To her friends and neighbours in Brampton, Margaret Adu is an ordinary citizen, a hard-working and loving mother.
But to the people in Adanse-Praso in Ghana, the Brampton woman is the anointed Queen Nana Serwaaprah, in charge of the well-being of the 2,000 tribesmen in the remote rural community that has no running water or electricity.
It is stressful and costly to be a tribal queen, especially when you have to govern a village in East Africa 8,707 kilometres away, from your comfortable suburban home in Canada.
The 18-hour flight to Ghana for the unpaid job can cost $2,000 — paid out of pocket and taken out of vacation time at work.
“It is a lot of responsibility and I’m a working mother,” said Adu, 44, a chef with Corrections Canada. “I don’t sleep — always thinking what I can do to help these kids in the village. They have nothing and it’s hard.”
Adu is among an estimated 20 tribal queens and chiefs from Ghana who have made Greater Toronto home, but travel back and forth regularly to deal with village matters, said Kwasi Akuamoah-Boateng, an organizer of the 20,000-strong community in Greater Toronto.
“A queen is an adviser to the chief and the chief is the head of the village,” explained Akuamoah-Boateng, also known as Nana Doggo.
“The system has been in place since the Portuguese came in 1471. The queen and the chief are treated like royalty. Everyone looks up to them.”
Adu was tabbed to be queen two years ago when she returned home for the funeral of her maternal grandmother, her predecessor. The majestic titles of queens and chiefs are only passed down on the female side of the family.
“I said no to them,” recalled Adu, who grew up in nearby Kumasi and was sponsored by an aunt to come to Canada in 1983. “We have a school, but there’s no books and stationery. What am I going to do? They have all these needs and I’m still paying my mortgage.”
But at the funeral, the title was forced upon her by her uncle. Still grieving, and wearing black attire, she was carried by seven men in a parade around town as the village’s new queen.
“I had no choice but accepted it,” said Adu, who spent six weeks there to learn about the village and will be back again for four weeks in November.
Other than the compound they inherit from their predecessors where they stay during their tenures, chiefs and queens aren’t paid.
- Labrador retriever fetches top U.S. dog breed honor for record 28th year7 Pictures
- Oscars 2019: Red carpet looks and full list of winners36 Pictures