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The go-to American in Ghana page 2
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


Bridgewater exchanged toasts with Ghana's Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo, his pinstriped suit Savile Row classy. Addo would resign his post the next day to start his campaign to be Ghana's next president in 2008.

"July Fourth is one of the great dates on the calendar of human progress," Addo said. "The principals of the Declaration of Independence have shaped immeasurably the life of our own country."

Five-thousand miles from Fredericksburg, fireworks exploded high over the palm trees in the muggy West African night.

"It's a great time to be the United States ambassador to Ghana," said Bridgewater, Walker-Grant High School Class of '64.

Homes 5,000 Miles Apart

Pamela Ethel Bridgewater was born 60 years ago in the house on Amelia Street where her 82-year-old mother Mary Bridgewater has lived nearly all her life.

Besides the deep mother-daughter devotion, the homes in Fredericksburg and Ghana have something else in common.

Both display many photographs of the diplomat daughter with notables such as Nelson Mandela, George and Laura Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Doug Wilder, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

Despite her distaste for flying, Mary Bridgewater has visited her daughter at all of her postings in her long career of foreign service: Belgium, Jamaica, Bahamas, South Africa and two trips to both Benin and Ghana.

"I feel Pamela is deserving of everything that's come her way. I'm glad that she could be of service to America and Africa. She works hard," Mary Bridgewater said.

The ambassador's mansion 5,000 miles away is built and furnished for the business of diplomacy. Its long dining-room table easily seats 20 or more distinguished guests.

A high canopy attached to one side of the house could cover a gas station if it were not used to shelter ambassadorial receptions from the sun and rains of Africa.

Inside, clusters of sofas and easy chairs in the living room invite cozy conversations. Glass bowls full of autographed baseballs sit on the tables.

Reminders of home are everywhere, such as the paintings by Fredericksburg artists Johnny Johnson and Kathleen Walsh that hang on the walls.

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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