Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is on a seven-day business mission to South Africa, leading a delegation of 36 business and civic leaders to visit the county’s co-capital, the Bafokeng Nation.
Former Prince George’s County Council member Dorothy Bailey met the former King of the Bafokeng Nation in the 1980s and encouraged County Executive Wayne Curry to make the co-municipal relationship official.
“Even though there were differences, there were so many similarities that reminded me of Prince George’s County,” she said.
Some call it the original Wakanda because of its wealth and resources.
“I think they knew they were resource people and they worked to maintain that, and it’s kind of like Prince George’s County, in a sense,” Bailey said.
Known as the platinum kings, the nation bought back its land from its colonizers in the early 1900s. Later they discovered that the land was filled with platinum, and now it is the richest tribe in Africa, worth an estimated $4 billion.
“We saw them working and coming forward, fighting apartheid,” Bailey said.
The former king and his two sons died under mysterious circumstances that some of the nation considered as the nation was in a legal battle to keep royalties from its platinum mines.
The youngest son and current king was inaugurated 20 years ago. Alsobrooks was there on a trip as an educational liaison for the county.
“It was long before I myself came into my public office, but I remember this young king and the great sacrifice he was making, after seeing his father and his two brothers who died before him, while he ascend to these thrones,” Alsobrooks said.
The Bafokeng have also learned a lot from the county, including the design of the FedEx arena, which they saw being built under the Curry administration.
“They were so amazing that they could draw what they saw and they built a stadium very similar to FedEx Field,” Alsobrooks said.
This is the first international trip for the county executive since he took office. More than a cultural exchange, she said it’s an opportunity to market Prince George’s County to South Africa.
“In terms of business, growing our economy, that’s what we hope to do, and the only way to do that, really, is to go out and market the county,” she said. .
Prince George’s County Council Chairman Calvin Hawkins, school CEO Monica Goldson and some of the county’s executive staff are among those on the trip, which will cost taxpayers an estimated $40,000. The business leaders who are attending paid themselves, according to the county spokeswoman.