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Will Fredericksburg officials embrace sister city in Africa?
What is the future of sister-city relationship between Prince's Town and Fredericksburg?

 "If we can make personal connections back to the continent, it would be difficult to ignore the plight of most Africans," says local Sister-City Association President Paula Royster.
FRANK DELANO/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/30/2007

BY FRANK DELANO

PRINCE'S TOWN, Ghana--A seat of honor is reserved in West Africa for the mayor of Fredericksburg.

In Ghana, tribal chiefs at ceremonial occasions sit on ornately carved, often ancient wooden stools. Now, when Prince's Town Chief Nana Kundumuah IV [kun-DU-mu-ah] and the 14 elders in his council meet, a new stool waits empty beside them.

The vacant stool is a public symbol of Prince's Town's new sister-city relationship with Fredericksburg. Everyone in town hopes to see a Fredericksburg mayor sitting on it one day.

Mayor Tom Tomzak said he was "honored" by the gesture, but has no immediate plans to take a seat.

"I'm looking forward to visiting Prince's Town, but I really don't know when," Tomzak said.

Prince's Town also awaits another VIP visitor from Fredericksburg. In July, an unidentified Prince's Town man said: "Pamela Bridgewater, the American ambassador [to Ghana], she's from Fredericksburg, right? Fredericksburg has produced many famous people. When is she coming to Prince's Town?"

"At my first opportunity," Bridgewater said in an e-mail to a reporter. "[I] have had tons of official visitors and responsibilities, but visiting Prince's Town is among my priorities when I get the first free moment."

Bridgewater said the U.S. Embassy in Accra is seeing an increase of interest from cities in Ghana and the United States seeking sister-city ties.

The Ghana government is also welcoming tourists and investment through its Joseph Project, a campaign designed to reconnect blacks around the world with their heritage in Mother Africa.

GOING TO GHANA

At a City Council meeting Aug. 14, the Fredericksburg-Princes Town Sister City Association extended an invitation to city officials to join association members when they visit the poor, remote town in October.

Sister City Association President Paula D. Royster also asked the city for $10,000 to help pay travel costs, but council members did not act on her request. No officials have yet signed up, she said.

The October trip will be the first for Royster and other Fredericksburg members of the group. Association Vice President Powell Holly delivered a laptop computer to Prince's Town when he was in Ghana on business in April.


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

SUNDAY: Sister cities Prince's Town and Fredericksburg are world's 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. TUESDAY: Spotsylvania man leads effort to protect villagers from malaria. YESTERDAY: Profile of Fredericksburg's Pamela Bridgewater, ambassador to Ghana.

TOMORROW: 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

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.

The Fredericksburg-Princes Town Sister City Association will collect books, school supplies, shoes and sporting goods "to meet some of the short-term needs of our sister city," said association President Paula D. Royster.

Royster said the collection drive will begin tomorrow and end Oct. 12.

DROP-OFF SITES: Books, school supplies The Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline St.

Beck's Antique's & Books, 708 Caroline St.

James Monroe High School library, 2300 Washington Ave.

Shoes Room 101 of Monroe Hall, University of Mary Washington. Sporting goods Sporting goods, including soccer balls and apparel can be dropped off at The Free Lance-Star, 616 Amelia St. FOR MORE INFO Call Mary Bridgewater at 540/373-7951 or Maude Williams at 540/785-9925, or go to fredericksburgsistercity.org.