National Press Club

Eleanor Herman debuts her biography of 'King Peggy' at the National Press Club

February 23, 2012 | By Jan King |

Joe Motheral, chairman of the NPC Book & Author Committee, King Peggy of Ghana and Eleanor Herman

Joe Motheral, chairman of the NPC Book & Author Committee, King Peggy of Ghana and Eleanor Herman

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

The National Press Club experienced a unique treat on Feb. 22nd, with the world debut of best-selling author, Eleanor Herman's King Peggy at a NPC Book Rap and a fascinating talk given by the King, herself.

Peggielene Bartels, the Ghanian Embassy secretary who was enstooled in 2008 as "King Peggy" of Otuam, Ghana, was impressively drummed into the ballroom accompanied by 10 African kings.

Herman told the audience how she fortuitously met Bartels at a Ghanian Embassy event. Herman noticed that Bartels was the only person not eating or drinking and started up a conversation with "the most interesting person" there. Bartels explained that her uncle had passed away six months previously, and she had been chosen as his successor and as a King, she wasn't allowed to eat or drink in public.

That conversation began their friendship and six months later Herman accompanied King Peggy to Otuam, Ghana, located on the west coast of Africa, for a month to write her story, which first appeared in the Washington Post Magazine.

King Peggy talked about her life as a child in Ghana with a slide show of photographs from her past and present. As a young girl, Peggy, very much influenced by the strength of her mother, left Africa first for London and later in 1979 the United States. She went to the Ghanian Embassy to visit a friend of her father's and in the mid 1980's became a receptionist and later secretary at the embassy.

In August 2008, At 4 a.m., Peggy got a call from Otuam advising her that her 92 year-old uncle Joseph who was the King had died and she had been chosen from a list of 25 names to be the new King. She was the only female on the list. The selection was made in a ceremony in which they call on the ancestors for guidance, pour schnapps on the ground and wait for steam to arise when the chosen name is spoken. The elders required this ritual to be performed three times before accepting the selection.

King Peggy talked about the progress that had been made in getting funds for new bore holes to bring free water, improvements to the palace, and new efforts to bring medical care to the people of Otuam. She has been diligent and determined to eliminate local corruption and bring better living conditions to the small fishing village of 7,000. She has been collecting fishing and line fees and has been able to put $20,000 in the bank in Otuam as a start for future projects.

The Shiloh Baptist Church of Landover, Md., has given her a Covenant and has been instrumental in helping her to raise money for her people.

King Peggy's future plans for Otuam include building a secondary school for those above the 9th grade, having better medical care for all the people, getting an ambulance and more books for the children.

She left the audience with the sage advice of a King: "to accept your calling no matter when it comes to you in your life."

Book & Author Chairman Joe Motheral gave the initial welcoming comments followed by Vice Chairman, Heather Forsgren Weaver's introduction of Eleanor Herman, who also is a member of the Book & Author Committee.