For some, the war of the Golden Stool between the Ashanti people (present-day Ghana) and the British was just like every other war. This perception is wrong; the Golden Stool war was one of a kind, beyond ordinary and led by African women.
In the late 1800s, European governments, strengthened by the resolution of the Berlin Conference, jetted out to conquer Africa, steal its resources, and decimate her people who would resist their presence.
The Queen of England had sent Sir William Edward Maxwell to the Ashanti kingdom, to conquer them and bring them under the British colony.
The ambassador, Sir Maxwell began with diplomatic talks and elusive threats to the Ashanti people, in an attempt to intimidate them and surrender their lands and resources for direct rule by the queen. The deceptive ill-thought discussion was failing all over Africa, and that was because of African leaders and peoples were knowledgeable, than to make any deals with the Europeans.
The war began with the Ruler of the Ashanti Empire, king Prempe I. He and his people, alongside the leader of the Ejisu, vehemently refused to accept the deal tabled before them, which was for their land and gold to be annexed and ruled by the British.
The British began to forcefully dominate and subdue the Ashanti, just like they were doing all over Africa, but the Ashanti resisted them on several occasions.
The continuous resistance of the Ashanti people led to the fourth Anglo-Ashanti War. The war was short and lasted for about three months, from December of 1895 to February of 1896. The king of the Ashanti Empire, Prempe I was forced to abandon the throne by the British, together with the ruler of the Ejisu district, and also other notable leaders and members of the Ashanti Empire. This was a punishment for resisting and defying the authority of the British. Although, the king went into exile in order to save the lives of his people.
After the king and the other chieftains went into exile, the British went ahead to plunder and steal their resources.
After the king’s exile, the grandmother of the ruler of Ejisuhene assumed the throne as queen regent of the Ejisu-Juaban district. Her name was Yaa Asantewa. She was an epitome of what the people want.
By this time, the region had been handed over to the British protectorate, and Sir Frederick Hudgson had taken over as the governor of the region and was intensifying the British rule under the command of the Queen of England.
Sooner than later, the news of Ashanti Golden Stool, and how priced and symbolic it was for the ruler of the Ashanti people and their custom in general reached the governor. Out of covetousness and dissatisfaction, Hodgson wanted the chair. He believed, as the new ruler of the Ashanti region, he should be offered the Golden stool to sit on, instead of the ordinary chair he was offered.
The stool was said to be a sacred symbol and an embodiment of their sovereignty and divine prestige, and they were not willing to give it to a foreigner to sit on. The people kept the stool away from Hodgson reach, furious Hodgson deployed his soldiers to search for the stool around the kingdom.
While his attention was on finding the Golden stool, the queen regent, Yaa Asantewa mobilized the remaining leaders of the Ashanti government in a secret meeting. She brought them together so they could find a way to protect their sacred Golden Stool, secure the return of their exiled king and to revolt and chase out the British.
Many of the leaders whom she had gathered out of fear of the British declined the plan against the British, and would not agree to some of her suggestions. But brave and bold Yaa Asentewa in anger, said: “…Is it true that the bravery of Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it! It cannot be! If the men of Ashanti fear to fight, then I shall summon my fellow women of Ashanti! We shall fight till the last among us falls on the battlefield!”
Her fearlessness and boldness assembled an army of 5,000. She commanded the army to engage the British in a battle, which is referred to till date as the “War of the Golden Stool.”
The Ashanti army and warriors laid ambush on Hodgson’s deputy and his forces and killed them in great numbers. Those who survived escaped because of a rainstorm that had started. The rest of the British troops retreated to Kumasi, which was the major base for the British colonial offices.
The Ashanti were bent on excavating the British totally from their kingdom. They didn’t give up their revolt. They surrounded the British at all corners, frustrating their mission. The Ashanti warriors blocked all the roads leading to the town, preventing food supplies from getting to them, and destroyed their telegraph wires.
Isolated British troops got frustrated and a disease broke out in their base. A British rescue party arrived, and helped Hodgson, his wife and a few others who were not affected yet by the disease, to escape. While they were escaping, the Ashanti Abrade warriors ambushed them and slaughtered many of them.
This was a huge blow for the British which had to wait one whole year to gather forces and ammunition with which they attacked the Ashanti kingdom. After a fierce battle, they defeated the Ashanti people and arrested their leaders.
The leaders were exiled to Seychelles for 25 years of which many of them lived and died in Seychelles without setting eyes on their country again. Yaa Asantewa also died in exile in 1921 and the King, Prempe I was set free from exile in 1924 and returned to his people, after the British had formed strong bases in Ghana.
Today, the Ghanaians are super proud of how their ancestors resisted and were able to strategically defeat the Caucasians to prevent the British from stealing and owning the Golden Stool. They defended their ancestral divine heritage with their lives and blood.
The name of the Queen Regent, Yaa Asantewa, was forever inscribed in the hearts of the Ghanaians and indeed all Africans, as one of the greatest and fearless women who resisted and defended her people in the face of Caucasian greed and viciousness.