An African Fairytale: The story of the first woman to be King of Otuam, King Peggy

King Peggy

“Some people have their blessings early in life, and others get them later. Mine came later, I was 55 when I became king. Perhaps your greatest blessings too will come later. Sometimes strange twists of fate give you your heart’s desire long after you have given up hope. Much to my sorrow, I was never able to have my own children. Now I have 7000 of them” ~ King Peggy, The Female King of Otuam in Ghana

In 2008 Peggielene Bartels was a secretary working in Ghana’s Embassy in Washington D.C. when she was informed that she was to be crowned King of Otuam, a small fishing village in Ghana.

“In Otuam, kings are elected by a council of town elders, and Bartels’s sex proved to be the first barrier. Although “king” is a gender-neutral title in Ghana, there had been only two female kings before her in the country’s entire history. Otuam needed a leader, and the elders questioned a woman’s abilities to tackle the village’s mounting problems. There was also the cultural divide. At the time of her selection, Bartels had resided in the U.S. for nearly 30 years; she hadn’t lived in Ghana since she was a teen, and the elders worried about her distance from the daily ins and outs of village life.

Bartels had concerns of her own. She had a full-time job as a secretary at the Ghanaian embassy—one she knew she’d have to keep for financial purposes (being king of Otuam doesn’t command a salary). More importantly, she knew that ruling a village from across the ocean would be difficult. It took meditation and prayer and even a consult with her boss to convince Bartels to accept her fairy tale destiny.”

Read King Peggy’s Full Story Here

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