In 1993, my wife and I traveled to West Africa. On the journey was the city of Dakar, Senegal. When we returned home to Pasadena, at the invitation of Dr. Gerda Govine, I got involved with the proposal to get an African Sister City. It didn’t go far and quite honestly I don’t remember why.
On August 27, 2018, the Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to accept Dakar-Plateau, Senegal as a Sister City of Pasadena. Other Pasadena Sister Cities are in Germany, Japan, Finland, Armenia and China. This becomes Pasadena’s sixth Sister City and the ﬁrst African Sister City.
It amazes me how we were taught that Africa was a dangerous, dark place where you wouldn’t want to go. The ones telling us that, however, have been going there for thousands of years taking the minerals: the gold, the diamonds, the resources, and the people. My wife and I have traveled to Europe, where we visited Manchester, England where one of our granddaughters was born when our son was studying Theology at Manchester University. We’ve been to London; Paris, France; Milan, Italy; Jamaica; Hawaii; and we have made our pilgrimage to the Motherland where we visited seen Dakar, Senegal; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Banjul, Gambia. We look forward to visiting our new Pasadena sister city, Dakar-Plateau. I advise everyone to travel, especially to other countries to get a perspective of America in comparison to other places in the world. It’s most enlightening.
Those making public comments at the council meeting in support of having a Sister City spoke of the wonders of Senegal such as, the Pink Lake, the Slave Castle at Goree Island, the City Center, the culture, the languages, the shopping and the educational opportunities open to us. Some of the community speakers included Kerwin Manning, Pastor of Pasadena Church; Nicolette Wilson, pastor of Brown Memorial African Methodist Episopal Church; Patrice Marshall McKenzie, president of the Pasadena chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; and Gary Moody, president emeritus of the Pasadena Branch NAACP, among others. Pasadena Vice Mayor John Kennedy did a magniﬁcent job with outstanding comments and a wrap up by calling for the vote.
It was interesting to hear a couple of speakers not in support of having a sister city in Africa say we should look for a city that “mirrors” our city, or let’s just be “friends” with Africa and slowly move into becoming a sister cities after we see how the relationship works out. They repeated the (in) famous word, “Wait!”, the same word that Dr. King encountered during our struggle for civil rights. The speakers in support of the motion said we have waited long enough. “Now is the time to move forth.” We were reminded that Africa has been viewed negatively for generations and that is all Americans have seen. We have waited, patiently for twenty years to make the cradle of civilization a Sister City for Pasadena.
It was refreshing to hear Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek speak in support of the motion. It was almost funny to hear talk of twin between Pasadena and Senegal. However, the mayor confronted the suggestion of “twin cities” by saying there are no twins in any of the Sister Cities, so there’s no need to be so for the ﬁrst Sister City from Africa. After he researched and compared Africa with Pasadena’s other Sister Cities, he was satisﬁed that Africa would be just as viable a Sister City as Pasadena’s current Sister Cities.
Unspoken at the rally was the vision of unity of all races, ages and sexes. All were there to do what we have always done, join together for the good of the people. The people who came from the slave ship to the space ship and from the outhouse to the White House, joined together and came out victoriously. The report put together by the 17-member Ad Hoc Committee was thorough and convincing. We have waited long enough. Now is the time to move forward.
In a statement by Vice Mayor Kennedy, he said, “The Senegalese People are on the move and we are overjoyed as we embark on a new journey of mutual respect and collaboration in various ﬁelds of endeavor. Last night, the rainbow of community and humanity demonstrated that love plus organization is still one of the most powerful fuels of unity.”