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When he's at work, Nana Opoku Asamoah, 41, tends to his real estate and coin-operated laundry interests, negotiating in impeccable English.

But when the native of Ghana assumes his role as king of 20,000 Ashanti, he speaks only in his native Twi and avoids direct conversation with outsiders.

He was crowned over the weekend as surrogate king of the 10,000 Ashanti in the United States. In the large ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel, the king accepted gifts and greetings from chiefs and royalty from the Ashanti and other Ghanaian tribe, the Ewe and Akwapim.

Nana Asamoah, born into a family of prosperous cocoa farmers, became king in January by election of the Asanteman Association.

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