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Monday, November 19, 2012


(An interesting side view of the ICC)
Splendid evening of celebration presented as only the ICC knows how! (Review by Caroline Smart)

Friday evening (November 16) saw Durban’s impressive International Convention Centre (ICC) celebrate its 15th birthday, with the main hall decked out elegantly and professionally as only the ICC knows how.

Entertained with a splendid programme directed by Evan Roberts of song, dance and an exciting highflying act from Kerry Wood, guests were taken down the last 15 years of the ICC’s existence with CEO Julie- May Ellingson leading the way. She listed the many awards and conventions the ICC had received and hosted, emphasising the fact that the ICC was not a drain on Durban ratepayers but rather provided a state of the art venue which created a major tourism spin-off.

Durban was the first South African city to establish an international convention centre. The Durban ICC has hosted international heads of state, royalty, business and sporting luminaries as well as corporate and social organisations. The largest and most challenging convention to date was the COP 17/CMP 7 climate change conference.

Supporting the Philani Ngidi Band who provided background music for most of the evening, performers included the inimitable Sam Marais, Flatfoot Dance Company, Eyami and Va Va Va Voom as well as Lauren Dasappa and the Durban Gospel Choir led by Karen Van Pletsen. Khaya Mthethwa, this year’s Idols winner, was a huge favourite with the audience.

For me, the evening was a nostalgic reminder of the opening of the ICC when, as a freelance television director for SABC Durban, I was producing arts programmes for Collage, Arts Unlimited and Good Morning, South Africa. I was commissioned to produce five four-minute programmes for the sadly now-defunct KZN-2Nite television station, highlighting different features of the centre in the run-up to the ICC’s official opening.

This is when I met the inimitable Peter Brokenshire, ICC’s founding CEO, for whom the word “problem” does not exist. Instead, it is a “challenge”. That small change of wording generates an entirely different mindset and I have always tried to emulate this. It was good to see him on video – now Datuk Peter Brokenshire and the GM of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre – sending a message of congratulation.

Brokenshire’s influence on the operations of the ICC can still be seen in the efficient yet friendly way in which the public is treated and it was heartwarming to see the staff being honoured on stage.

For more information on the ICC and its background, visit – Caroline Smart