There are some really sour folks in New Orleans and they are having a field day attacking Mayor LaToya Cantrell because she and two of her staffers are in in Ghana for the 2019 ESSENCE Full Circle Festival, where she will serve as a speaker on the ESSENCE Global Black Economic Forum.  During her visit, she will travel to several cities across Ghana, including Cape Coast where she will execute a formal Sister City agreement with Cape Coast Mayor Ernest Arthur.

She also has scheduled meetings with several African dignitaries, including the President and First Lady of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo and his wife Rebecca Akufo-Addo; Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah; and Mayor of Kumasi, Osei Assibey Antwi. While in the city of Kumasi, Mayor Cantrell will perform a community day of service, and visit a local hospital and nursing college.

For all of you who are in an awful panic about her absence from the Crescent City, kindly note that she returns to New Orleans on Jan. 4, at which time the natural order of the planet will be restored. Actually, no it won’t because the destination and reason for this trip are not at all important to those hell bent on finding fault with it.

Not agreeing with Mayor Cantrell is one thing. At The New Orleans Tribune, we don’t always agree with her. But finding fault with her travel schedule and blaming it for every thing that has gone awry in New Orleans is wrong. And the arguments against her trip to Ghana are ridiculous.

“Why is she going to Ghana? There is too much crime in New Orleans for her to take trips out of the parish let alone out of the country… and blah, blah, blah!”

Uh, last we checked she was the mayor of New Orleans, not the police superintendent. She’s not even a homicide or a narcotics detective. Hell, she isn’t even commissioned to be a school resource officer. So despite what the criticism suggests about the causal relationship between the Mayor’s presence in the city and crime statistics, crime does not decrease in New Orleans because she remains inside the (504) area code.

“Uh, Ghana…when there are still two bodies in the rubble of the Hard Rock Hotel…why?”

With all due respect to the victims and their families, we can assure you that the minute Mayor LaToya Cantrell heads inside of what remains of the partially demolished Hard Rock Hotel on a one-woman search and retrieval mission, we will let you know.

Really, after a while, all of the folk complaining about the mayor’s most recent jaunt on behalf of the city start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.


We suspect that these same irksome irritants would find a reason to complain no matter where Mayor Cantrell travelled and regardless of the reason. They were salty when she went to Cuba earlier this year. And in view of the prevailing pettiness, we bet some of them were mad because she showed up at the grand opening of the new Louis Armstrong International Airport. They were probably saying, “Why does she need to go out there to Jefferson Parish? Sure, the city of New Orleans owns the airport; but it is in Kenner. In fact, the airport is an entire mile closer to St. Charles Parish than it is to City Hall. Did they really need her all the way out there to cut a ribbon?”

Give us a break. Actually give the Mayor a break. This trip to Ghana is an official trip on behalf of the city of New Orleans. To be clear, the producers of the Essence Full Circle Festival are the same folk that produce the Essence Festival in New Orleans every summer.

Like it or not Essence Fest has become a part of our city—as much as Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. It attracts more than 500,000 visitors throughout its weekend-run. And in 2018, it had an economic impact of $280 million. It is a boon for the city in what is typically a slow summer for the tourism industry. And it is here to stay—at least for another five years. By the way, thanks for finalizing that deal with Essence, Madam Mayor.

So yes, if Essence is producing a festival in Ghana and invites the mayor of New Orleans to take part, she goes. If Essence is producing an event on the moon, the mayor of New Orleans goes. In fact the only way she doesn’t go to Ghana during the last week of 2019 for the Essence Full Circle Festival is if a category 5 hurricane is bearing down on the city…in December.

We have said it before, and we will say it again. Leaders of cities, states and countries travel to other cities and states and countries, from time to time, to represent the jurisdictions they lead, to conduct official business, for good will and to gather and share information.  That is a part of the gig no matter who is in charge. And we just cannot remember a time when such uproar was made over official travel.

We’re just glad the Saints beat the Carolina Panthers while she was gone, or y’all would be blaming her trip to Ghana for the loss. And that game, much like the Mayor, wasn’t even in New Orleans.

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