Two mayors, two cities, one goal

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

SALISBURY — City Mayor Karen Alexander welcomed an unusual but exciting guest Friday evening at city hall.

Monrovia, Liberia, Mayor Jefferson Koijee joined Alexander and several other dignitaries about 5 p.m. so the two mayors could sign, in person, a memorandum of understanding between the two cities.

In January of this year, the Salisbury City Council approved a joint resolution to establish a sister city relationship with Monrovia, intended to “emphasize the sharing of information related to economic development, cultural exchange, educational advancement, law enforcement, sanitation, trade, human capacity building and technology,” the resolution states.

The partnership was in part encouraged by newly-appointed Livingstone College President, Dr. Anthony Davis, formerly vice president of operations, and James Hunder of the Winston-Salem-based Liberian Organization of the Piedmont. Following Salisbury’s successful sister city relationship with Salisbury, England, Alexander said it seemed like a natural next step.

Koijee was in the U.S. on a separate UN mission and asked to make a side trip to Salisbury in order to sign the document in person. He came into office in 2018, and oversees a city of more than a million people, a substantially larger city than Salisbury but he expressed tremendous interest in how Salisbury operates. He asked Alexander about a number of programs, from the police department to waste collection.

Following an official signing by both, Alexander presented the visiting mayor with a Salisbury collar pin and a game of Salisbury-opoly, a local version of the game Monopoly, before taking some time for lemonade and treats.

She congratulated Koijee on Monrovia being selected by the Global Parliament of Mayors as the host of the 2023 Global Parliament of Mayors Summit, which she plans to attend.

America’s relationship with the West African nation of Liberia dates back to the 19th century. In the early 1800s, the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia south of Sierra Leone as a homeland for freed U.S. slaves outside of British jurisdiction. Monrovia was named after America’s fifth president, James Monroe.

Livingstone College, a historically Black college, has a long history with Liberia through its founding denomination A.M.E. Zion Church and through its collaboration with the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont, located in Winston-Salem. Livingstone College sponsors two Liberian students every four years.