CONCOURSE, the Bronx — Tuesday was the first full day of a week-long visit to the West African nation of Ghana by New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams. The trip, which Adams has said he’s wanted to do for years, nonetheless came as a surprise to many people, since he departed on the same day that the U.S. travel ban with eight southern African countries went into effect, over concerns about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
However, because Adams is fully vaccinated, including having a booster shot, the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, says that Adams is in compliance with the travel requirements that the city’s health commissioner recommends.
“The bottom line about travel is being vaccinated,” de Blasio said, in an interview Monday night. “Until we hear some different guidance from the federal government, the rule of the road is really clear — get vaccinated.”
Ghana is not one of the countries covered by the travel ban.
It’s really not even close. It’s separated by a few thousand miles from the eight banned countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Ghana’s capital, Accra, is also 4,490 miles away from the southern African city with the highest reported Omicron variant case rate, Johannesburg.
Some perspective: that’s only about 700 miles less distant than Accra is from New York — 5,117 miles.
In recent years, the Ghanaian government has encouraged African Americans to explore their ancestral roots in the country, particularly at holiday time. That’s what Adams is doing. He’s said that it’s a spiritual journey for him. De Blasio said that he supports that.
“I really appreciate why he’s going on this trip,” the mayor said on NY1 on Monday. “First of all, he really deserves a break, in my opinion, before he takes office. Second, this is very emotionally and personally important to him.” Also, in a city where 40% of the population is foreign born, and nearly 60% of residents are people of color, Adams going to his ancestral roots in West Africa doesn’t hurt him politically.
It’s not necessarily pundits saying that. It’s people like Adisa Shuaib, a Bronx resident who spent part of Tuesday afternoon at African Market on 167th Street in the Concourse section of the Bronx.
“I was born and raised in Ghana,” she said, adding that she was proud that the next mayor of her city had chosen to go to her birth country.
“For him acknowledging that he’s part of us, is a big success for us,” she said.
Adams will return on Dec. 8. That will give him three and-a-half weeks back in New York before taking office.
De Blasio said that his successor’s vacation is worth the time, because Adams won’t have much time to spare after he’s sworn in.
“Every mayor, every executive, needs a break,” de Blasio said. “Everybody needs a break. Every New Yorker needs a break.”