top of page

Yaa Asantewaa I (1840 – 1921)

Queen Mother of the Asante Kingdom


In this post we will be using the correct name and spelling as "Asante" instead of "Ashanti" as it accurately reflects the original name of the ethnic group and honors their cultural identity. This choice respects linguistic authenticity and historical context, aligning with the Twi language and traditional usage.


Born in 1840 in the Asante region (present-day Ghana), Yaa Asantewaa emerges as a pivotal figure in the resistance against British colonialism. Though her early years are shrouded in mystery, her appointment as Queen Mother of the Asante Kingdom signaled the beginning of her influential role. Holding the second-highest position within the Asante empire, Yaa Asantewaa's leadership and empowerment for women permeated throughout the kingdom, challenging traditional gender roles.


As Queen Mother, Yaa Asantewaa's duties included safeguarding the Golden Stool. The Golden Stool holds immense significance for the Asante people as a sacred symbol of unity, sovereignty, and ancestral power. Legend has it that it descended from the heavens into the lap of the first Asante king, embodying the spirit and collective identity of the nation.


In 1896, the Asante people rebeled against the British occupation of their lands. In an act of retribution, the British captured Asante King Prempeh I and other Asante leaders, including Queen Yaa Asantewaa's grandson Kofi Tene, The Asante chiefs were then exiled to the Seychelles Islands in an effort to seize the Golden Stool.


Further conflict erupted when British colonial governor Frederick Hodgson demanded that the Golden Stool be surrendered to allow him to sit on it as a symbol of British power over the Asante Kingdom. As the remaining Asante leaders gathered to deliberate on how to handle this threat - many considered submitting to the British demands. However, as assigned protector of the Golden Stool, Yaa Asantewaa stood firm and delivered the following speech:


"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 Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, leaders would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot.

No white man could have dared to speak to a leader of the Asante in the way the Governor spoke to you this morning.

Is it true that the bravery of the 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 the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields."


"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. "

Yaa Asantewaas' rallying cry challenged gender norms and inspired resistance.

She went on to assume the role of Commander In Chief of the Asante army in what became known as the "Yaa Asantewaa War of Independence" or the "War of the Golden Stool", on March 28, 1900. Despite her capture and exile to Seychelles, Yaa Asantewaa remained an enduring symbol of strength and defiance until her death in 1921.


Today, Ashanti thrives as an administrative region in central Ghana, predominantly inhabited by the Asante people who uphold the Twi language. Notably, the Golden Stool, a symbol of Asante sovereignty, remains safeguarded within the community, never captured by the British! In 1935, it played a pivotal role in the coronation of Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II, underscoring its enduring significance. Ghana's independence in 1957 marked a triumph over colonialism, further emphasizing the resilience of the Asante people.

The Golden Stool - UK National Archives

To empower future generations, the Yaa Asantewaa Girls' Secondary School was founded in Kumasi in 1960, reflecting the enduring legacy of Queen Yaa Asantewaa. In 2000, Ghana commemorated her centenary with a week-long celebration, culminating in the dedication of a museum in her honor in the Ejisu–Juaben District. Despite a tragic fire in 2004 that destroyed historical artifacts, including her sandals and battle dress, Queen Yaa Asantewaa's legacy endures. Today, Yaa Asantewaa II serves as the Queen-mother of Ejisu, carrying forward her ancestor's spirit of strength and leadership.


6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires


bottom of page