Compton Councilman Bowers Returns From Africa: LA Sister City, Lusaka International Conference

Compton Councilman Jonathan Bowers, 3rd District, was honored to be invited and just returned as a special representative of the City of Los Angeles Sister City Program to attend the 1st World International Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Lusaka, Zambia is the capitol of Zambia, and the site of LA’s first recognized African sister city.

The honor was bestowed upon Jonathan Bowers for his earlier humanitarian work, before becoming a Compton City Councilman, which took him to missions to Haiti in the Caribbean from 2013 thru 2017 and to Zambia in 2019. As a member of the Los Angeles City Black Firefighters, Bowers was notably responsible for handling the logistics for the Lusaka Zambian Humanitarian Project to move 150,000 pounds of fire equipment and fire personnel by ship, taking two weeks, from Port Hueneme in California to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in Africa, and then by train to Lusaka, Zambia.

While in Zambia and in Haiti, the professional firefighters trained locals on the proper use of the equipment as well as carried out emergency requests for assistance by the host countries leading to a Letter of Commendation from the Zambian President.

Dr. Ernestine Roberts of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Lusaka Sister City Committee extended this year’s invitatione. The concept of the international sister city network was first advanced by President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) and the bond with Lusaka was  formally formed in 1967 with the organization of the LA Committee. In 1979, Thomas Bradley, the first black Mayor of Los Angeles, who served from 1973-1993, traveled to Lusaka as a highlight of the organization’s history.

The fundraising affair to finance the firefighter’s humanitarian trip was held in January 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills with the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, Her Excellency Esther Lungu, was in attendance along with recognizable politicians including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and LA City Councilman Herb Wesson.

This year’s international multicultural gathering in Capetown, South Africa included more than 400 assembled representatives from more than 20 African countries, the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean, America, and other countries. 

The historical purpose of the sister city affiliation is the promotion of commerce, culture, and business between the two cities. The conference’s agenda discussed shared interest in three main areas: Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Water and Energy Alternatives.

While in Africa, Councilman Bowers was a special guest at the home of the US Consul General in Cape Town for an invitation-only mixer with city leaders and officials from around the world. Bowers was also invited to speak on several panels including the Mayor’s Roundtable of the City of Cape Town. He was seen as an authority in the field, given his 30 years in public service. Serving in the capacity of EMT-1, Firefighter, Paramedic, Engineer, and Captain along with extensive hospital emergency room and trauma experience with the Los Angeles County and the City of Compton fire departments, Bowers brings a wealth of knowledge to any pane.

Councilman Bowers holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Fire Sciences Administration and has multiple levels of professional fire certification and fire service training credentials. His schooling aided his instruction in other countries. He is also personally proud of being awarded Paramedic of the Year at Martin Luther King Hospital in 1993-1994, receiving numerous commendations from multiple notable groups and politicians, and serving as past Executive Vice President of the LA Firefighters Stentorians, a black historical firefighters organization.

Councilman Bowers says he had the opportunity to travel to the poorest township in South Africa and their streets were paved and ten times cleaner than Compton. He indicated leaders from other countries possessed innovative ideas and were involved in future planning to make and keep their cities resilient, especially in the case of another pandemic. Bowers indicated Compton should be a leader and needs to rebuild internally and start planning for emergencies, the city’s future, and the LA 2028 Olympics.