Friday, December 16, 2011

Two Greenvilles

Who knew? After posting the story about the November 2011 reunion at Prospect Hill Plantation and the two Mississippis, I came across a news item from Sept. 11, 2009, announcing that Greenville, Mississippi (in the U.S.) and Greenville, Liberia (in the area originally known as Mississippi in Africa) are now official sister cities.

Somehow I had missed that development. Serendipitously, a few days later I was informed by Evans Yancy, who is from Greenville, Liberia and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia (in the U.S.), that he had tried, unsuccessfully, to contact me in May 2011 about the sister cities announcement. Evans, who responded to an email from me, didn’t say how he had tried to get in touch, but said that he visited Greenville, Mississippi at that time as a member of the Greenville (Liberia) Development Association. The delegation met with Greenville, Mississippi Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson and the city council.

According to the news item, which ran on the website, the two Greenvilles entered into a sister city trade agreement in Monrovia, Liberia, with signatories including Honorary Consul General Cynthia Blandford Nash, of Atlanta; Greenville, Mississippi mayoral representative Ed Johnson; Greenville, Liberia Mayor Barbara Ann Moore Keah; and various other dignitaries, mostly from Sinoe County, of which Greenville, Liberia is the capital.

In case you haven’t read previous posts on this site about Prospect Hill and the two Mississippis, Liberia was founded by freed American slaves in the early 19th century and today encompasses regions named for various former homelands of the emigrants, including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia. In 2003, I published a nonfiction book on the subject titled Mississippi in Africa.

Typically, for sister city agreements, the Greenvilles’ alliance was described as a means “to further friendly diplomatic relations, enhance cultural and historic understanding and cooperation, and to promote international trade between Greenville, Mississippi of the United States of America, and Greenville, Sinoe County of the Republic of Liberia,” according to the news item.

Greenville, Mississippi is one of the more depressed cities in the U.S., located in the poorest region of the poorest state, yet no doubt seems flush compared with war-torn Greenville, Liberia (the nation was in civil war throughout the 1990s and early 2000s).

Coincidentally, Greenville, Mississippi Mayor Hudson is running for the U.S. Congress for District 2, a post currently held by Bennie Thompson. My friend Jefferson Kanmoh, whom I met while researching my book, represents Sinoe County in the Liberian Congress.

Top photo, of Greenville, Liberia, by Scott Harrison; bottom photo, of Greenville, Mississippi, pulled from the internet at

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