Remembering Nana Yaa Asantewaa, The Great Ghanaian Woman Who Fought Men With Guns

Yaa Asantewaa was a Ghanaian warrior queen who emerged to head an army against the invading British in the 1840s. She was a prosperous farmer and mother.

She was a thinker, a politician, a human rights activist, a queen, and a leader. Yaa Asantewaa rose to prominence as the leader of the Ashanti struggle against British colonization in defense of the Golden Stool.

The effigy of Nana Yaa Asantewaa at the Manhyia Palace Museum, Kumasi Ghana.

As the Queen Mother, Asantewaa was responsible for a variety of duties, including serving as the Gatekeeper of the Golden Stool. The Ashanti kingdom, cultural system, and power are all represented by the Golden Stool.

The Ashanti peoples began to protest against the British presence in their territory in 1896, as well as the British attempt to build the “Gold Coast” colony. In retaliation, the British imprisoned and exiled Asantehene Prempeh I, King of the Ashanti, as well as Asantewaa’s grandson Kofi Tene, a significant chieftain. In order to obtain the Golden Stool, the British relocated the king and other Ashanti chiefs to the Seychelles Islands.

While the community’s remaining elders argued how to effectively respond to the British threat, Asantewaa stood firm and rallied the men. Her dedication and leadership led to her appointment as Commander in Chief of the Ashanti army. The fifth and final Anglo-Ashanti war against the British, which began on March 28, 1900, became known as the Yaa Asantewaa War of Independence (or the War of the Golden Stool).

When British representative Sr. Frederick Mitchell Hodgson sat on the Golden Stool, the fight began. When Hodgson’s deed became known, Yaa Asantewaa led the uprising, which resulted in the deaths of 1,000 British and allied African soldiers, as well as 2,000 Ashanti. Both totals were larger than any previous wars between the Ashanti and the British combined.

She was apprehended and deported to the Seychelles. Yaa Asantewa died in exile on October 17, 1921. Yaa Asantewa’s War was the last major African war led by a woman. She is still regarded as one of the greatest African women in Africa. Her remains was later repatriated to Ghana, where she was properly buried.

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