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The go-to American in Ghana page 3
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


By her stereo, there's a Ray Charles CD featuring her late father Joe Bridgewater on trumpet. Beside it is another CD of childhood friend Gaye Todd Adegbalola and her group "Saffire--The Uppity Blues Women."

As large as the house is, she said she's running out of space to hang all her awards, testimonials, honorary degrees and other tributes.

"I hang them anywhere I can find another spot," she said.

She's been a diplomat for nearly 27 years. Her three-year posting in Ghana will end next year. She said she doesn't know what her next assignment will be. When it's done, she will be nearing the end of her globe-trotting career.

She rents out a house she owns in Fredericksburg's Westwood subdivision. As for retirement, she said, "Maybe I'll find a house by the sea and write a book. I'll just go where the wind leads me."

Big Building, Big Job

In Ghana, Bridgewater is the current CEO of a long, large and apparently successful diplomatic enterprise headquartered in a huge, $112 million embassy that opened in May.

"It brings together the many U.S. Embassy sections and agencies from their eight, disparate, former locations to this new state-of-the-art facility to more efficiently pursue their work in Ghana and the West African sub-region," Bridgewater said.

Signs warning "No Photography Allowed" hang on the steel fence enclosing several acres. It's just as well. The new U.S. embassy in Accra is about as photogenic as a prison. "It's a bunker," said an embassy employee.

The new complex, however, symbolizes the importance the United States attaches to its friendly relations with Ghana, one of sub-Saharan Africa's most promising democracies.

This year, Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary as an independent nation. It has been a rocky road of military coups, economic crises, unsolved problems and unfulfilled potential.

But the former British colony has somehow managed to hang together while many other African countries have faltered. The black star of Ghana's flag shines bright in America's eyes.

The country's economy is growing, poverty is declining, school enrollments are increasing and HIV/AIDS seems under control.

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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