He met with overseas dignitaries and took part in a spiritual cleansing ceremony. He visited notorious websites of the slave commerce and toured thriving native companies. And he celebrated Hanukkah with a fellow Brooklynite, about 5,000 miles from residence.
As New York Metropolis grappled with a spate of pressing challenges over the previous week that can have lasting implications for the incoming mayoral administration, the mayor-elect, Eric Adams, was in Ghana, looking, he has stated, for his roots on a “spiritual journey.”
For a lot of Black Individuals, a go to to Ghana — a country through whose ports hundreds of thousands of Africans handed on the brutal journey to plantations — is a wrenching and transferring expertise. And Mr. Adams, slated to be New York Metropolis’s second Black mayor, has solid his latest journey there as proof of resilience and progress.
“My ancestors left Africa with slavery,” Mr. Adams declared at one latest occasion. “I’m coming residence with the mayoralty. And if I try this just for my aspiration, then I failed these ancestors.”
However after greater than every week away, Mr. Adams has returned to a metropolis that’s confronting critical issues of public health and public safety, and a brand new, sweeping vaccine mandate that he should navigate.
He should additionally jump-start a transition course of that has, up to now, lagged the tempo set by his predecessor.
Mr. Adams left city having made no appointments to his future administration — in distinction to Mayor Invoice de Blasio, who had introduced roles together with police commissioner, first deputy mayor and director of intergovernmental affairs by the top of the primary week of December 2013.
On Thursday, Mr. Adams formally introduced his new choice for schools chancellor, David Banks, an indication his transition is accelerating. He opened the occasion with a direct rebuke of anybody who would query his journey overseas, together with, he stated, the “tabloids.”
“Individuals who criticize this, they only didn’t get it,” Mr. Adams stated. “They only didn’t get what my campaign represented to so many individuals on this metropolis and on this nation.”
His workforce insists that he remained closely engaged in transition work from Ghana. He additionally stored tabs on New York Metropolis politics as his prime lieutenants waded into the Metropolis Council speaker’s race, a contest that has vital implications for Mr. Adams’s agenda and has turn into more and more contentious.
“The mayor-elect labored regularly all through his journey, commonly speaking with key advisers concerning the Omicron menace and different urgent points, whereas getting ready his new administration and planning for plenty of main bulletins on his return,” stated Evan Thies, his spokesman.
Few would begrudge Mr. Adams a postelection trip or query the which means of his journey to Ghana. However his go to got here lower than a month earlier than he’s to be sworn in to one of the crucial consequential jobs within the nation, and a few questioned the timing.
“It is rather uncommon,” stated Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mr. de Blasio and a civil rights lawyer, who ran in opposition to Mr. Adams within the June mayoral main. “What I might say is that it surprises me that this was a visit that might not be taken after the first, and that it’s a very intense time for many new administrations coming into workplace.”
The journey was largely closed to the press, which Mr. Thies defended by emphasizing the non-public nature of the journey — but it surely was hardly a quiet resort retreat. Mr. Adams met with politically and civically outstanding folks, together with a former president of Ghana and the mayor of Accra, the capital metropolis, and delivered speeches of his personal.
Interviews with leaders in Ghana and a evaluation of social media postings present that he spent vital time with the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Basis, or HACSA, a company that’s centered on points together with selling African heritage and constructing connections with the diaspora.
The group is helmed by Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, a former Ghanaian ambassador to France and Portugal, who accompanied Mr. Adams on components of his journey.
“HACSA’s mission is to assist members of the African diaspora return to their roots and study their historical past — a mission that deeply resonated with the mayor-elect,” Mr. Thies stated, requested how Mr. Adams was related to the group.
Mr. Adams was the visitor of honor at a celebration for the group, the place he encountered officers like UNESCO’s Accra director, Abdourahamane Diallo.
“We mentioned areas of potential cooperation in schooling, tradition and heritage with the Metropolis of New York, from Heritage to the UNESCO’s program on cities,” Mr. Diallo stated in an e mail, relayed by means of a spokeswoman.
A information launch from HACSA additionally stated Mr. Adams pledged his assist for an initiative designed to attach “diaspora youth” with Africa.
Mr. Thies stated Mr. Adams paid for the journey himself, however stated that as a matter of coverage they’d not present receipts. Gabriella Lourie, a consultant for the group, stated HACSA didn’t fund the journey.
Mr. Adams visited a spread of websites of great historic, financial and cultural significance to Ghana, and was joined on the journey by his companion, Tracey Collins. He hung out on the residence of the civil rights chief and activist W.E.B. Du Bois and the encircling advanced, the place Mr. Thies stated the house’s caretakers added a tribute to Mr. Adams’s mom to a wall honoring Black leaders.
“He was deeply moved by that,” Mr. Thies stated.
Mr. Adams toured companies that mirror the significance of products like cocoa to the Ghanaian economic system.
And he acquired a new name — Barima Yaw Asamani, a nod to a Black royal warrior — as a part of a standard religious cleaning ceremony. The apply was undertaken as a result of his ancestors had been pressured in another country in opposition to their will, in keeping with one of many elders concerned.
“He’s not the primary one who has been cleansed and who has been renamed,” stated Nana Semanhyia Darko, the spokesman for the chief of Akwamu state, who carried out the ceremony. “African Individuals have been visiting this place, and we’ve been renaming them.”
A central a part of Mr. Adams’s go to was a visit to the infamous slave forts of Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, and he stopped on the “Door of No Return.” When President Obama made a similar stop in 2009, he stated the expertise illustrated “pure evil” and reminded him of a focus camp.
That have “was an emotional second for the mayor-elect that gave him perspective on the significance of the challenges forward for him as town’s subsequent chief,” Mr. Thies stated.
Mr. Adams was not made out there for an interview to debate these takeaways and different elements of his journey.
HACSA, nevertheless, provided a gentle stream of updates on social media. One Instagram image confirmed him standing close to a canon at Cape Coast, sporting sun shades and gazing on the sea with a somber expression.
One other picture confirmed him sporting colourful, flowing garb as he posed at a memorial website honoring Kwame Nkrumah, saluting the previous chief of Ghana who was on the forefront of the nation’s battle for independence. He toured the positioning with Nkrumah’s daughter, Samia.
“I feel it’s good that our mayor is visiting Africa,” stated Yaw Nyarko, a professor of economics at New York College who heads N.Y.U. Africa Home and does work in Ghana. “New York is an enormous metropolis, I feel it’s one of many few cities the place the mayor really has a overseas coverage.”
The professor famous the Ghanaian authorities’s work in encouraging vacationers, particularly African Individuals, to go to. Requested about Mr. Adams’s claim that the folks of Ghana had been awaiting his go to as they did Mr. Obama’s, he laughed.
“It’s a little bit bit unfair, Obama was the president, Adams is but to be mayor; so definitely there’s a distinction in degree of title recognition,” he stated. However, he added, “All people is anxious to see extra connections between Ghana and New York.”
One clear connection was on show early in Mr. Adams’s journey, when he confirmed up at a Hanukkah celebration hosted by Chabad. Rabbi Noach Majesky, the Chabad rabbi in Accra, is from Crown Heights in Brooklyn.
He described Mr. Adams’s go to as “a Birthright sort of journey.”
The New York Publish first reported on the Hanukkah go to. Mr. Adams was related to the occasion by Ms. Svanikier’s husband, Thomas Svanikier, Chabad officers stated.
Sporting what gave the impression to be a light-weight yellow dashiki shirt, Mr. Adams posed earlier than an image of a menorah, spoke of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh grand rebbe of the Lubavitch Hasidic motion whose base is in Crown Heights, and mentioned the “open wounds” of the Holocaust and slavery, in keeping with movies supplied by Chabad of Ghana.
“I got here right here to shut the open wound of slavery and reconnect with my ancestors,” Mr. Adams stated, talking on a stage bathed in purple mild. “I’m pleased to be right here in Ghana with you, exhibiting how nice we’re as a folks.”
An electrical guitar riffed on the primary few notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as one other day for a mayor-elect overseas got here to an in depth.
Reporting was contributed by Philip Nii Lartey in Ghana, Ruth Maclean in Dakar, Senegal, and Michael M. Grynbaum in New York. Susan C. Beachy contributed analysis.