Yaa Asantewa “Queen Mother of Ejisu” (1900)
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. By 1900, still not gaining control, the British sent a governor to the city of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti, to demand the Golden Stool, the Ark of the covenant of the Ashanti people.
The Golden Stool was the supreme symbol of the sovereignty and the independence of the Ashanti, 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 Ashanti.
Yaa Asantewa’s speech stirred up the men, she said “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. The Ashantis, led by Yaa Asantewa, fought very bravely.Yaa Asantewa was present at the meeting with the governor and chiefs. When the meeting ended, and she was alone with the Ashanti 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 Opoku Ware, Ashanti Chiefs would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared speak to Ashanti Chiefs in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning.”
The British sent 1400 soldiers with guns to Kumasi, capturing Yaa Asantewa and other leaders and sent them into exile. The war with the British started in 1805 and ended some 100 years later. Yaa Asantewa’s War was the last major war led by an African woman.