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King Peggy

An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village

by Peggielene Bartels, Eleanor Herman

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels, Eleanor Herman X
King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels, Eleanor Herman
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2012, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2013, 368 pages

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Power Reviewer
Dorothy T.

Long live King Peggy
King Peggy (Nana Amuah-Afenyi VI) gave me insight into the ordinary lives of not so ordinary people in a place I can only read about. I can’t imagine a life with no running water or flush toilets--thankfully, the people of Otuan have cell phones with great coverage--much less know how to govern these people.

The descriptions of the area, from the rutted roads to the ravaged palace, and of the people, comical or larcenous, bring the story to life. I particularly enjoyed reading about the unusual traditions and rituals that are a part of life in Ghana, such as pouring liberal amounts of liquor (or in some cases Coke) to attain the blessings of the ancestors before events like the enstoolment of a new king. At the same time, business owners are careful to choose names like By the Grace of God Brake and Clutch Center, believing that a religious reference would bring them good luck.

I finished this book amazed at King Peggy and how much she accomplished in just the first two years of her reign in spite of many obstacles and with the help of some loyal subjects. It is no wonder that the people of Otuan have come to love their king.
Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

It's not easy being KING!
What does a naturalized American and secretary at the Ghanaian embassy in Washington do when she finds herself king of a small fishing village of 7,000 souls located on Ghana’s central coast? She accepts the challenge of a lifetime and begins her 2-year adventure in beautiful Otuam. King Peggy arrives in Otuam to find its royal castle askew and the former king’s body awaiting a royal funeral. The story of Otuam with its lack of running water, doctors, hospitals, high school or town funding – all unfolds in a way that is stranger than fiction.

In this African society where women are still expected to lower their eyes and obey when addressed by men, feisty King Peggy with her headstrong resolve and spunk determined that the crown revenues were for the benefit of all of her people, not just a few of her shifty town elders.

This is a warm and wonderful read – the world needs more King Peggys!
Kat F. (Palatine, IL)

Nothing short of inspirational
What a wonderful book! It shows what one small, insignificant person (as the world might consider them) can do to change the lives of so many people.

King Peggy is my new hero. Long live the King!
Penny N. (Saginaw, MI)

Inspirational and Thought provoking
With women like this, Africa CAN survive. I've traveled in and read about Africa for many years. I have never read or seen anything as positive as what is related in this wonderful book. Nor have I read an honest picture of the continent as a whole, written by an African King. The king, Peggielene Bartels is from Ghana and a naturalized American citizen who is a secretary at the Ghanian embassy. The men of her small town, Otuam, vote for her to be King. They quickly learn this is a mistake. Sadly because most of Africa suffers from the same past i.e. the slave trade and "ownership" by the countries of Europe making Peggy king breaks the mold. Through her, glimpse how Africa "works": Its religions, food, poverty, lack of clean water, politics, oppressive heat and much more. The book is written in an open and simple style. You feel you are part of the experience not being hit over the head. You cheer for Peggy and her faith in everyone.
Nancy A. (Woodstock, Georgia)

An Interesting Story
It was gratifying to see an ordinary American citizen rise to the occasion and fulfill the new role life thrust upon her. I commend her for sharing so much of herself, revealing her fear (after her husband left) that "slowly boxed her into a smaller and smaller life, until her life was so tiny she could barely turn around in it" and her heartbreaking losses and tears "shed after each miscarriage, at the irrevocable loss of a beating heart, a human soul". I think the book will appeal particularly to women of middle-age.

I would have appreciated an indication of how to pronounce some of the unfamiliar words - -especially Otuam and Tsiami, which appear on almost every page. I think the book could benefit from some editing, such as removing some of the many references to her being in awe of herself as king. Although king is the correct title for her position, her actual "job" and its duties were more what we would think of as the mayor of a town of about 7,000 (about the size of Wasilla, AK).
Donna N. (casa grande, AZ)

King Peggy
What a delightful story!! I enjoyed the "King" and what she brought to this village in Ghana. It had me smiling many times, and it would be a good book for book clubs allowing them to discuss strong women and look at this part of the world in a way we don't often have the privilege of encountering.
Power Reviewer
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)

A Journey Begins ......
I was a little surprised how much I enjoyed this book – I expected to like the story, but once I started reading I did not want to stop. In many ways this book reminded me of when I read “Unbowed” by Wangari Maathai, and I was in awe of one person taking baby steps which had giant step impact. After finishing this book the following words came to mind: charming, refreshing, dignity, delightful, informative, entertaining, readable, and upbeat. It was refreshing to read a story regarding Africa where the main theme was not about war, violence, extreme poverty, child soldiers, and “just falling apart”. Not that some of these conditions do not exist, but the emphasis is on the town and people of Otuam, Ghana and their everyday lives.

The book explains how the concept of “kings” and why it still exists in Ghana. I enjoyed learning the culture and customs of Ghana, especially of the Fante people which was integrated well into the storyline and not a distraction.

King Peggy is someone I would like to seat next to at a dinner party – her personality just shines through in this book. While reading this book I read about the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and this quote is so appropriate to King Peggy - “My sisters, my daughters, my friends — find your voice," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said after collecting her Nobel diploma and medal. Once again another African woman is making a positive change in Africa by confronting traditional protocols for the better of all – it seems that women are better at breaking the cycle of corruption. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories about grass-root movements and inspirational stories.
Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)

Inspiring Memoir
"King Peggy" is a riveting memoir from a woman who was able to make things work in a nearly impossible situation. The story was compelling. So many events happened that got in the way of her dreams and ambitions for her village that I was angry and frustrated for her and had to keep reading! It is an encouraging read for any woman. Several of my friends will be receiving copies as soon as it is published!

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