Charlottesville Delegation Returns from Sister City in Ghana

Posted: Updated: May 11, 2018 06:10 PM
Photo courtesy of Don Gathers Photo courtesy of Don Gathers
Don and DeTeasa Gathers renewed their vows on the trip Don and DeTeasa Gathers renewed their vows on the trip
The Charlottesville delegation traveled to Winneba for nine days The Charlottesville delegation traveled to Winneba for nine days

A trip to Winneba, Ghana, is an experience a group of people in Charlottesville say they will not soon forget.

The group just returned from a trip learning about Charlottesville’s sister city and the history of slavery - and had a lot of fun along the way.

Winneba is one of four sister cities with which Charlottesville has a relationship.

Fifty-six people from Charlottesville traveled to Winneba for a nine-day trip to learn how two very different cities can still find a lot of common ground.

This was former Mayor Dave Norris's sixth trip to Ghana.

"I'm the volunteer executive director for the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation,” says Norris. “But we had a lot of support and help from our partners on the ground in Ghana."

While much of the trip was fun and celebration, the delegation also spent a majority of the time learning about Winneba and Charlottesville's dark slavery ties prior to the U.S. Civil War.

"When you go into the dungeons where they would keep captives while they were awaiting the slave ships to bring them here to be sold one block away from here, that's tough," says Norris.

Norris says one of his favorite moments of the trip was officiating a renewal of vows for his friend Don Gathers.

“While he was in Ghana, he organized a vow renewal ceremony with his lovely bride DeTeasa," says Norris.

"I spoke with Dave a couple weeks before going over, so with him being an officiant it was pretty much all set,” says Don Gathers, a Charlottesville community activist.

Don and DeTeasa say the trip sparked inspiration for them.

"I came back with the thought of researching a little bit more on what is malaria, what do they need for treatment,” says DeTeasa Gathers.

"If there's anything that we as a delegation could agree on, it’s that the people there realize the blessings that they have in front of them - which is the direct opposite of what many of us feel here,” says Don.

The delegation hopes to get the chance to return soon to Africa.

"Oh my God,” says Don. “It was one of the most incredible moments of my life."

Norris says he hopes representatives from Ghana will visit Charlottesville more to show off their culture and traditions at events and in schools.