When a woman galantly lead an army to fight an oppressor, shouldn’t that woman be a subject of interest to be studied? In the days when men proudly shook hands with death, and virgins were godesses, Yaa Asantewaa became the first female African Military General who led military to fight the British in West Africa.
Queen Yaa Asantewaa was the queen of Edweso State under Ashanti Kingdom in Gold Coast (present day Ghana). The Asante-British War that was fought in 1900-1901 was named after her due to the instrumental roles she played. Yaa Asantewaa was born in 1832 to Kwabena Ampoma and Maame Attaa Poh. By Matrilineal System of inheritance as practiced by most Akans, she was an Asona Royal Clan member. Below are some unique things about the most famous and bravest queen West Africa has ever seen.
Queen Yaa Asantewaa was an offshoot of the deity named ATEKO in Edweso State. For seven consecutive times, a woman of the royal family of Edweso State of Asante in Gold Coast gave birth to twins and lost each set within one year of their birth. They consulted an oracle for such a misfortune. The oracle revealed that an ethereal
being wanted to manifest itself to be attached to the royal throne of Edweso. Later, a woman named Nana Permaa gave birth to two daughters in separate years. One of these two ladies gave birth to a mysterious body without human form. The body was preserved and placed at the family shrine. It was after the manifestation of the
‘entity’ that Yaa Asantewaa was born.
Queen Yaa Asantewaa
Yaa Asantewaa was a committed worshiper and faithful servant to Ateko (her royal deity). She was a member of group that sang praises to the shrine when the priest
of the shrine was in a trance on each fortieth-day-festival.
The name of her husband was Opanin Kwabena Owusu. Yaa Asantewaa had only one daughter with her husband. The name of her daughter was Serwaa-Brakatu. Serwaa gave birth to eleven children.
Yaa Asantewaa disliked monopoly of men by women. Yaa Asantewaa encouraged her husband to marry more wives to have many cash crop plantations. But she treated the other children of her husband as her own.
Yaa Asantewaa became the first female to rule as a king and queen of Edweso State in the history of the traditional area. Yaa Asantewaa was enstooled
as a king when her grandson ( Nana Afranie Kuma) was deported from his state with King Prempeh by the British Colonial rulers to Seychelles.
To gather men for the war, Queen Yaa Asantewaa’s first strategy was to invoke the gods to kill any woman who would make love with any man who was not enlisted in the army – all men had no choice but to join the army. Men of 20,000 joined the army with their own guns.
Yaa Asantewaa’s deity (ATEKO) was always carried by a virgin before the military. Invoking the deity made it possible to off guard a fired missile. Edweso became a
very important spiritual town for the Golden Stool.
Yaa Asantewaa used her spittle of kola nut to soil the hand of Mrs Mary Hodgson, wife of governor Hodgson during the declaration of the want of the Golden Stool. She
said, “Foolish white man. Who are you to demand the Golden Stool? Golden Stool is the property of the Asante King and not for people like you: do you belong to the
royal family?” This was after King Prempeh was exiled.
Compatriots, why is it that all great African people in history were people who embraced their African spirituality?
Asirifi Danquah, “The Struggle Between Two Great Queens 1900-1901”
Rev Carl Christian Reindorf, “History of the Gold Coast and Asante, based on traditions and hsitorical facts: comprising a period of more than three
centuries from about 1500 to 1860”, 1961.