News / Europe

Eastern Europe's First Black Mayor Tells Supporters Not to View Him as Next 'Obama'

Peter Bossman, center, a Ghana-born physician celebrates his electoral victory in Piran, Slovenia, late Sunday, 24 Oct. 2010
Peter Bossman, center, a Ghana-born physician celebrates his electoral victory in Piran, Slovenia, late Sunday, 24 Oct. 2010

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Dr. Peter Bossman, who was born in Ghana, is starting his work as mayor of Slovenia's coastal town of Piran. Bossman's election earned him the distinction of being Eastern Europe's first black mayor.  But he has urged supporters not to view him as the next Barack Obama, a reference to the United States' first black president.

Bossman, 54, has become a superstar in Slovenia.  His supporters are celebrating his election victory Sunday, when he was chosen mayor of Piran, a postcard mixed Slovenian town of 17,000 Slovenians, Italians, Croats, Bosnians and others around the tiny Gulf of Piran in the Adriatic Sea.

Bossman immigrated from Ghana to what is now Slovenia in the 1970s to study medicine.

He says he intended to return to Ghana, but changed his mind after marrying a fellow student of Croatian origin, and getting a first job as a medical doctor for tourists visiting Slovenia's seaside.

Media call Bossman the 'Slovenian Obama' as he is the first black person to be mayor in Eastern Europe. Yet, the Ghanaian-born leader urges Slovenians not to compare him with America's first elected black president.

The incoming mayor makes clear that he is different than President Barack Obama. He adds he usually tells reporters: "I am Peter Bossman and I am the mayor of Piran."

The black physician, a member of Slovenia's governing Social Democrats, won a run-off election in the town with just over 51 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating the center-right outgoing mayor, Dr. Tomaz Gantar.

Bossman's success is viewed by commentators as remarkable in Eastern Europe, where people from Africa and other non-European nations have complained about discrimination or mistreatment.

Even Slovenia's human rights record had been criticized after it erased over 25,000 people from official documents for failing to apply for Slovenian citizenship after it declared independence from Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Yet, the Alpine nation of two million people became the first former Yugoslav republic to join the European Union in 2004 and has since promised to re-instate those whose residency was erased.

About 12 percent of people living in Slovenia were born abroad, but only a fraction come from Africa. Most black people tend to be tourists. But Bossman, who also speaks English, tells international media his victory in mayoral elections shows that Slovenia is now mature enough to elect a nonwhite political representative.

"I think that people don't see me as a black man," he said. "They see me as a good man, as a doctor and the racial question really didn't came into play here."

Bossman awaits a busy period. He has promised voters to introduce electric cars in Piran and boost Internet shopping to overcome its few stores. He also wants to increase tourism revenues by trying to bring an airport and a golf-course to town.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid