March 28, 2014

On this day March 28th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

March 28, 1900 British ask for Ashanti Golden Stool

One inspiration of liberation can be seen in Queen Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti. Ironically enough the Ashanti are included among those African societies who participated in the slave trade. Though they did not prosper as greatly as groups like the Dahomey, they did manage to keep their power due to the traffic in human bodies. With the close of the slave trade the Ashanti, like so many other African societies who had participated in the trade,found themselves at a disadvantage. Many had invested themselves so fully in the business of slaving that with its end they were left with no other form of export.

What was worse, slave trading had caused such a drain on resources, basic demands such as agriculture and cloth manufacturing had been neglected or completely forgotten altogether. Severely weakened, one by one they found themselves the new targets of their old European allies. Close to the end of the 19th century, the British attempted to colonize the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana. This region was inhabited by the proud warrior people known as the Ashanti. The British began by exiling the Ashanti's King Premph in 1896. When this did not succeed in breaking the peoples' spirit they demanded the supreme symbol of the Ashanti people: the Golden Stool. On March 28, 1900, the British Governor called a meeting of all the kings in and around the Ashanti city of Kumasi and ordered them to surrender the Golden Stool.

Deeply insulted the Ashanti showed no outward reaction. Silently, they left the meeting and went home to prepare for war. Nana (Queen-Mother) Yaa Asantewa became the motivating force behind the Ashanti. When she saw that some of the chiefs were afraid to make war against the British she stood and made a stirring and stinging speech. She is quoted as stating, "Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more?...if you men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields." The speech so moved the chiefs that at once they swore the Great Oath of Ashanti to fight the British until the Asantehene King Premph was set free from his exile. Yaa Asantewa moved quickly, cutting telegraph wires and blocking routes to and from Kumasi where the British had a fort. For several months the Queen Mother led the Ashanti in battle, keeping the British pinned down. After sending 1400 soldiers to put down the rebellion, the British captured Yaa Asantew and other Ashanti leaders; all were exiled.

Pictured is an artist's recreation of Yaa Asantewa, who died in 1923 far from her homeland, and an actual photograph of the legendary Golden Stool. Her bravery and name is still remembered by those who refer to one of the last great battles for Ashanti independence as, Nana Yaa Asantewa's War.

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