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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 pround 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

Ashanit 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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