Asante-European Wars

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Asante-European Wars
Part of Black Chattelization Wars
Asantiwarriors.jpg
Asante warriors, about 1960
Date 1824 - 1902
Location Asanteland, West Afrika
Result Partial european victory, Asanteland becomes a territory of the british empire. The Golden Stool remained hidden from the British
Belligerents
 Asante Empire  british Empire
Commanders and leaders
Yaa Asantewaa,
Nana Kofi Kakari,
Antwi Panin,
Nana Boaten,
Osei Tutu Kwame Asibe Bonsu
Sir Garnet Woseley,
Frederick Mitchell Hodgson,
Charles McCarthy

The Asante-European wars are a series of wars that were instigated by the British and fought for control over the land and resources of present day Ghana between the early 1800's and early 1900's.

Early Hostilities

The wars began in the late 1700's when the Asante defeated the Fanti peoples in the Asante-Fanti Wars. After the end of hostilities between the Fanti and Asante, the Asante were granted the "papers" to the cape coast castle. After which, the Asante nation controlled from the middle of Ghana to the sea. Because the British has some control over the coastal areas, and some influence over the coastal kings, the Asantehene and the British Governor often worked together to solve political issues. There was a point that they created a treaty that stated "Should any coastal state act in a way st to cause annoyance in the Asante Nation, or to show disrespect toward the Asantehene, the Governor would reprimand the state. One of these times came after one of the coastal states, the Fanti began to act as if they weren't under a part of the Asanti nation anymore. The Governor failed to reprimand the Fanti, and from then on the White man was known to not keep promises. After some years there was no word from the British Governor so the Asantehene disregarded the treaty, and advised his people to stop trading with the British. In the following years, the British began to empower the coastal states, using divide and conquer tactics against the Afrikans of the area. some of the divide and conquer tactics were

  • The British Governor began to influence the Fanti and other peoples to hoot at Asante messengers, and chase them out of coastal lands
  • The British began training Ga militias and equipping them with weapons to fight the Asanti
  • Their influence was causing coastal nations to break alliances with the Asanti
  • The British eventually publicly renounced their policy of 'non interference' in order to crush the Asanti power in the region.

Opening Shots

After the Asanti realized the British could not be trusted, they wanted nothing to do with them. They cut all ties, and began to deal with only other Afrikans. In 1822 a fight broke out between a British Policeman and and Asante Trader. The British police man uttered "abusive words" and the trader told the Asantihene. Messengers were sent to capture the policeman and behead him for his transgression against the Asanti Nation. Because the Fanti, and other coastal states harbored resentment to the Asanti nation still, they sided with the British on this issue, and the situation descended into war with the Asanti nation on one side, and the british empire and coastal states on the other.

Second Asante-British and Allied Forces War

Main article: Battle of Nsamanko
Fanti houses surrounding cape coast castle
Notice the Cape Coast cannons facing inner Afrika, rather than the Atlantic ocean


After the British Policeman was beheaded, the Governor, Sir Charles McCarthy rushed troops to Asantiland to capture the messengers. They could not find them, so they returned to Cape Coast. The Governor then called a Ga militia force from Accra numbering 1600 men to join his soldiers numbering 500 men at Caps Coast. All these british soldiers met the Asante army. There was fierce fighting, but the governor's army ran out of firepower early. The Governor was badly wounded, and killed himself in order to avoid capture and decapitation. Although he committed suicide, his body was captured, and the head was sent to the Asantihene. The victory would not be celebrated for long, as the Asantehene, Nana Osei Tutu Kwame Asibe Bonsu died on the same day that the governor was decapitated. [1]

Third Asante-British and Allied Forces War

After the death of Nana Osei Tutu Kwame Asibe Bonsu, his brother Osei Yaa Okoto came to power. He noticed that the british were making the Afrikans in the southern part of the country become confident, and begin to send threats to Kumasi hinting they would soon break away from the kingdom. Therefore he decided to march to the coast to see if the threats were true. When he got there, he saw that there was no rebellion, and so he called to his troops to stay calm. In order to make sure that everything was in order, he decided to stay there for 7 months. For all the months, no one acted out, and thus the king realized there was going to be no succession. With all these troops, it was decided that they would march east to Ga territory and punish them for breaking the old alliance with the Asante on account of the british. When the rest of the coastal states (Fanti, Denkyra, Akyem, Akwapim, and Akwamu) heard of the Asantehene's intentions they gathered courage, and rushed to Galand to defend the Ga's. The Coastal states, plus some british West Afrikan soldiers outnumbered the Asante Forces. A great battle was fought at Dodowa and the Asante forces were routed by their massive opponents, and they almost lost their greatest treasure the Golden Stool which was carried into the battlefield. The Kontanasehene at the time, Nana Antwi Panin and Dwabenhene, Nana Boaten courageously rushed back to the site of battle and reclaimed it. Had they not returned to the battle, it would have been taken away by the british or the Coastal States.

Fourth Asante-British and Allied Forces War

The Fourth war began because of many aggravations suffered by the Asante on account of the British, but mainly because in 1862 an old Asante man named, Kwasi Gyani broke the law, and rather that facing trial in Kumasi, he ran to Cape Coast to seek protection from the British governor. The British, under an earlier treaty were supposed to give any law breakers to the Asantehene, but the govenor refused out of fear that the man would be put to death. The Asante protested, to no avail, and after the protests, they sent troop to Cape Coast to sort everything out. After heavy fighting, the allied forces' encampment was destroyed and the Asante were victorious. After the destruction of the camp, the surviving allied forces retreated and regrouped at Bokikuma they were met by more British troops but after that second defeat at the hands of the Asante people, the governor called them back to the castle. There were no more wars during the Asantehene's (Nana Kwaku Dua I) reign.

Fifth Asante-British and Allied Forces War

This war commenced because the New Asantehene (Kofi Kakari) that was enstooled after Nana Kwaku Dua I decided to devote his reign to war against the enemies of the Asante. After the Krepi war, Nana Kofi Kakari decided to subdue the coastal states once and for all. He therefore took arms for his expedition in December, 1872. His forces attacked the forces of Assin in February, 1873 at Assin Nyakomase. The Assin forces were no match for the Asanti warriors. They retreated to Fante Nyankomase where they combined forces with the other coastal states, and were still defeated. After the second defeat, they retreated to Jukwa for a final stand and were finally defeated. This defeat was a big blow to the British because apart from diminishing the confidence the coastal states had in the government, constant raids by the Asante were retarding British development in trade and administration.

Sixth Asante-British and Allied Forces War

Main article: Serengeti War

After the defeat in the previous war, the British government decided to pacify the Asante people once and for all. So they sent for a new British general named sir Garnet Wolseley. Immediately upon arriving in the Gold Coast Woseleley called for soldiers from Nigeria, Jamaica, Sierra Leonand Gambia. He wasn't happy with the number of soldiers who came, so he sent for some more soldiers from Britain. When Woseleley amassed these troops, it's estimated that he had around 4,000 men, and he still didn't think that was enough, so he sent for more from Britain. Britain then send three battalions of men. To rebuild the confidence of the Fanti people Woseleley sent the Fanti men to attack the Asante forces occupying the town of Elmina. The Fanti made a surprise attack there and defeated the Asante. Eventually the Asante soldiers escaped and returned to Kumasi. It's thought that from the fighting, and smallpox, they lost many thousand of people. While the Asante were discussing the losses incurred on them back at Elmina, Woseley was advancing on Kumasi. Because they were still weakened from the last battle, the Asantehene decided to try to make peace. For peace, Wosleley demanded the freedom of all European troops, all Coastal Afrikan troops and 50,000 ounces of gold, the Asantehemaa, one royal to the Golden Stool and four other royals from the Asante states to be sent to him as hostages. Kofi Kakari found these demands to be too great and prepared for war. A fierce battle was fought all the way up into the outskirts of Kumasi, but Wolseley and his men, using superior weapons were able to fight their way through to Kumasi. When they reached the town center, they found that the Asantehene and the people of Kumasi had abandoned their city. Enraged, he sent his troops to loot the city, and then set it on fire. The Asantehene sent his men to sign the Treaty of Fomena on Febuary 2nd, 1874 at Fomena. Nana Kofi Kakari was deposed seven months later on the charge of misuse of stool property.

Seventh Asante-British and Allied Forces War

Main article: Yaa Asantewaa War

Near the end of the 19th century, the British exiled King Prempeh from the hinterlands of the gold coast (present day Ghana), in an attempt to take over the entire country. By 1900, still not gaining control, the British sent a governor to the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Asante, to demand the Golden Stool, the Ark of the covenant of the Asante people. The Golden Stool was the supreme symbol of the sovereignty and the independence of the Asante, a fierce and warlike people who inhabit dense rain forests of what is now the Central portion of Ghana. The Governor in no way understood the sacred significance of the Stool, which according to tradition, contained the soul of the Asante. Yaa Asantewaa was present at the meeting with the governor and chiefs. When the meeting ended, and she was alone with the Asante Chiefs, she said,

"Now I have seen that some of you fear to fight for our King. If it were in the brave days of old, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anoyke and Opulu Ware, Asante Chiefs would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared speak to Asante Chiefs in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning. If you men will not go forward, then we the women will. I will call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men until the last of us falls in the battlefields."

Yaa Asantewaa's speech stirred up the men, and the Asantes, led by Yaa Asantewaa, fought very bravely. The British sent 1400 soldiers with guns to Kumasi, capturing Yaa Asantewaa and other leaders and sent them into exile. The war with the British started in 1805 and ended some 100 years later. Yaa Asantewaa's War was the last major war led by an African woman in the era of colonialism. [2]

Outcomes

The British fort in Kumasi still stands today as a Military Museum. The Yaa Asantewaa War represented the final war in the Asante-European Wars that lasted throughout the 19th Century. On January 1, 1902, the British were finally able to accomplish what the Asante army had denied them for almost a century, and the Asante empire was made a protectorate of the British crown. Yaa Asantewaa died in exile on October 17, 1921. Three years after her death, on December 27, 1924, Prempeh I and the other remaining members of the exiled Asante court were allowed to return to Asante. Prempeh I made sure that the remains of Yaa Asantewaa and the other exiled Asantes were returned for a proper royal burial. Yaa Asantewaa's dream for an Asante free of British rule was realized on March 6, 1957, when the Asante protectorate gained independence as part of Ghana, the first Afrikan nation to achieve this feat.

Nana Prempeh I, Ohemmaa Yaa Akyaa,Ohemmaa Yaa Asantewaa and some of the deported people at the Seychelles
Europeans in the Kumasi Fort during the Yaa Asantewaa War
Kumase Fort-1990


Notes

  1. Kwado 1990
  2. Van Sertima, Ivan; John Henrik Clarke, others (April 1984). Black Women in Antiquity. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0-87855-982-5. 

References

Kwado, Osei (1985). An Outline of Asante History Part 1. Kumasi: Cita Press LTD. ISBN 9988-8240-3-3. 

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