Pictured: Nana Amuah-Afenyi VI (King Peggy) and L-R: Tera Cole, Nana Amuah-Afenyi VI (King Peggy), and Natonia Johnson
I thank the Creator and the ancestors for what they have done in your life and in the lives of our people around the country. I thank all of those who have come before us, who make it possible for us to fight every day, to carry on, to believe that redemption is at hand and that a brighter future is ahead that will come through our continued work and struggle. I thank the Creator and the ancestors for assuring us that we are equal to the task.
I am so happy to be among all these powerful and very educated people in this room. My given name is Peggieline Bartels. Most people ask me, why don’t you have an African name? I am originally from Cape Coast, and during the slave trade era most of us were given English names and we never changed them. So I say that is my name given to me by my parents and, this ,my journey is very unique.
As many may know, in Africa women are not supposed to be kings; we crown them as queens. But four years ago, at 4 a.m. I got a call that changed my life.
My cousin just kept saying “Nana, Nana, Nana.” Then finally I said, “tell me exactly what you want. What money are you asking for now?” Thinking surely he or someone in the family needed money and that is why he was calling that early.
I was just about to hang up the phone and then my cousin said, “No, Nana, don’t hang up! Our uncle, the king has gone to a village and he is not coming back anytime soon.” This is the code in royal families to let you know that someone has passed on. After hearing this I then understood why my cousin was calling me Nana... Yet, I was still a bit reluctant. I said to myself is this guy kidding. A woman king?
A voice told me “hold on, there is something here that you have to listen to.” So I listened to him and he kept on saying Nana, you have been chosen to be a king. So I told him “Go and tell them to give me three days to think about it.” Because when you become a king or queen in African towns or villages, it is not like a silver platter thing like it is in Europe, where you don’t do have to do much other than to play the part. In Africa you are the one expected to better the lives of people in your town. And here I am a woman, a secretary, with little money, living in the United States with my own bills, which I can barely afford to pay sometimes. The first question that came to my mind is,
“Can I do this?”
Over the next three days, every time I was sitting I would hear voices; it was very strange to me. The voices would talk to me as I am talking to you all in this room “Nana it is your destiny. You have to go for it. It is not every day that a woman is going to be a king or someone is going to be a king.” But when I looked around to see who was speaking, no one was there. So I said, to myself, maybe I am just tired or getting sick; to be honest, it really started to scare me a bit. At this time I was driving a1992 Honda Accord. I typically always used the back roads when going to work and there was this one particular T-junction at this park and there was a little ravine. Anytime I get to that T- junction a voice would be in my car. It would say, “Nana, I am telling you go for it. It is your destiny. You have to help your people and you are not going to be alone in this journey. We are going to help you and people are going to help you”.
I would start looking around and as soon as I would make a left turn to go onto another street, the voice would stop. So it went on like this for three days. It was really amazing. I have never ever heard anything like this in my life and it is something I am really going to cherish because anytime I talk about this story the voice comes back to me. So I went to work and I said to myself, the third day I have to accept it. And then the voice came back once I was in the office. I said, “Listen, whoever you are, I don’t see you. You may be God. You may be my ancestors. You may be my mother. Leave me alone--I am going to accept it.”
And as soon as I said that I was very calm inside. I wasn’t depressed or worried like before. So I went to my boss and I said “Boss, I need to talk to you.”
He said, “What have you done now?” Are you arguing with somebody again?” Because most of the time in the embassy, if you step on my toe, I never let it go. I will argue with you for a year till I become satisfied and my boss was aware of that.
I said “No, Boss I am not. Your secretary here is going to be a king”. And then he looked at me as if I am sick. And he said, “A king, in Ghana?” I said, “Yes, this secretary is going to be a king!”
When I first arrived, I thought everything will be on a silver platter. I will have a beautiful palace and a beautiful car. I also thought that I would be given money to do my coronation, but I soon learned that was not the case.
Finally, I asked my elders, “Where is the money that you have collected from the fisherman for fishing on our beach and the money from the land we sold? Finally, the treasurer came and said, “I don’t know.”
There was no money in the coffers. I had to foot the bill for the entire coronation. This incident really troubled me and on my way back to the United States, I said to myself, “there is something wrong with this town.” I felt that there was a hidden secret in the town and that is why the voice was telling me to go and rescue them.
I went back to the village the following year in September and had a serious talk with the elders. Now traditionally most African women are afraid to speak seriously with men since women are not supposed to challenge men. You don’t speak back to a man. It was also an awkward situation because I, a younger woman, was coming to rule people who were between 80-90 years old. I knew there was going to be a battle, but I was determined to not only fight this battle but to win, as well.
The battle lasted from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m. the next day.
My focus of that meeting was to understand where the money was. So I asked them, “what happened to the money?” and “What are you people doing?” One elder said, “Well, Nana we don’t know anything about it.” The town doesn’t have a bank or anything.” So I told them, “Where I come from we have banks and we are going to open up a bank in this town.” He said, “No, no, no, you are not going to do that. You are not bringing that American system over here.” I looked at him and said, “You people chose me. Despite me being in America all this time, the ancestors and my God chose me over anybody else. So I am really going to make a difference in your lives.”
They said, “No it is not going to happen. You are a woman. Sit down and let us rule you.”
I finally defeated them by saying, “I am a woman. I have the strength of a male. I am here to help you. And if you give me the chance, as I have been given a chance by God and by my ancestors, I will help you. I am here for a reason. So you all sit-down and listen to me.” And they all just became silent, I am not sure what happened; they just shut up and sat down.
So I opened the bank and the people who have supported me have opened accounts and started putting the money in. Now, as I am speaking, we have at least $20,000 in the bank, which is not much here but in Ghana it is 200 million, which can do a lot for the town.
So this, my journey, is not really a small journey, but I am determined. I have to prove to the men. I don’t mean them any harm. I also want to prove to the men that a woman can do it and not to underestimate women. If a secretary with a very small salary can do this, anyone can help his or her own village. You may not be a king, you may not be a queen or a chief but you can become a leader in your community like all of you are doing.
So when the calling comes, be ready to accept it because people are there to help us. We have super beings around us that are helping us. I know this because of the libation ceremony that took place before I became king. There were 25 males, I was the only woman. When they poured the libation for each of them it sunk to the ground. But when it came to the last name on the list, which was mine, the libation simmered. When it simmered they looked at each other. I told them, “You put my name last thinking the first would be the next king, but God is telling you, you are wrong.”
And that is why I was chosen to be king. I am glad I am doing it. Being king has really transformed me. Every bit of energy that I have I channel to my village. I think about them. I may not be there physically but mentally I am there with them 24x7 and every time I think about them I think of what to do for them. Ancestors continue to guide me from the spiritual world. Sometimes it is a dream telling me what I need to do. Whenever I get these dreams and I just ponder and work on it, until I do what they have advised me to do. So I advise each and every one in this room that we all have people protecting us. Whether you believe it or not we are not alone on this earth. We are here for a purpose. We are all on a mission. So if you really believe in yourself and then you work hard and be very honest with yourself, your calling will come. So when it comes, don’t run away from it. Take it and help the people. So this is my journey. That’s why I am here.