Setting A Trend: Ghana's First Female King

Photo Culled from the CNN website

"I realized that on this earth we all have a calling. We have to be ready to accept it…" These were the words of the new King of Otuam; a small fishing community in Ghana. Peggielene Bartels became the first female to receive the title of 'King' in the community. A former administrative assistant who worked in the Ghanaian embassy in the United States, it all seemed like a dream to her when she received the call that her uncle who was the previous king had passed away and she was now the new King of Otuam. The story has all the strappings of a fairytale; of an ordinary commoner rising to become royalty.

However, that is not the moral of this story. Women of all ages usually come in contact with certain stereotypes or mindsets that limit what they can achieve. They are told things like "A woman shouldn't do that", or "You should know your place, that is not for you." Peggielene has shown us that it is possible in the African society for a woman to reside in a position reserved for men.
Now some of you might wonder what is so significant about that, after all we have heard of women heading monarchies all over the world; the most popular being Queen Elizabeth II. However, take a moment to think about that. Elizabeth has been the ruler of Britain for over 60 years and she is referred to as Queen, not a King.

Society has deemed it customary to address male leaders as kings and their female counterparts as queens; a title that is also given to the wives of the reigning male monarchs. By creating a clear distinction between the sexes, and there is a certain inferiority associated with the women. Female rulers are not taken as seriously as male rulers as they are deemed to be not as logical, rational or forceful as their male counterparts. Of course, there are exceptions to this, namely Catherine the Great and Elizabeth I. However, the female ruler has to make extra efforts to prove herself when she inherits the throne unlike the male.

However, with Peggielene inheriting the Otuam throne, things are looking very hopeful. We see that titles are becoming things that are not gender related and a woman can be called by a name that is dominantly associated with the male of the species, and the address is done with respect and honor and not derogatorily, with whoever is addressing the woman doing so with the knowledge that she is worthy of such a title.
A time will come when as individuals, women will have a choice presented to them; a choice to break the ceilings in a male dominated environment; a choice to succeed in a field that few woman have succeeded at; a choice to prove themselves, and I hope they will remember the words of Peggielene that we all have callings and when the time is right, we have to be able to step up to the plate to accept it and whether it is in something that has always been done by women or that has never been done.

However, as I think of the Peggy story, a few thoughts are predominant in my mind. What is the possibility that in our monarchical societies, a woman would ascend the throne, not to talk of being referred to as the king of the area? Is it possible for us to have a female Alaafin of Oyo, Alake of Ake, Oba of Benin, etc.? What are your thoughts on the chance of that happening?
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