Enjoy Life to Give Life

Often a gala invitation will specify “black tie admired” and offer sumptuous food, music, and dancing. This gala will have all that, except the admired dress will be African garb and you can wear whatever you want to wear. I’m planning to dance in bare feet.

This gala is an African Soiree, a community-wide event to benefit the United Front Against Riverblindness, on Saturday, May 22, at 6 p.m. at Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center on Olden Avenue at the corner of Prospect. Full disclosure — I’m on the planning committee. Music — we’ve got it. DJ Sikamba (Ernest Diatta) will play African music for dancing, and Afro DZ AK (jazz artist Pete Shungu) will entertain. The Umoja and Usaama Dance Company (above) will present three dances and a drum demonstration, followed by an opportunity for audience participation. Tickets are $50, $25 for students, and they are limited. Call Princeton United Methodist Church, 609-924-2613 to reserve.

That’s where bare feet come in, but if you can keep your shoes on if you want to. I just feel like I’m closer to the earth without them.

Some of the best cooks I know are preparing delectable African food, tons of it, all different kinds. We’ll be eating and feasting, eating and feasting and dancing. And all of this for a good cause, to stamp out riverblindness, a neglected tropical disease that starts with a rash and ends with sight loss. More than 23 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are at risk for it, and when the adult goes blind, a child must leave school. The logo for UFAR, above, shows a child leading an adult by a stick. A very sad situation, but a very good reason to party.

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