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Yaa Asantewaa: Mother Queen of the Ejisuhene

By Edited Apr 4, 2016 0 0

Akan country was known for its vast amount of gold. Because of their rich gold deposits they set up a series of states in the forest regions of southern Ghana. The Asante state dominated these and was the largest and most powerful. The Akan country attracted a lot of gold-seeking traders from Nigeria to Europe. There was so much gold here that the Europeans referred to this area as the Gold Coast. In the late 1600's one of the states known as Denkyira rose up against the Akan country and tried to take control of the gold trade. Many refugees scattered into the forest region, one of which was from the clan of Oyoko. Its member settled in the small town of Kumasi which is now the modern day capital of Asante. The chief of the Kumasi had a nephew who became King Osei Tutu. Legend has it that a fetish priest named Okomfo Anokye conjured up a golden stool that flew out of the sky in a thick cloud of white dust, and rested upon the knees of King Osei Tutu. This stool is so important to the people that it is said that it holds the souls of the Asante people past, present, and not yet born. It is even more important that the kings which leads to the story of Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of the Ejisuhene.

Yaa Asantewaa was born in 1863 at Ejisu near Kumasi in Asante. She was named Queen Mother of the Ejisuhene and Keeper of the Golden Stool by her brother Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpese who was ruler at the time. She was requarded as a wise and powerful advisor to the people. The Asante tribal families had ruled from 1701- 1896. Civil war was going on between 1883-1888 and after that time her brother died in 1894. As Queen Mother she named her grandson successor Ejisuhene. The British had been at war with the Asante's for a hundred years while trying to establish a West African colonial empire. In 1896 the Asantehene King Prempeh I along with the ruling Ejisuhene was exiled to the Seychelles Island because of their opposition to the ruling British. In March of 1990, British Lord Fredrick Hodgson called a meeting in Kumasi of the Asantehene local rulers informing them that the King would remain in exile and that the Golden Stool (Sika 'dwa) should be surrendered for he which to sit upon it. He did not realize the degree at which he insulted the Ashanti people. On March 25, 1990 he sent Captain C.H. Armitage to retrieve the Golden Stool however he found the village bare and the children claimed the parents where out hunting, so he beat the children to encourage the parents to come out of the bushes and when they did he beat them also. However, the Golden Stool remained protected. Three days later Yaa Asantewaa led the War of the Golden Stool with a troop of 5,000 to the Fort Kumasi where the British troops had been camping and subdued them their. The final battle was on September 30th, 1900 and it ended in a bloody defeat. Deportation order came down from the Colonial Office in London on the 17th of May in 1901 and by the 25th she and 14 of members of army were exiled.

On January 1st, 1902 the Asante Empire was made a protectorate of the British Crown. On October 17,1921 Yaa Astanewaa, Queen Mother of the Ejisuhene died. On December 27, 1924 Prempeh I and the others where allowed to return to their homeland, and on his arrival he had Yaa Astanewaa returned to with a proper burial. Her dream was realized on March 06,1957 when the Asante protectorate achieved independence as part of Ghana. This was the first African nation to achieve this feat. The Yaa Asantewaa Girls' Secondary School was set up in Kumasi in 160 in her honor and in 2000 a week long celebration was held in her name, as well as a museum set up in Kwaso in the Ejisu-Juaben District. The stool still holds its traditions and the actual stool has rarely been seen by few.

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