RICHMOND, VA. (WWBT) - Richmond has a new partner from half way around the world. The river city is now a sister city with Segue in the republic of Mali, the seventh largest country in Africa.
Richmond's been in the sister city program for 20 years. It has partnerships with England, Poland, China, Germany and Korea. Former Mayor Doug Wilder did not support the program, so it hasn't been done in several years. But when Mayor Dwight Jones took office, he pledged to bring it back:
The deal is inked. Richmond has a new global partner, the city of Segue in the republic of Mali. A West African nation with a population similar to Virginia, with 13 million people. And despite being across the Atlantic from each other, the two cities have quite a bit in common. Both are capitals with river's running through.
"They have a wonderful sense of nature and wisdom that might be refreshing for us," said Mayor Dwight Jones.
Segue's mayor says he has much to learn from the river city and much to share.
"I thank everybody who's been involved in receiving us so generously in Richmond," said Mayor Ousmane Simaga.
The delegation spent the weekend at the Folk Festival, also touring schools and the universities. And the two cities are already trading ideas. Segue's mayor says he'd like to play a role in developing Richmond's slave trail.
"There's a heritage there between the two continents and I think it's critical that we blend them and bring them together," said Bruce Tyler, Richmond City Council.
The new relationship is meant to open new worlds for both cities.
"There's so much in sharing and communicating. Who knows what we can do to be of assistance to them and who knows what they can do to be in assistance to us," said Jones.
Segue has invited Richmond to send a delegation to its city in February of 2010. Richmond city leaders are considering the request, and may need to raise funding from the private sector. In the past, previous trips were paid for by the individuals who visited the countries and not through city funds.