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Fredericksburg and sister city in Ghana are worlds apart
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The mutual desire of Africans and African-Americans to reconnect their heritage after centuries of separation led to the sister-city relationship between the disparate places.
Historians estimate that 677,000 people from the Gold Coast, Ghana's name in colonial times, were sold into slavery in the 18th century. Their journeys of no return led many of them through the dungeon of the fort at Prince's Town.
The dungeon's outside door is now unhinged. The dark, low-vaulted cellar is full of bats.
The fort offers a bird's-eye view of the weather-worn town below. Most of the houses are one-story. The mud walls of some of them have collapsed because their owners cannot afford to maintain them. The streets are mostly winding, sandy paths.
The drab, squalid town sits amid tropical splendor about 300 miles north of the equator.
Great breakers crash on wide, white-sand beaches as far as the eye can see. On one side of town, two sluggish rivers, the Kpani [ka-PAHN-ni] and the Nyila [nah-YI-la], join just before they reach the sea.
On the other side of town, mangroves surround the deep Ehunli [eh-HOON-li] Lagoon, where crocodiles, reportedly docile, are protected as sacred beings by fetish priests and most people.
However, there's always trouble in paradise.
A disease has killed many of the coconut palms from which families in Prince's Town once derived substantial income.
Farms outside of town, where residents head most mornings by foot or dugout canoe, are being gobbled up in 99-year-long leases by a giant rubber plantation.
Gold mining threatens a nearby national forest reserve.finding new friends
The list of things that Fredericksburg has and Prince's Town lacks could fill this paper. Unlike in its sister city, there are no fat people in Prince's Town.
Children in crisp, clean uniforms attend the town's primary and junior secondary schools for the first nine years of their education.
But teenagers must leave town to find higher schooling elsewhere. Most of them will never return to live in Prince's Town because the town has no jobs to offer.