The Ashanti Empire

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Golden Stool of the Ashanti Empire

An Ashanti is a member of  the ethnic group of Akan origin, tracing their existence in Ghana. The Ashantis once paid tribute to the Denkyira.

The Ashanti region is the current abode of the people of Ashanti Kingdom. The Ashanti region is situated in the southern part of Ghana, covering a total land surface of 24,389 km² or 10.2 per cent of the total land area of Ghana.

Map of Ashanti Empire [1800s]
In the 1670’s, the Ashanti Empire was already established in Kumasi. A new Asante king called Osei Tutu led the Ashanti’s to overthrow the Denkyira and selected Kumasi as its seat of power. By the 1700’s, Osei Tutu had taken over the gold fields and in possession of the minerals. He was able to trade with the Europeans, and purchased weaponries from the Europeans to solidify his defense. Making the Ashantis stronger.

Osei Tutu died and his successor, Opoku Ware decided to make the Asante kingdom greater by expanding the kingdom, covering most parts of Ghana. The Ashanti kingdom having a strong traditional military and with great agricultural productivity began to trade with its neighbors. A great trade network was then established leading to the west across the Atlantic Ocean and North across the Sahara. The items involved in the trade were gold, slaves, ivory and kola nuts.

Slaves trading, also became very a great source of income aside gold. An estimation of about 6,000 to 7,000 slaves were exported at the end of the eighteenth century from the then Gold Coast. Most of the slaves ended up crossing the Atlantic Ocean where the rest ended up as workers in the gold fields. The Kingdoms and states subservient to the Asantes payed their tribute in the form of slaves and gold and other things that were meaningful.

In the 19th Century, a conflict rose between the British and the Ashantis due to the practice of human sacrifices carried out by the Ashantis. The reluctance to stop these practices led to an attack on the Ashantis by the British. The Ashantis lost their southern territories to the British in 1874. In 1846, the ’Asantehene’ was bullied in public by Maxwell who was the governor. The Asantehene and his entourage were later sent out into exile due to their inability to meet the demands in the treaty that was signed in Fomena, 1874.

Golden Stool of the Ashanti Empire

The golden stool, became a source of power to the Asantehene and Ashantis as a whole. The stool became the soul of the nation, the good fortune of the nation and represented the people. The British got to know about the power of the stool decided to take it. In the year 1900, Sir Frederick Hodgson, the then Gold Coast governor, demanded for the stool in the midst of the Ashanti Chiefs during a meeting.

“Where is the Gold Stool? Why am I not sitting on the Golden Stool at this moment? I am the representative of the paramount power; why have you relegated me to this chair?” Verbatim transcript of Sir Frederick Hodgson’s address to Ashanti chiefs January 1900.

Sir Frederick, later on ordered soldiers to search for the golden stool. The soldiers did so offensively.

“The white man asked the children where the Golden Stool was kept in Bare. The white man said he would beat the children if they did not bring their fathers from the bush. The children told the white man not to call their fathers. If he wanted to beat them, he should do it. The children knew the white men were coming for the Golden Stool. The children did not fear beating. The white soldiers began to bully and beat the children.”

Eyewitness account of Kwadwo Afodo, quoted by Thomas J. Lewin in his book Asante before the British: The Prempean Years 1875-1900. 

The search of the golden stool, led to a rebellion which was led by a very brave woman, Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa. The governor was then besieged in Kumasi. In July 1900, the Queen mother was only defeated by an expeditionary force from Britain. In the year 1901, the British adjoined the Ashantis.

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