New African King Is A Female Secretary From Washington, D.C.

  September 19, 2009 at 7:03 pm by

View the image at Washington Post

Nearly 15 months ago, Washington, D.C.-based secretary Peggielene Bartels received a phone call that would change her life forever. Early one morning, at 4:00 AM to be exact, a phone call came that woke Bartels from her sleep. The call came from Otuam, a seaside town in the African nation of Ghana. The caller addressed Bartels as “Nana”, which is a term Ghanians use to refer to people of high stature. Bartels, who is not a grandmother and does not have any children of her own, thought that the call was a joke, according to an article in the Washington Post.

The caller stated that the King of Otuam had recently passed away, and that the village elders had selected her as their new king. The King of Otuam was the uncle of Peggielene Bartels, and the village elders performed a traditional ritual to decide upon the heir to the throne. The ritual consisted of praying, then pouring schnapps on the ground. The elders waited for the steam to rise as they called out the names of 25 relatives. The steam would indicate the name of the relative who was destined to be king. The elders announced that Peggielene Bartels was to become the new King of Otuam.

When the caller broke the news, Bartels stated, “Oh please don’t play games with me”, and proceeded to tell the caller that since she was female, she would be more suited for the role of queen. The caller replied that the only position available was that of king, and said that they already had a queen. Bartels told the Washington Post that the caller said to her: “Things are changing. Women can now hold many more positions, even king. You have to accept it”.

After three months of stressful internal deliberations, Bartels decided that it was her destiny to accept the position. She told the Post, “Not everyone gets to become King. Perhaps it is my destiny”. She traveled to Otuam for her coronation. She was paraded through town and presented with a heavy gold crown and other royal regalia. In order to prepare for the role, Bartels was locked in a room with several female relatives who gave her a crash course in how to be royal. Among the lessons that the women taught the new king were, “don’t eat in public, don’t handle money, and don’t speak directly with villagers”.

King Peggielene Bartels did not move into the palace and assume full-time royal life after the coronation. She spent a few more days in Otuam and returned to her job in Washington. She assumes her royal duties from home for now, and travels to Otuam whenever she has vacation time. She has big plans for the village, including wiring schools for computers, improving and completing the water system (which isn’t fully-constructed), building a library, and giving women positions of power, including replacing some of the village elders with women.

The King will move to Otuam as soon as she retires from her job. She currently has about five more years before she is eligible to retire. For now, she handles village disputes over the telephone. One of the calls from the village elders that she received was about a man who had allegedly beat his wife. The King advised the elders that she would speak with the man, and that “If he does that again, we’ll throw him out of town”.

To read about, and to discuss King Peggielene Bartels and the Kingdom of Otuam, please visit this thread.

Filed under Other African Monarchies
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