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 house.
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 out, he has mentioned, for his roots on a “spiritual journey.”
For a lot of Black Individuals, a go to to Ghana — a country through whose ports tens of millions 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 forged 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 house with the mayoralty. And if I do 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, to date, 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 tip 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 mentioned, the “tabloids.”
“Individuals who criticize this, they only didn’t get it,” Mr. Adams mentioned. “They simply didn’t get what my campaign represented to so many individuals on this metropolis and on this nation.”
His staff 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 important implications for Mr. Adams’s agenda and has change into more and more contentious.
“The mayor-elect labored frequently all through his journey, repeatedly speaking with key advisers in regards to the Omicron risk and different urgent points, whereas getting ready his new administration and planning for quite a few main bulletins on his return,” mentioned 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 vital consequential jobs within the nation, and a few questioned the timing.
“It is vitally uncommon,” mentioned Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mr. de Blasio and a civil rights lawyer, who ran towards Mr. Adams within the June mayoral main. “What I may say is that it surprises me that this was a visit that would 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 — nevertheless it 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 overview of social media postings present that he spent important time with the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Basis, or HACSA, a corporation 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 mentioned, requested how Mr. Adams was linked 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 attainable cooperation in schooling, tradition and heritage with the Metropolis of New York, from Heritage to the UNESCO’s program on cities,” Mr. Diallo mentioned in an electronic mail, relayed via a spokeswoman.
A information launch from HACSA additionally mentioned Mr. Adams pledged his assist for an initiative designed to attach “diaspora youth” with Africa.
Mr. Thies mentioned Mr. Adams paid for the journey himself, however mentioned that as a matter of coverage they’d not present receipts. Gabriella Lourie, a consultant for the group, mentioned HACSA didn’t fund the journey.
Mr. Adams visited a variety of web sites of great historic, financial and cultural significance to Ghana, and was joined on the journey by his associate, Tracey Collins. He frolicked on the house of the civil rights chief and activist W.E.B. Du Bois and the encircling advanced, the place Mr. Thies mentioned 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 mentioned.
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 observe was undertaken as a result of his ancestors have been compelled in a foreign country towards their will, in line with one of many elders concerned.
“He isn’t the primary one that has been cleansed and who has been renamed,” mentioned 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 mentioned 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 mentioned.
Mr. Adams was not made out there for an interview to debate these takeaways and different facets of his journey.
HACSA, nonetheless, supplied a gradual stream of updates on social media. One Instagram image confirmed him standing close to a canon at Cape Coast, carrying sun shades and gazing on the sea with a somber expression.
One other picture confirmed him carrying 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 location with Nkrumah’s daughter, Samia.
“I feel it’s good that our mayor is visiting Africa,” mentioned 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 a giant 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 have been awaiting his go to as they did Mr. Obama’s, he laughed.
“It’s just a little bit unfair, Obama was the president, Adams is but to be mayor; so surely there’s a distinction in degree of identify recognition,” he mentioned. However, he added, “Everyone 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 kind of journey.”
The New York Put up first reported on the Hanukkah go to. Mr. Adams was linked to the occasion by Ms. Svanikier’s husband, Thomas Svanikier, Chabad officers mentioned.
Sporting what seemed to be a lightweight 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 line 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 mentioned, talking on a stage bathed in purple mild. “I’m joyful 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 a detailed.
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.