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Fredericksburg native Pamela Bridgewater is America's person to see in Ghana
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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.