Isanti gains a sister city in Liberia

Members of a delegation from Unification City, Liberia, attended the Oct. 15 Isanti city council meeting in celebration of the establishment of a sister city relationship between Unification City and Isanti. Also attending were members of Isanti’s New Horizons Church, who initiated the idea for the designation, as well as Isanti city staff. 

The city of Isanti has a new sister city in Liberia after Isanti City Council adopted a resolution granting that status to Unification City at its meeting Oct. 15.

Unification City adopted a resolution Oct. 9 requesting the sister city relationship with Isanti. Unification City mayor Samuel Barrain presented the resolution at the Isanti city council meeting. In attendance with him was Margibi County police chief Sylvester Hina.  

The idea for the sister city relationship was initiated by Reverend Alexander B. Collins, Rebecca Collins and New Horizons Church, of Isanti, with support from Isanti residents Joseph Dorbor, Helena Borbor, Albert Lee Peters, Edith Merab and Rudolph Merab, according to the resolution from Unification City.

A sister city relationship was also supported by the Liberian government, the Liberian community in Minnesota and the Margibi Association of the Americas, according to the resolution.

The history of Liberia, Unification City and its relationship to the U.S. and Isanti were also part of Unification City’s resolution.

The American Colonization Society began sending freed slaves and repatriated Americans of African descent to the area now known as the Republic of Liberia in 1820. The Republic of Liberia passed its Declaration of Independence and created its Constitution, modeled after that of the U.S., in 1847.

During World War II, black GIs were stationed in Liberia to guard the runways set up for transatlantic military flights. Although the base was off-limits to most Liberians, the smell of American food being cooked wafted outside the walls of the border of the base, giving the city its first name – Smell No Taste. The name eventually changed to Unification Town, then Unification City.

The Firestone Rubber Plantation is part of the city, as well as Liberia’s only airport – Roberts International Airport. It is strategically located on the Du River and boasts the newly constructed Farmington Hotel.

Both resolutions acknowledged the presence of Liberians living in Isanti. Many of those Liberians are citizens of Marbigi County and Unification City, according to Unification City’s resolution.

Both resolutions acknowledge that the sister city relationship will allow cooperation between the two cities in sharing things that will enable both cities to benefit.

Specifically, the resolution adopted by the City of Isanti states:

- the parties shall encourage cooperation in areas of culture, arts, and sciences through the exchange of delegations and experiences of exhibitions, festivals, seminars, and conferences.

- the parties shall encourage cooperation and knowledge in economic development, transportation, and utilities through the exchange of delegations and experiences and participation in conferences held in the two cities.

- the parties shall encourage cooperation in the area of sports, tourism, and youth through the exchange of delegations and the coordination of participation in relevant activities.

Unification City’s resolution also states the sister city relationship is a form of social friendship that promotes global, mutual cultural and commercial ties; promotes people-to-people relationship between the cities of Isanti and Unification City; enhances mutual cultural awareness and sensitivity; exchanges of municipal leadership ideas and resources; as well as students and teachers exchanges and travels by the cities’ delegations. 

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