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This month's most interesting woman is Yaa Asantewa! We celebrate and admire her incredible courage and bravery as a woman and as a revolutionary solider.

BIO:Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti Empire

Her fight against British colonialists is a story that is woven throughout the history of Ghana. One evening the chiefs held a secret meeting at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa, the Queen Mother of Ejisu, was at the meeting. The chiefs were discussing how they should make war on the white men and force them to bring back the Asantehene. Yaa Asantewa noticed that some of the chiefs were afraid. Some said that there should be no war. They should rather go to beg the Governor to bring back the Asantehene King Prempeh. Then suddenly Yaa Asantewa stood up and spoke. This was what she said: "Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opolu Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see thief king taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared to speak to chief of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning. Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this, if you the 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." This speech stirred up the men who took an oath to fight the white men until they released the Asantehene. For months the Ashantis led by Yaa Asantewa fought very bravely and kept the white men in the fort. Yet British reinforcements totaling 1,400 soldiers arrived at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa and other leaders were captured and sent into exile. Yaa Asantewa's war was the last of the major war in Africa led by a women.

Yaa Asantewa!
Original Post

by Runoko Rashidi


"In Africa the woman's `place' was not only with her family; she often ruled nations with unquestionable authority. Many African women were great militarists and on occasion led their armies in battle. Long before they knew of the existence of Europe the Africans had produced a way of life where men were secure enough to let women advance as far as their talent would take them."
--John Henrik Clarke

Near the end of the nineteenth century, the British exiled King Prempeh from the hinterlands of the Gold Coast (present day Ghana), in an attempt to assume power. By 1900, still not gaining dominance, the British sent a governor to the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti, to demand the Golden Stool, described as "the Ark of the Covenant of the Ashanti people." The Golden Stool was the supreme symbol of the sovereignty and independence of the Ashantis--an aggressive and warlike people who inhabit the dense rain forests of what is now the central portion of Ghana, West Africa.

Yaa Asantewa (1850-1921) was present at the meeting with the British governor, Lord Hodgson, and the Ashanti leaders. When the Ashanti kings made no reply to Hodgson's demands she chastised them and vilified them for their cowardice. Her speech found an African audience and stirred up the men when she said, "If you men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I will call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men until the last of us falls on the battlefields."

The Ashantis, led by Yaa Asantewa, fought bravely and gallantly. The British sent 1400 soldiers with guns to Kumasi, eventually capturing Yaa Asantewa and other leaders and sent them into exile. The war with the British started in 1805 and ended a century later. Yaa Asantewa's War was the last major war led by an African woman.

Yaa Asantewa's name and bravery will always be remembered. According to Dr. John Henrik Clarke, "Because her agitation for the return of Prempeh was converted into stirring demands for independence, it is safe to say that she helped to create part of the theoretical basis for the political emergence of modern Africa."

African Warrior Queens, by John Henrik Clarke Ghana: A History for Primary Schools, by E.A. Addy

Yaa Asantewa

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