Meet the African Chief Who Leads a Double Life In Germany

Céphas Bansah works as a self-employed car mechanic in the German town of Ludwigshafen, but in his spare time he rules Hohoe, Ghana, which is home to roughly 200,000 residents. In 1970, Bansah’s grandfather — then King of Hohoe — sent him to Germany to train as a mechanic. When Bansah finished his studies, he decided to stay. He opened his shop, got married, and lived a quiet, normal life until 1987, when things changed forever. His grandfather had died. Bansah’s father and eldest brother, who would have been in line for the throne, were deemed unfit to rule because they were left-handed, which the people consider to be “unclean.” Bansah was tapped as his grandfather’s successor, and he accepted the position. However, he elected to rule from afar via phone and email. King Bansah returns to Ghana several times a year, often accompanied by his German wife, Gabriele, to devote his full attention to the issues of his people. The country has been a democracy since 1992, but its traditional kings remain important mediators and caretakers.