"You may be the men and I the woman, but you really have to be ready for me," she said. "I am not going to take nonsense from anybody. You are also much older than I am, but you have given me the power to rule. And I will do the best I can for you, but don't think that you are putting me here for you to rule me. I will be ruling you. I am your king, and the king rules."
They nodded, smiling. Peggy couldn't tell whether they were taking her seriously.
The next topic was Peggy's enstoolment celebration, the Ghanaian version of a coronation. Tsiami said, "You will need to buy many crates of beer and Coke, Fanta, and other drinks for the party we are going to have here after the ceremony. Some whiskey, too, as well as fish, chicken, and rice to feed all the guests."
Peggy had to pay for the food and drinks? She hadn't expected this. "Are there no funds that can be used for the party?" she asked, turning to Isaiah the treasurer. If he was the treasurer, that must mean that money went through his hands, right? "Isaiah, is there no money at all?"
Isaiah shook his head. "Not a penny, I'm afraid," he said, smiling apologetically. Peggy had assumed there would be at least enough cedis in the treasury to pay for her food, the reception, and any other small costs that might arise. While she had stuffed a few $100 bills from her last paycheck into her bra for emergencies, she was now beginning to fear it wouldn't even last her these nine days in Otuam.
It was soon clear that the lack of money was the least of Otuam's worries; the elders and aunties spent the afternoon bringing Peggy up to speed on life in the village, and the picture they painted wasn't pretty. There wasn't much violent crime in Otuam—unless you counted rampant wife beating, which Peggy did—but there was poor medical care, terrible schooling, no trash pickup, and no running water. Peggy had been aware of all this before she accepted the kingship, but now, face-to-face with the harsh realities, she found herself coasting downward. She couldn't help wondering if she had made a terrible mistake.
When Peggy returned to Washington she found herself devoting much of her time to telephone calls with the elders. Things were not going well in Otuam: Peggy regularly made long-distance recommendations and rulings, but months would pass and tasks never seemed to be completed. When, for example, she'd ask the council if they had collected the property taxes fishermen were supposed to pay the king, she wouldn't get a straight answer. Worse, it was becoming clear to Peggy that the one who claimed to be her greatest fan—Kwame Lumpopo—was the most dishonest of all. From a number of sources, Peggy learned that when fees did get collected, at least part of the money tended to disappear down his trousers.
We Hear You!