Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is on a seven-day trade mission to South Africa, leading a delegation of 36 business leaders and civilians to visit the county’s sister city, the Bafokeng Nation .
Former Prince George County Councilmember Dorothy Bailey met the former King of the Bafokeng Nation in the 1980s and encouraged County Executive Wayne Curry to formalize the relationship with the sister city.
“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 affluent people and they worked to maintain that, and it’s kind of like Prince George’s County, in a way,” Bailey said.
Known as the Platinum Kings, the nation redeemed its land from its colonizers in the early 1900s. Later, they discovered the land was filled with platinum, and now it is the wealthiest tribe in Africa, worth an estimated $4 billion.
“We saw them working and emerging, fighting apartheid,” Bailey said.
The former king and two of his sons died in what some in the country considered mysterious circumstances as the country was in a legal battle to retain royalties from its platinum mines.
The youngest son and current king was inaugurated 20 years ago. Alsobrooks was there on a trip as an education liaison for the county.
“Long before I entered public service myself, but I remember this young king and the enormous sacrifice he was making, after watching his father and his two brothers who died before him, and he ascended to that throne,” Alsobrooks said.
The Bafokengs also learned a lot from the county, including the design of the FedEx field, which they saw being built under the Curry administration.
“They were so brilliant that they could draw what they saw and they built a stadium very similar to FedEx Field,” Alsobrooks said.
This is the county executive’s first international trip since taking office. More than a cultural exchange, she said it was an opportunity to market Prince George’s County to South Africa.
“In business, growing our economy is 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 County Council Speaker Calvin Hawkins, Schools CEO Monica Goldson and some county executive staff are among those traveling, which will cost taxpayers around $40,000. Business leaders who attend have paid for themselves, according to county spokespersons.