"And another thing," Auntie Esi said, "As an American, you probably brought deodorant. But here people cut a lemon in half and rub the two halves all over their bodies. They let the lemon juice sink in, and a while later they bathe with soap and water. This works better than deodorant." For lunch they had the staple food of Otuam fresh fish deep fried, on white rice, and covered with a spicy onion and tomato sauce. They would be eating it for lunch and dinner for Peggy's entire stay. In the US she often didn't think twice about the wide range of food she had and would have complained if she had to eat the same thing all day long. Africans could enjoy the same meal again and again and be grateful for it.
"By God's grace, the people here are never hungry," Auntie Esi explained as they dove into their meal. "They are very poor, and don't possess much, and they have to haul water. But there is plenty of food. Nana, you should see the dozens of fishing canoes that come in every morning, their nets heavy with fish. And the farms produce beautiful pineapples, papayas, coconuts, plantains, and cassavas."
That was indeed a blessing. While the other problems were vexing, hunger among Peggy's people would have devastated her. The people of Otuam would never be hungry, and living in Ghana they would certainly never be cold.
From King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman. Copyright 2012 by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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