Urbana will be sister city

By K. Lamorris Waller

After much consideration, Urbana City Council members passed a motion that begins the application process of becoming sister cities with Zomba, a city in Malawi, Africa. Alderman Dennis Roberts, Ward 5, is spearheading the process because he has the most contacts with the Zomba Municipal Assembly and several of Zomba’s leaders. Roberts said the entire project is a glass-half-full scenario and said Zomba leaders have also expressed a mutual desire to establish a city relationship with Urbana as well.

Urbana and Zomba will be officially connected after the application process goes through Sister Cities International. Before furthering progress, Council members asked to see a plan of action from both Zomba and Urbana’s communities. Lynne Barnes, Ward 7, expressed concern about the level of dedication the two cities will have.

“If we are going to do this, then we really need to invest in this,” she said. “We shouldn’t allow this project to fade out and waste staff time because of lack of interest.”

Danielle Chynoweth, Ward 2, said she agrees the cities don’t have direction as to what type of relationship they will have.

“We have to make sure that we do not infringe on their resources,” she said. “But we also need to make sure they don’t take advantage of us either.”

However, Roberts said the new program will cost next to nothing in city finances.

“This is going to be very exciting,” he said. “This relationship will be an exchange of art, letters and culture between our two worlds, and that costs us nothing.”