Eric Adams returns from Ghana, his mind cleansed and his to-do list full

He met foreign dignitaries and participated in a spiritual purification ceremony . He visited infamous slave trade sites and visited th...


He met foreign dignitaries and participated in a spiritual purification ceremony. He visited infamous slave trade sites and visited thriving local businesses. And he celebrated Hanukkah with another Brooklynite, about 5,000 miles from his home.

As New York City grappled with a series of pressing challenges over the past week that will have lasting implications for the incoming city government, the mayor-elect, Eric adams, was in Ghana, seeking, he said, his roots on a “spiritual journey.

For many black Americans, a visit to Ghana – a countries whose ports millions of Africans have gone through the brutal journey to the plantations – it is a heartbreaking and moving experience. And Mr. Adams, who should be New York City second black mayor, presented his recent trip there as proof of resilience and progress.

“My ancestors left Africa with slavery,” Adams said at a recent event. “I’m going home with the town hall. And if I am only doing this for my aspiration, then I have failed these ancestors. “

But after more than a week of absence, Mr. Adams is back in a city facing serious problems of public health and public security, and a new one, generalized vaccination mandate that he must navigate.

He must also relaunch a transition process which has so far fallen behind the pace set by his predecessor.

Mr Adams left town without naming his future administration, unlike Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had advertised positions such as Commissioner of Police, First Deputy Mayor and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the end of the first week of December 2013.

On Thursday, Mr. Adams officially announced his new choice for the chancellor of schools, David Banks, a sign that his transition is accelerating. He opened the event with a direct rebuke to anyone who would question his overseas trip, including, he said, the “tabloids.”

“People who criticize this, they just didn’t get it,” Adams said. “They just didn’t get what my campaign represented to so many people in this city and in this country.

His team insists that he has remained strongly engaged in the transition work from Ghana. He also kept an eye on New York City politics as his main lieutenants waded into the City Council Speakers Race, a contest that has important implications for Mr. Adams’ agenda and has become increasingly controversial.

The mayor-elect has worked continuously throughout his trip, chatting regularly with key advisers about the Omicron threat and other pressing issues, while preparing for his new administration and planning a number of major announcements at his time. back, ”said Evan Thies, his spokesperson.

Few would blame Mr Adams for a post-election holiday or question the meaning of his trip to Ghana. But his visit came less than a month before he was sworn in at one of the country’s most important jobs, and some have questioned the timing.

“It’s very unusual,” said Maya Wiley, a former adviser to Mr. de Blasio and a civil rights lawyer, who appeared against Mr. Adams in the mayor’s primary in June. “What I could say is that it surprises me that this is a trip that could not be made after primary, and that it is a very intense time for most of the new administrations taking office.”

The trip was largely closed to the press, which Mr Thies defended by emphasizing the privacy of the trip – but it was hardly a quiet resort retreat. Mr. Adams met with political and civic figures, including a former president of Ghana and the mayor of Accra, the capital, and delivered his own speeches.

Interviews with Ghanaian leaders and a review of social media posts show that he has spent a lot of time with the African Heritage and Culture Society Foundation, or HACSA, an organization that focuses on issues such as the promotion of African heritage and the establishment of links with the diaspora.

The group is led by Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, former Ghanaian Ambassador to France and Portugal, who accompanied Mr. Adams on parts of his trip.

“HACSA’s mission is to help members of the African diaspora go back to their roots and uncover their history – a mission that has touched the mayor-elect deeply,” said Mr. Thies, asking how Mr. Adams was related to the organization.

Mr. Adams was the guest of honor at a celebration for the group, where he met officials like the director of UNESCO in Accra, Abdourahamane Diallo.

“We discussed the areas of possible cooperation in the fields of education, culture and heritage with New York City, from heritage to UNESCO’s program on cities,” Mr. Diallo said in a statement. e-mail, relayed by a spokesperson.

A HACSA press release also said Mr. Adams pledged his support for an initiative designed to connect “young people in the diaspora” with Africa.

Mr Thies said Mr Adams paid for the trip himself, but as a rule they would not provide receipts. Gabriella Lourie, a representative of the group, said HACSA had not funded the trip.

Mr. Adams visited a range of sites of significant historical, economic and cultural significance to Ghana, and was accompanied on the trip by his partner, Tracey Collins. He spent time at the home of civil rights leader and activist WEB Du Bois and the surrounding complex, where Mr Thies said house guards added a tribute to Mr Adams’ mother on a wall in honor of black leaders.

“He was deeply moved by this,” Mr. Thies said.

Mr. Adams visited companies that reflect the importance of products like cocoa to the Ghanaian economy.

And he received a new name – Barima Yaw Asamani, a nod to a royal black warrior – as part of a traditional ceremony of spiritual cleansing. The practice was undertaken because her ancestors were forced to leave the country against their will, according to one of the elders involved.

“This is not the first person who was purified and who was renamed,” said Nana Semanhyia Darko, spokesperson for the head of state of Akwamu, who performed the ceremony. “African Americans visited this place and we renamed them.”

A central part of Mr. Adams’ visit was a trip to the famous Cape Coast slave forts and Elmina Castles, and he stopped at “Door without return. “When President Obama made a similar stop in 2009, he said the experience illustrated “pure evil” and reminded him of a concentration camp.

This experience “was an emotional moment for the mayor-elect who gave him a perspective on the importance of the challenges that lie ahead as the next city leader,” Thies said.

Mr. Adams was not available for an interview to discuss these takeouts and other aspects of his trip.

HACSA, however, offered a constant stream of updates. on social networks. An Instagram photo showed him standing near a cannon in Cape Coast, wearing sunglasses and looking out to sea with a grim expression.

Another image showed him dressed in a colorful and flowing outfit as he posed at a memorial site in honor of Kwame Nkrumah, saluting the former ruler of Ghana who was at the forefront of the national battle for independence. He visited the site with Nkrumah’s daughter, Samia.

“I think it’s good that our mayor is visiting Africa,” said Yaw Nyarko, professor of economics at New York University who runs NYU Africa House and works in Ghana. “New York is a big city, I think it’s one of the few cities where the mayor really has a foreign policy.”

The professor noted that the Ghanaian government job by encouraging tourists, especially African Americans, to visit. Asked about Mr. Adams to pretend that Ghanaians awaited his visit as they awaited Mr. Obama’s, he laughed.

“It’s a bit unfair, Obama was the president, Adams is not yet mayor; so there is definitely a difference in the level of name recognition, ”he said. But, he added, “Everyone is eager to see more connections between Ghana and New York.”

A clear connection was made evident at the start of Mr. Adams’ trip, when he showed up at a Hanukkah celebration hosted by Chabad. Rabbi Noach Majesky, the Chabad Rabbi in Accra, is from Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

He described Mr. Adams’ visit as “a Birthright-type trip.”

The New York Post first reported on the Hanukkah visit. Mr Adams has been linked to the event by Ms Svanikier’s husband Thomas Svanikier, Chabad officials said.

Dressed in what appeared to be a light yellow dashiki shirt, Mr Adams posed in front of a photo of a menorah, said Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh great rebbe of the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement based in Crown Heights, and discussed the “opening wounds” of the Holocaust and slavery, according to videos provided by Chabad of Ghana.

“I have come here to heal the open wound of slavery and reconnect with my ancestors,” said Adams, speaking on a stage bathed in red light. “I am happy to be here in Ghana with you, to show how great we are as a people.”

An electric guitar riffed on the opening notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as another day for an overseas mayor drew to a close.

Reporting was provided by Philip Nii Lartey in Ghana, Ruth maclean in Dakar, Senegal, and Michael M. Grynbaum At New York. Susan C. beachy contributed research.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Eric Adams returns from Ghana, his mind cleansed and his to-do list full
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