In an African village, rhythms of the drums infuse all of life — rituals, celebrations, communication, and even healing. In Princeton, drums will help to heal in a different way. They will beat at the Second Annual African Soiree, a benefit for the United Front Against Riverblindness on Saturday, March 12, at the Princeton Theological Seminary’s Mackay Campus Center. Doors open for a silent auction at 5 p.m. and the program — including authentic African food, live music, and dancing to an African DJ — starts at 6 p.m.
Following the African feast, provided by cooks from different African countries, the percussionists will begin the entertainment. Each of them — Foluso Mimy, Kolipe Camara, and Ray Philip — has had a distinguished career. For instance, Mimy belongs to the Mandingo Ambassadors, billed as “a living library of musical science,” and Camara, a native of Guinea, West Africa, most recently was lead drummer for Les Ballets Africains.
Mimy will begin with an “Apel,” a solo introduction. Then the three will play together, explaining the rhythms and breaking down each part. Two guests will have a chance to try out the various instruments in the orchestra. “Then we will perform another traditional rhythm displaying how we communicate through the drum,” says Mimy.
A socially disruptive disease, riverblindness starts with an excruciatingly itchy rash, and when it leads to blindness, children must leave school to be full-time caregivers for family members. There is a drug for it, provided free by Merck & Co., but it is a challenge to get the drug to remote villages and ensure that every person takes the drug once a year for at least 10 years.
UFAR is an African-inspired, Lawrenceville-based nonprofit charitable organization that aims, in partnership with other organizations, to eradicate onchocerciasis, known as riverblindness in the Kasongo region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Approximately 21 million of the 60 million people are at risk of getting this disease, according to Daniel Shungu, founder.
African Soiree Benefit to Combat Riverblindness, Princeton United Methodist Church, Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton. Saturday, March 12, 5 to 10 p.m. African cuisine, live music, silent auction, and crafts at the benefit for United Front Against Riverblindless focused in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Register online. $50. Free offstreet parking is available. 609-924-2613 or www.princetonumc.org.