Nana Yaa Asantewa, a female warrior who led Asantes in a war against the British

She was a popular strong warrior, a queen mother and one of Africa`s great freedom fighters ever known.


History records it that Nana Yaa Asantewaa was born on 17th October 1840 and died on the same birth month, 17th October 19210. She was a popular strong warrior, a queen mother and one of Africa`s great freedom fighters ever known. She was apparently Ghana and Africa’s most noteworthy dauntless female warrior during pioneer times. Yaa Asantewa was the sovereign mother of Ejisu (Edweso) in the Ashanti Empire at present modern-day Ghana — by her sibling Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpese, the Ejisuhene—or ruler

In 1900, Nana Yaa Asantewaa led the Ashanti (Asante) rebellion which was recorded as the War of the Golden Stool against British masters when the British Empire after looting the Ashanti Kingdom and exiling the presiding King of Asante as of then, Prempeh I (I mean the first), dared to ask for their Golden Stool which symbolizes their soul as Nation and as an ethnic group. She is popularly referred to as “Africa`s Joan of Arc.” When men panic and flee from danger, Nana Yaa Asantewaa laughs and face it squarely!

Her 1900 war with the British imperialists represented a final Anglo-Asante war in Ghana after a series of wars between them. Yaa Asantewa and her forces battled heroically to reclaim their Kingdom however they were crushed by the British who brought in outside assistance of around 1,400 powers. Yaa Asantewa remains a celebrated and much-loved figure in Asante history and the history of Ghana in particular and the history of Africa as a whole for her role in confronting the colonialism of the British.

Yaa Asantewa queen mother of Edweso in her traditional dress

Before the Rebellion

During her sibling’s rule, Yaa Asantewaa saw the Asante Confederacy experience a progression of occasions that undermined its future, including common war from 1883 to 1888. At the point when her sibling kicked the bucket in 1894, Yaa Asantewaa utilized her privilege as Queen Mother to designate her own grandson as Ejisuhene.

At the point when the British expelled him in Seychelles in 1896, alongside the King of Asante Prempeh I and other members of the Asante government, Yaa Asantewaa got official of the Ejisu-Juaben District. After the expelling of Prempeh I, the British representative general of the Gold Coast, Frederick Hodgson, requested the Golden Stool, the image of the Asante country.

This solicitation prompted a mystery meeting of the rest of the individuals from the Asante government at Kumasi, to talk about how to make sure about the arrival of their lord. There was a contradiction among those present on the most proficient method to approach this. Yaa Asantewaa, who was available at this gathering, stood and tended to the individuals from the chamber with these now-renowned words:

“ Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it [was] in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see their king be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning.  Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: 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! We will fight till the last of us falls on the battlefields. ”

With this, she took on the authority of the Asante Uprising of 1900, picking up the help of a portion of the other Asante respectability.

The aftermath of the Rebellion

Starting in March 1900, the disobedience laid attack on the fortification at Kumasi where the British had looked for asylum. The post despite everything stands today as the Kumasi Fort and Military Museum. Following a while, the Gold Coast representative inevitably sent a power of 1,400 to suppress the insubordination.

Over the span of this, Queen Yaa Asantewaa and 15 of her nearest counsels were caught, and they also were sent into outcast to Seychelles. The rebellion represented the final war in the Anglo-Asante series of wars that lasted throughout the 19th century. On 1st January 1902, the British were at last ready to achieve what the Asante armed force had denied them for almost a century, and the Asante realm was made a protectorate of the British crown.

Yaa Asantewa was exiled to Seychelles for daring to defend her nation`s Golden Stool


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Yaa Asantewaa passed on in a state of banishment in Seychelles on October 17, 1921. Three years after her passing, on 27 December 1924, Prempeh I and the other residual individuals from the banished Asante court were permitted to come back to Asante.

Prempeh I ensured that the remaining parts of Yaa Asantewaa and the other ousted Asantes were returned for appropriate imperial internment. Yaa Asantewaa’s fantasy for an Asante liberated from British standard was acknowledged on 6 March 1957, when the Asante protectorate picked up autonomy as a component of Ghana, the main African country in Subsaharan Africa to accomplish this accomplishment.

Why Yaa Asantewa as a Woman led the Asantes in War?

This could be answered by looking at the social roles of Asante women and the role of women in Akan culture in general which is matriarchal. The confrontation of a woman, serving as political and military head of an empire, was foreign to British colonial troops in 19th century Africa. Yaa Asantewaa’s call upon the women of the Asante Empire is based upon the political obligations of the Akan women and their respective roles in legislative and judicial processes.

The hierarchy of male stools among the Akan people was complimented by female counterparts. Within the village, elders known as (mpanyimfo) heads of the matrilineage, constituted with the village council known as the ôdekuro. These women known as the mpanyinfo referred to aberewa or ôbaa panyin, to look after women’s affairs.

For every ôdekuro, an ôbaa panyin acted as the responsible party for the affairs of the women of the village and served as a member of the village council. The head of a division, the ôhene and the head of the autonomous political community, the ômanhene, had their female counterparts known as the ôhemma: a female ruler who sat on their councils.

The ôhemma and ôhene were all of the same mogya, blood or localized matrilineage. The occupant of the female stool in the Kumasi state, the Asantehemma, and therefore, the united Asante, since her male counterpart was ex officio of the Asanthene, was a member of the Ktôtôkô Council, the Executive Committee or Cabinet of the Asanteman Nhyiamu, General Assembly of Asante rulers. Female stool occupants participated in not only the judicial and legislative processes, but also in the making and unmaking of war, and the distribution of land.

Yaa Asantewa`s statue at Edweso

Yaa Asantewa as a Role Model for Women leadership

To highlight the importance of encouraging more female leaders in Ghanaian society, the Yaa Asantewaa Girls’ Secondary School was established at Kumasi in 1960 with funds from the Ghana Educational Trust.

In 2000, week-long centenary celebrations were held in Ghana to acknowledge Yaa Asantewaa’s accomplishments. As part of these celebrations, a museum was dedicated to her at Kwaso in the Ejisu-Juaben District on 3 August 2000.

Unfortunately, a fire there on 23 July 2004, destroyed several historical items, including her sandals and battle dress (batakarikese) seen in the photograph above. The current Queen-mother of Ejisu is Yaa Asantewaa II. A second Yaa Asantewaa festival was held 1–5 August 2006, in Ejisu,] The Yaa Asantewaa Centre in Maida Vale, west London, is an African-Caribbean arts and community center. It took its name in 1986.

A television documentary by Ivor Agyeman-Duah entitled Yaa Asantewaa – The Exile of King Prempeh and the Heroism of An African Queen was premiered in Ghana in 2001. A stage show was written by Margaret Busby, Yaa Asantewaa: Warrior Queen, featuring master drummer Kofi Ghanaba and with a pan-African cast, toured the UK and Ghana in 2001–02. A radio drama by the same author was also serialized 13–17 October 2003 on BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour.


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