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The go-to American in Ghana
Fredericksburg native Pamela Bridgewater is America's person to see in Ghana

 Pamela Bridgewater, left, takes oath as ambassador to the Republic of Benin at the State Department in 2000. Her mother, Mary Bridgewater, holds a family Bible for the ceremony. "She works hard," the mother says of her daughter.
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Date published: 8/29/2007


ACCRA, Ghana--"Everybody comes to my house! Everybody!" said U.S. Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater amid a crowd of 700 at her Fourth of July picnic.

Photographers--and there were many--had just snapped pictures of Bridgewater with U.S. civil-rights leaders Andrew Young and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Rev. Jackson and Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, were in town for a summit meeting of 52 heads of African states.

Bridgewater, a Fredericksburg native, joked with Jerry John "J.J." Rawlings, Ghana's former two-term president. She warmly greeted chiefs wearing royal robes of bright, hand-woven kente cloth.

Bridgewater, in a red dress with white polka dots, brushed cheeks with all of them.

Some of Bridgewater's old friends, including four from Fredericksburg, rubbed elbows with diplomats from other embassies, Ghanaian government officials, military officers and U.S. embassy personnel.

The Fredericksburg folk--the Rev. Lawrence A. Davies and his wife Janice, Felicia Cook and Laura Montgomery of Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site)--were in town for a gathering of the Baptist World Alliance at a swank hotel.

"A Capitol Fourth" was the party's theme. For the occasion, embassy employees had created reminders of the National Mall inside the high stone walls surrounding Bridgewater's house.

Murals of the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol and a faux Washington Monument stood among the tropical trees, shrubs and flowers.

A busload of sailors in dress whites from a visiting U.S. Navy frigate cruised the beer kegs. Like everyone else, they eventually sat down for dinner on red, white and blue plastic chairs under a dozen tents decorated with flags of all the states in the U.S.

The menu was All-American: hot dogs, fried chicken, corn on the cob, potato chips, potato salad, baked beans and brownies served up in wicker baskets lined with red-checked napkins.

The baskets had been made by disabled Ghanaian children. Dessert was sliced from a four-foot-long sheet cake iced like an American flag.

A color guard of U.S. Marines marched in with flags. A choir of young Ghanaians sang "God Bless Our Homeland Ghana." The Fisk Jubilee Singers from Nashville, Tenn., sang "Oh, Say Can You See?"

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Reporter 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.

SUNDAY: Sister cities Prince's Town and Fredericksburg are worlds apart. MONDAY: Sister-city relationship shines a beacon of hope into Prince's Town. Tale of two soccer balls illustrates town's need, and obsession. YESTERDAY: Spotsylvania man leads effort to protect villagers from malaria.

TOMORROW: What is the future of the sister-city relationship? FRIDAY: Forty years later, reporter's return to Ghana is bittersweet. In LIFE SATURDAY: Remembering Prince's Town's Golden Age, and a photo-essay on a traditional burial. In TOWN & COUNTY For previous stories in this series, see fredericksburg.com.

ON THE NET >> For video and more photos, or to order photo reprints, see fredericksburg.com.

1947: Born April 14, Fredericksburg

1964: Salutatorian, Walker-Grant High School

1968: B.A. in political science, Virginia State University

1970: Master's in political science, University of Cincinnati

1970-76: Doctoral candidate in international studies, American University

1976-80: Instructor, Morgan State and Bowie State universities in Maryland, and Voorhees College, S.C.

1980-90: Vice consul, Brussels, Belgium and labor attache/politcal officer, Kingston, Jamaica

1990-93: Political officer, Pretoria, South Africa

1993-96: Consul general, Durban, South Africa

1996-99: Deputy chief of mission, Nassau, Bahamas

1999-2000: Member, president of State Department's Senior Seminar

2000-02: Ambassador to Benin

2002-04: Deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs and special coordinator for peace in Liberia

2004-05: Diplomat-in-residence, Howard University

2005-present: Ambassador to Ghana