Resident of Great Barrington's West African sister city visits for ceremony

Residents of Great Barrington stand with Peace Sarambe, a representative of Fada N' Gourma, the town's new sister city in the West African country of Burkina Faso. Also pictured to Sarambe's right are Ina and Esu Anahata.

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Peace Sarambe embraced residents of his sister city with handshakes, hugs, and a ready smile.

On Tuesday afternoon, the resident of West Africa was in Great Barrington to attend a ceremony unveiling a new sign on Main Street publicizing Great Barrington's new sister city partnership with his hometown, Fada N' Gourma, in the country of Burkina Faso.

There are new signs on both ends of Main Street entering downtown.

"This way all these guys who are coming down the road will see the sign," Town Manager Kevin O'Donnell said. "People driving from the south end will see that sign as well. It might force people to ask some questions."

Ina and Esu Anahata -- founders of the BARKA Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates peace, justice and sustainability -- originally reached out to town officials several years ago who would agree to the sister-city partnership.

If everything goes according to plan, the town of Great Barrington will be hearing more about Fada N' Gourma. Representatives from the towns have been communicating with each other for two years.

Sarambe, 32, an English teacher, arrived in Great Barrington on Saturday for a four-day stay, during which he talked to members of the Rotary Club and other clubs and groups, extended a hand of friendship and promoted the sister city program.

Sarambe said Fada N' Gourma is an international safari destination and is renowned for its production of honey.

"We would like ... to join hands and create a sister city team to involve everyone," Sarambe said.

There are currently applications being accepted for a sister city committee to develop cross-cultural programming. Interested individuals can contact town hall.

Sometime in the near future, that could mean student exchanges. Sarambe said he'd like to see farmers from Fada N' Gourma and Great Barrington learn from each other.

A project will begin this year that will include students in each town sharing photos of their everyday life, he said.

Monterey resident Michael Johnson said he'd like to see the town raise money for computers for Fada N' Gourma. Earlier this year, he said students at the school protested the lack of computers.

Through four days, Sarambe said he's been focused on meeting new people with the expectation of creating long-lasting relationships.

"This is just the very beginning and I hope the people of Great Barrington and Fada N' Gourma are going to have a strong link," he said.

To reach John Sakata:, or (413) 496-6240.

On Twitter: @jsakata