Prince George’s County Magistrate Angela Alsobrooks is on a seven-day business visit to South Africa, leading a delegation of 36 business and civic leaders to the county’s sister city, Bafokeng Nation.
Dorothy Bailey, a former member of the Prince George’s County Council, met the former king of the Bafalcon tribe in the 1980s and encouraged Sheriff Wayne Curry to formalize the sister city relationship.
“Despite the differences, there are so many similarities that remind me of Prince George’s County,” she said.
Because of its wealth and resources, some call it the original Wakanda.
“I think they know they’re rich, and they work hard to maintain that, and in a way, it’s a bit like Prince George’s County,” Bailey said.
The country known as the Platinum King bought the land back from colonists in the early 1900s. They later discovered that the land was rich in platinum, and it is now the richest tribe in Africa, worth an estimated $4 billion.
“We saw them working and showing up, fighting segregation,” Bailey said.
The former king and his two sons died in what some in the country considered mysterious circumstances as the country was engaged in a legal battle to retain royalties from its platinum mines.
The youngest son and current king took office 20 years ago. Alsobrooks was there on business as the county’s education liaison.
“Long before I held public office myself, but I remember this young king and the great sacrifices he made, watching his father and two brothers who died before him, he ascended to this throne,” Alsobrooks said .
Bafokeng also learned a lot from the county, including the design of the FedEx field, which they saw being built under the Curry government.
“They were so smart that they were able to draw what they saw, and they built a stadium that was very similar to FedEx Field,” Alsobrooks said.
This is the first time the county magistrate has gone abroad since he took office. She said this was not just a cultural exchange, but an opportunity to promote Prince George’s County to South Africa.
“Commercially, growing our economy, that’s what we want to do, and the only way to really do that is to get out there and market the county,” she said.
Prince George’s County Council chairwoman Calvin Hawkins, school chief executive Monica Goldson and some of the county’s administrators are all on board for the trip, which will cost taxpayers about $40,000. The business leaders who attended paid for themselves, according to a county spokesman.