My husband Ed and I recently had a wonderful cultural experience as a result of my membership on the Board of Directors of WorldChicago. WorldChicago’s mission is to facilitate professional and personal interactions for international leaders during official visits to Chicago; to enhance respect and communication through international exchanges and alliances; and to promote the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and Cook County as important centers of business and culture.
I have served on the Board of this important organization for nearly ten years and have had many outstanding cultural experiences. I have always had an interest in people and cultures. While in college, I had roommates and friends from many parts of the world. Roommates included girls from Africa, India, Sweden and Japan. Friends included students from Abu Dhabi, Germany, Italy, Ethiopia, Haiti, South America, Jamaica and many other countries.
My family has traveled to many parts of the world observing and participating in other cultures. Our son Edward traveled extensively during his school years. He was an exchange student in England, France and Germany. We have hosted students from France, Germany, England and the Czech Republic for extended periods of time in our home. It has been a great way to learn about other cultures, while allowing individuals from those cultures to learn about how we live. These experiences have been invaluable.
Last week, Ed and I hosted three African Supreme Court Justices and one Supreme Court Chief Registrar for dinner at our Chicago home. What a treat this was. These gentlemen were from Botswana, Liberia and Nigeria. They were all fluent in English. In addition to these guests, we invited several American friends who are also legal professionals. The Americans were Judge Marcus Salone and his attorney wife Valee Salone and Judge Marjorie Laws and her attorney husband William Laws.
Lively repartee ensued during cocktails and continued over dinner. The evening felt like a gathering of “old friends.” These illustrious guests compared and contrasted many aspects of their work. We discussed the social climate, music and food from each of our countries.
One of the Justices was Muslim and eats only Halal meats. Though I was aware of the practice of eating Halal, I had never before been responsible for purchasing and preparing Halal meats. I researched the cooking process and asked several Muslim friends where I might find a butcher shop with a selection of Halal meats. I was directed to a small market in Bridgeview, IL called Rashid’s. I went to Rashid’s, not quite sure what to expect. I walked in the door and was warmly greeted. I explained that I would be serving Halal meats at a dinner party the next evening. Rashid was very accommodating, explaining the meats that he had available and the process for cooking them. He actually indicated that the meats could be cooked in any way (roasted, baked, fried, barbecued, etc.). He told me that Halal has to do with the humane method in which the animal is killed. I purchased chicken legs and baked them with lemon. They were delicious.
In addition to the Halal chicken, I served beef tenderloin and salmon, along with kale salad, collard greens, steamed carrots and mashed potatoes. For dessert we had apple pie, vanilla ice cream and coffee. One of the Justices commented that the food was delicious and very similar to what they might eat at home. This was music to my ears. They had truly enjoyed the meal.
After we finished eating, the Justices each toasted Ed and me. They thanked us for our hospitality and bestowed gifts from their countries upon us. It was heart-warming and lovely. This was a very special evening that will long live in our hearts. It’s always wonderful to make new friends and we definitely did that evening.
The Justices were as follows:
Mr. Isaac Lesetedi (Botswana)
Present Position: Justice of Appeal
Court of Appeals of Botswana
Previous Positions: Judge, High Court of Botswana, 2001 – 2012
Acting Judge of the High Court, 1995 – 1998
Private Attorney, 1985 – 2001
Government Attorney/State Counsel, 1983 – 1985
Education/Training: LL.B., University of Swaziland, 1983
As a Justice of Appeal in Botswana’s Court of Appeals, Justice Isaac Lesetedi hears and determines appeals from the High Court and the Industrial Court. He reads court files, conducts research, and writes legislative opinions. Justice Lesetedi would like to examine the U.S. trial process, court management systems, alternate dispute resolution and mediation, transparency and accountability methods, and judicial training opportunities.
Mr. Francis Korkpor (Liberia)
Present Position: Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Liberia
Previous Positions: Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Liberia
Education/Training: LL.B., Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, 1982
Certificate, Criminal Justice,Monrovia Liberia, North Caroline Justice Academy, U.S.A., 1978
B.A., Sociology, University of Liberia, 1976
Memberships: Liberia National Bar Association
Knights of Marshall (Catholic Fraternal Organization)
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor is the head of the Judicial Branch of the Government of the Republic of Liberia and the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Liberia. During his trip, Justice Korkpor wishes to gain an appreciation of the U.S. legal system with particular emphasis on the independence of the judiciary in a democracy. In addition, he looks forward to sharing country-related experiences with his co-participants regarding their justice systems as well as initiatives and strategies undertaken to reform their respective jurisdictions.
Mr. Mahmud Mohammad (Nigeria)
Present Position: Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja
Concurrent Position: Deputy Chair of National Judicial Council of Nigeria
Previous Positions: Justice of Appeal Court, 1992 – 2002
High Court Judge, Old Gongola State, 1985
Attorney General/Commissioner of Justice, Old Gongola State, 1981 – 1983
Education/Training: B.L., Nigeria Law School, Lagos, 1971
LL.B., Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria 1970
Memberships: Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Nigeria Bar Association
Council of Legal Education
Body of Benchers
Publications: Administration and Organization of Courts, 1992
Contempt of Court, 1991
The Role of Military Tribunals in the Administration of Justice in Nigeria, 1989
Justice Mahmud Mohammed is a Justice in Nigeria’s Supreme Court. He deputizes for Chief Justice Mariam Mukhtar whenever she is away and adjudicates cases on a daily basis. He is interested in learning about strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption.
Mr. Sunday Olorundahunsi (Nigeria)
Present Position: Chief Registrar, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja
Previous Positions: Deputy Chief Registrar, Supreme Court of Nigeria, 2008 – 2010
Chief Magistrate Administrator, Ore District, Ondo State, 2004 – 2007
Education/Training: LL.M., Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, 2001
LL.B., University of Benin, Benin-City, 1994
Memberships: Nigeria Bar Association
Publications: The Role of the United Nations in the Settlement of International Disputes, 2001
Mr. Sunday Olorundahunsi serves as Chief Registrar in Nigeria’s Supreme Court. In this role, he oversees the general administration of the Court, working to reform the judiciary, promote the rule of law and fight corruption. He wishes to examine the advancement of fair, transparent, accessible and independent judiciaries around the world.