Pasadena Considers First African Sister City

Published : Friday, August 10, 2018 | 5:37 AM

Pasadena may soon reach out to the west coast of Africa to add its next Sister City, the first on the African continent.

Dakar-Plateau is a borough of about 34,000 people in the center of Senegal’s capital city of Dakar, just over 6,240 miles from the Pasadena.

Dakar is the capital of Senegal, positioned on Africa's western coast. Google maps

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to discuss and vote on the possible partnership at a late August meeting. The Sister Cities Committee has been working on plans for the arrangement for several years, according to Committee President Fred Alcantar, Jr.

“Through letters back and forth and talking with people in the various cities, they eventually settled on Dakar, and actually, they did a… field trip to Dakar a few months ago and met with the mayor. So that got the process started,” he said.

“I think that it’ll develop into some sort of an exchange program with students,” Alcantar said. “That’s what we’re doing now with Germany and Finland.”

Pasadena already has already teamed with five international sister cities over the past 70 years: Ludwigshafen, Germany; Mishima, Japan; Järvenpää, Finland; Vanadzor, Armenia; and Xicheng District – Beijing, China.

Councilman John Kennedy said he’s all for it.

Through the Sister Cities program, “You establish a lifetime friendship and lifetime transfer of knowledge and information,” he said. “We’ve had students from all of our Sister City relationships come to our city and there’s mutual exchanges, educational exchanges where they entertain our students and we host their students.”

“So there’s mutuality of benefit there, and cross-cultural understanding takes place. And it allows one to appreciate other cultures and other international dynamics on the world stage, at our level, as opposed to the federal government level,” according to Kennedy.

It’s been a long time coming, he said.

“About 20 years ago (a) group came together, and under the auspices of the Sister Cities Organization in Pasadena, fought to have a city in an African country named as a Sister City in Pasadena,” Kennedy said. “We have them in Finland and Japan, China, Armenia, but none in one of the largest continents on the globe.”

“So that group put their heads together and made a very strong effort to move that objective forward,” he said. “Kind of floundered, if you will. And then it was resurrected by community leaders recently, about three years ago.”

Kennedy credited the Sister City organization’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Africa and its leader, Boualem Bousseloub, for their work.

“Earlier this year, March and April, I led a delegation at his request to Dakar, Senegal and we were hosted by the mayor of that city,” Kennedy said

“We were there for about nine days a touring all their facilities, their ports — one of the largest ports in Africa — of course, educational institutions, museums… all just trying to get a feel and understanding of the country and how there might be a symbiotic relationship between the city of Pasadena, and Dakar-Plateau.”

The Council meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 100 North Garfield Ave.

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