty of their culture was through art. "I’ve always collected African-American art. So, they were surrounded by images of their culture. Whether it be present-day culture or historic African culture. I evn have artwork from many of the older artists that depict moments from slavery and the cotton fields in Louisiana. So, the girls have been surrounded by visuals that truly influenced them and helped them to embrace their bodies and their culture and to just help them feel good about it."
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As we all have seen, both Solange and Beyonce have carried those cultural values with them into adulthood and motherhood. Miss Tina stresses the importance of Black parents teaching their children the true value of who they are through reinforcing pride in their culture. "I think that it’s really important — not to harp on race — but, in order for your kids to be very proud of their heritage and who they are, as Black people, you have to show them every aspect of it," she says. "Especially the things that are culturally important, like positive images of their Blackness. Whether it be music or poetry or books or art. Just explaining to them how important it is to have pride and to give back and to give back to your community. So, those are things that are being instilled in my grandchildren as well. It’s great to fit in but, you really need to be proud of who you are. Don’t ever lose sight of who you are and where you come from."
And what can ESSENCE Fest Durban attendees expect when they come out to hear Miss Tina speak this weekend?
"One of the things that I want to talk about is starting your own business," she says. "People, especially women, feel like they're limited and like they have to have all this education and extensive training. But, really, the best businesses come out of you just seeing a need. So, I'd like to inspire women to go out and start their own businesses. Whether it's working out of your house or selling cookies out of your trunk, it's the start of something. So, if I can inspire more women to start their businesses and to live their lives more freely and focus on their dream, then I will be very, very happy because that's the purpose of me going."
For more on ESSENCE Fest Durban, click here.