City Council Approves Pasadena's Newest Sister City

Pasadena “Twinned” with Africa Sister City Senegal’s Dakar-Plateau joins cities in Finland, Germany, Japan, Armenia and China

Published : Tuesday, August 28, 2018 | 5:00 AM

Capping a determined three-year effort, the City Council Monday unanimously approved Pasadena’s sixth official sister city, Senegal’s Dakar-Plateau.

The African city, Pasadena’s first such partner, joins Ludwigshafen, Germany; Mishima, Japan; Järvenpää, Finland; Vanadzor, Armenia; and Xicheng District in Beijing, China, as a sister city partner.

Nearly a hundred supporters of the move packed City Hall Council chambers, its hallways and two basement meeting rooms, eager to hear the Council decision.

Following a brief history by Vice Mayor John Kennedy of the efforts to find an African city to “twin” with, Fred Alcantar, chair of the Sister Cities Ad Hoc Committee on Africa, led the formal presentation before the Council, joined by the Honorary Consul of Senegal, Mame Toucouleur Mbaye.

“We get rich from each other’s differences,” said Alcantar.

Mbaye agreed, saying, “Every city in Senegal should be partners with a city in the US.”

Pasadena resident Melvin Scheer, who said he has visited dozens of cities around the world, told the Council, “Dakar-Plateau is such a welcoming city dedicated to peace and non-violence.”

At least two persons spoke against the move to partner with Dakar-Plateau, however.

Resident Robert Brown told the Council he “could think of other cities in Africa that would be more appropriate.”

Resident David Ashby said, “There is no strong resemblance between the cities,” and told the Council that Dakar-Plateau should be a ‘friendship city’ first, before becoming an official sister city.

Altadena Town Council chair Okorie Ezieme responded, however, that “There is no reason to wait. There will never be a perfect time. Pasadena will benefit from this, and Dakar-Plateau will benefit from this.”

Mayor Terry Tornek explained to the Council that he had closely watched the process of partnering with Dakar-Plateau, and said that he had initial reservations regarding the city’s position with regard to LGBT rights.

Tornek said ultimately he was reassured that the city, which shares a Muslim and Christian population, was making strides in that area and agreed to vote for the partnership.

Vice Mayor John Kennedy was ebullient following the unanimous vote, saying, “The Mayor led the effort on behalf of the Council to give the rationale why this made sense at this juncture, along with my colleague Tyron Hampton.”

“I’m just so proud of Tyron and his leadership and the fact that we successfully answered all of the questions that the mayor had as it relates to LGBT issues, women’s rights and some of the thornier issues that exist, not only in Africa, but exist in the United States as well,” Kennedy said.

A number of speakers expressed the idea and hope that the new relationship would result in cultural and business exchanges between Dakar-Plateau and Pasadena, as well as foster exchanges between members of the arts and media communities.

Dakar-Plateau itself is relatively small, with a population of 36,900, but it one of 16 districts of Senegal’s capital of Dakar, a sprawling coastal city of over 1 million. Dakar is the westernmost city on the African mainland.

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