Congresswoman, human rights activist honored at Shared Interest gala

Volunteer, Nokuthula Zikalala, and Zenobia Lewis of Queens, at the Shared Interest Annual Benefit at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan on March 20.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Hundreds attended the Shared Interest Annual Benefit gala at The Edison Ballroom in Manhattan on March 20. The organization’s yearly fund-raising gala raises money to invest in South African entrepreneurs and existing businesses, and also honors individuals who advocate for the sustainability of people globally. For many who attended, the event was a great use of their night, said one guest.

“It was spectacular,” said Percy Hall. “It’s always a really great gala that is well participated, and it gives people an opportunity to donate to a great cause because they invest in the businesses of African women in South Africa, and they have quite a success rate.”

As a usual attendee to the event, Hall said this year he took his son Christopher with him for the first time to participate in the good deed as well.

Activist Donna Katzin founded Shared Interest in 1994. The organization’s goal is to invest in growing and potential businesses, particularly in agriculture in South Africa post-apartheid.

Also at the event were human rights change-makers, ambassadors from Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique, and Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who made remarks at the gala.

The gala presented two honorees with awards, California congresswoman Barbara Lee and South African activist Kumi Naidoo, who will be the next secretary general of Amnesty International. They were awarded with the Advocate for Justice, and the Champion Award for People and Planet respectively.

Hall said even though he was not familiar with honoree Kumi Naidoo, he was pleased to hear about his decades worth of work and activism.

“I think both of their awards were well-deserved,” he said. “I didn’t know much about Naidoo, but as I learned more about him and his participation in the civil rights movement in South Africa, I was quite impressed and happy that he was recognized.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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