King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is going on my 2013 Best list.
A native Ghanan, Peggy was working at the Ghanan embassy in Washington D.C. when she got the call that her uncle, the king of their village, has dies and that she was chosen the next king. This was really unusual because women were not usually kings.
What is fascinating to me is that, because she lived in America, Peggy sees her home town through new eyes. Just thinking about the 7,000 people she will lead, she flashes on the children carrying buckets of dirty brown water home each day and realizes she has to get them clean water (a minimum standard for living in America). Stuck in traffic on the way to the village, Peggy watches young people peddling junk to make pennies a day and realizes that, as in America, the teenagers from her village should have a high school.
As someone straddling both worlds, Peggy clearly sees the good and bad in both America and Ghana. The book also becomes an open door, inviting us to learn more about Ghanian life (albeit from a king's perspective, which is not as removed from regular life as one might think). I like the way that tidbits of Ghanian history are slipped into the book for context without being lengthy or overwhelming, but giving a perfect perspective for understanding Peggy's situation.
Some of Peggy's realizations about needed change are very straight forward, some are more complex, but they all come from a place of sacrifice for the good of her people. She always knows she can never do this job by herself so she depends on Jesus, God, and her ancestor spirits because she blends belief in Christianity and ancestor worship. Peggy receives spirit guidance, which I tend to view as God speaking through the saints, but ... whatever. As the book continues, we are shown that, in giving, Peggy also receives. We see that Peggy's sacrifices lead to unforeseen growth in character and that the skills she learns to be an effective king may eventually influence those far beyond her village. This is a story not only of a fascinating situation but also of the way to make a healthy community.
And I've kind of fallen in love with her soul stool (something each king is given but can never sit upon). You'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about but it has a personality all its own. Peggy is always given encouragement for the difficult task because only God can make a king, as a friend tells her. This is a fascinating blend of Peggy using her innate talents, the skills that have been developed in her life thus far, and spiritual guidance.
It is really well written so you feel as if you can almost "hear" Peggy's voice. To say the least, it is fascinating and I am really fond of Peggy.
The key to the story, though, is King Peggy's servant heart.