Yaa Asantewaa is a prominent queen from the twentieth century who is a symbol of strength in society. It is believed she approximately lived from the 1840s-1920s (blackpast.org). Her given title is Queen Mother of Ejisu in the Ashanti Empire (ghanaweb.com). She became appointed to her by her brother, Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpase, an influential ruler in the 1880s. Although Yaa Asantewaa received this role from her brother, she rightfully earned the title.
The Ashanti Empire could be found in a “pre-colonial West African state that emerged in the 17th century” (blackpast.org). This empire is now what we know as Ghana. During her reign she became known for being a “successful farmer and mother…an intellectual, a politician, a human rights activist” etc (ghanaweb.com). She led the rebellion of the Ashanti in opposition to British colonialism. This war was in defense of the Golden Stool. Despite women being viewed as less, she stood up as a powerful leader during this war.
The Golden Stool
According to blackpast.org, the Golden Stool is “an emblem of the Ashanti kingdom, cultural system, and power.” As Queen Mother, Yaa Asantewaa acted as right hand to the king. Therefore, she was protector of the Golden Stool. One of her responsibilities as protector was to bring forward contestants when the Stool became unoccupied.
Around 1896 the Ashanti went against the British. In response, the British “captured and exiled Asantehene Prempeh I, King of the Ashanti” (blackpast.org). Yaa Asantewaa’s grandson, Kofi Tene, a leader in the community, was forced out as well. This was done in an attempt to take the Golden Stool. However, the Ashanti were not a group to back down and just hand over this prized posession of their community.
War of Independence
Yaa Asantewaa led the troops in what is known as the “Yaa Asantewaa War of Independence” (blackpast.org). Accordingly, she became Commander in Chief in this conflict with the British which took place in approximately March 1900. Her leading this revolution showcased a high level of resiliency. Due to this, she, along with several advisors, were taken and banished to Seychelles. Seychelles consists of islands which are off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean (theworldpursuit.com). She passed away in Seychelles around 1921.
Yaa Asantewaa was a powerful and fierce leader who strived to empower her community. Though she was banished from her community, her impact is still present in today’s society. She protected the Ashanti at all costs and, as the Queen Mother, left an impact which continues to inspire others today.