Yaa Asantewa
(d. 1921)
The Asante Wars
(1805-1900)

The British found few people as difficult to subdue as the Asante of Ghana in their quest to build their West African colonial empire. The Asante Wars against the British, which began in 1805, lasted a hundred years. Although outmatched by superior weaponry, the Asante kept the British army at bay for a short final period of independence.

When all seemed lost, their power broken, their king (Prempeh I) exiled, Yaa Asantewa, the Queen Mother of Ejisu, rallied the Asante troops into war.

After being told by Sir Frederick Hodgson that King Prempeh I would not be returned, and further having insult added to injury by demanding that the people surrender the Golden Stool, the men went home to prepare for war.

In the evening, the chiefs held a secret meeting at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa, the Queen Mother of Ejisu, was at the meeting. The chiefs were discussing how they could make war on the white men and force them to bring back the Asantehene. Yaa Asantewa saw that some of the chiefs were afraid.

Then, suddenly, Yaa Asantewa got up and spoke: "...I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our King. If it were in the brave days of old... chiefs would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared to speak to the chiefs of the Asante in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning. Is it true that the bravery of the Asante is no more? I cannot believe it... if you the men of Asante 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 war that follows bears her name—the Yaa Asantewa War. The final battle began on September 30, 1900 and ended in the bloody defeat and rout of the Asante. Yaa Asantewa was the last to be captured and subsequently exiled to the Seychelles, where she died around 1921.

With the end of these wars, the British gained control of the hinterland of Ghana.
back to top

Books

The Asante Kingdom, Carol Thompson. Franklin Watts, Incorporated, 1999.
Buy it in school & library binding: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

The Fall of the Asante Empire: The Hundred-Year War for Africa's Gold Coast, Robert B. Edgerton. Free Press, 1995.
Buy it in school & library binding: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Search for 'Yaa Asantewa' on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
back to top

Links

Visit Art.com