A decade ago, I would represent Gov. Gray Davis at some Sacramento meetings with international dignitaries when the governor was out of town. In my role as vice chairman of the California State World Trade Commission, I once met with a young African prime minister at a business hotel near the majestically flowing Sacramento River. As per protocol, I asked what California could offer the prime minister’s country, Cape Verde, in terms of trade and commerce. His response that evening still takes me aback.
Were Capo Verdians interested in Silicon Valley technology? How about introductions to the entertainment industry, where his country’s Cesaria Evora sang and swayed her way to international success? Surely, increased educational opportunities and exchanges for their youth must be of interest? Prime Minister José Maria Neves looked me in the eye intently. His answer in Portuguese was unequivocal and needed no interpretation: