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city ties can fredericksburg help Prince's Town? Sisters, worlds apart About the series ABOUT GHANA Prince's Town Coming up page 3
Fredericksburg and sister city in Ghana are worlds apart

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Date published: 8/26/2007

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The nearest hospital is more than an hour away, assuming a sick or injured person can find transportation to reach it. There is no rescue squad. No post office. No fire department. No police.

There is virtually no crime, either. A thief can expect to be nabbed and beaten by villagers and held for hours until the cops show up from a station 20 miles away.

Young children wander in perfect safety throughout town accompanied by goats, chickens and dogs.

There is no traffic to speak of. Few people own cars. The town's annual traffic jam occurs in October, when hundreds of people with ties to the town come home for a festival.

But judging Prince's Town by the things it lacks somehow misses much more important points. After all, there's more to life than just things.

The Prince's Town people are unfailingly kind, hospitable, friendly, courteous, well-mannered, dignified and quick to smile and laugh.

They are as proud of their own long, rich and complex history as Fredericksburg residents are of theirs.

Prince's Town's leaders recognize the town's shortcomings and are earnestly seeking, against all odds, to find ways to make life better.

Because of the sister-city relationship, everyone in town now knows the name "Fredericksburg, Virginia" [FRED-er-reeks-burg, ver-GEE-nee-a]. Even the children.

As new and ill-defined as it is, the sister-city relationship shines like a faraway beacon of hope for the people of Prince's Town, a tenuous link to America and better days ahead.

"My friend! My friend!" the children cried when they ran to welcome an American stranger, their hands outstretched in greeting.

"My friend! My friend!"

Frank Delano: 804/333-3834
Email: fpdelano@gmail.com


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HOW DO YOU SPELL IT? The name of Fredericksburg's sister city in Ghana has several spellings. Is it Princes Town, Prince's Town or Princess Town? In my recent conversations with well-educated English-speaking natives, all agreed that the name means "the town of the prince" and that the name should be written "Prince's Town."

In this case, the prince was the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenberg, who authorized the building of the fort in the town in the 17th century.

When I was there, banners strung over the street welcomed American visitors to "Prince's Town." John Atkins also called it "Prince's Town" in his 1735 book "A Voyage to Guinea." So that's the way I'm spelling it.

But it is "Princess Town" on a road sign, an environmental report, the Web site of Ghana's Ahanta West district and signs at a school and health clinic in town.

My host Alfred Kaku Aluade Acquah said, "'Prince's Town' with the apostrophe 's' was the way we were taught to write it in school. Princess Town is a spelling that has come lately."

Nevertheless, a few days later Acquah wrote out a receipt and spelled it "Princess Town."

--Frank Delano

Frank Delano visited Prince's Town, Fredericksburg's new sister city, during a July trip to Ghana, where he served in the Peace Corps 40 years ago.

TOMORROW: Sister-city relationship shines a beacon of hope into Prince's Town. Tale of two soccer balls illustrates town's need, and obsession. TUESDAY: Spotsylvania man leads effort to protect villagers from malaria. WEDNESDAY: Profile of Fredericksburg's Pamela Bridgewater, ambassador to Ghana THURSDAY: What is the future of the sister-city relationship? FRIDAY: Forty years later, reporter's return to Ghana is bittersweet. Read Frank Delano's account in LIFE. SATURDAY: Remembering Prince's Town's Golden Age, and a photo essay on a traditional burial. Find both in TOWN & COUNTY.

LOCATION: West Africa SIZE: Slightly smaller than Oregon CLIMATE: Tropical POPULATION: 22.4 million RELIGION: Christian, 63 percent; Muslim, 16 percent; and indigenous beliefs, 21 percent LANGUAGE: English (official) and African languages including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe and Ga GOVERNMENT: Constitutional democracy. The president and vice president are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms. So are members of the parliament. CAPITAL: Accra

TIME DIFFERENCE: Five hours ahead of Washington standard time

INDEPENDENCE: March 6, 1957, from the United Kingdom EXPORTS: Gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminum, manganese ore and diamonds CURRENCY: Cedi PHONE LINES IN USE: 2.8 million INTERNET HOSTS: 380 INTERNET USERS: 401, 300