Name: Yaa Asantewaa

Alive: 1832-1921

Bio: Known for leading an armed rebellion against British colonial rule in the Asante Kingdom (modern day Ghana). Yaa Asantewaa rallied support behind her cause to free Asante of British rule, although unsuccessful, this war lasted from 1900-1901. The armed resistance effectively ended when Asantewaa was arrested. Throughout 1900, when the fighting had stopped, the British made it their mission to pursue Yaa Asantewaa, knowing her ability to rally anti-colonial ideas. Although Yaa did not fight, she remained an inspirational figure who at the time, symbolised independence for the Asante Kingdom- being placed as Commander in Chief over this period of fighting.

Quotes:

“How can a proud a brave people like the Asante sit back and look while white men took away their king and chiefs and then humiliate them with demands for the Golden stool? The Golden stool only means money to the white man; they searched and dug everywhere for it. I shall not pay one Predwan (currency) to the Governor. If you the chiefs of Asante are going to behave like cowards and not fight, you should exchange your loincloths for my undergarments.” Rallying speech.

Popular culture:

“Warrior Queen” – short film, 2009

Further Reading:

  • A. Adu Boahen, Yaa Asantewaa and the Asante-British War of 1900-1 (2003)
  • A. Adu Boahen “Yaa Asantewaa in the Yaa Asantewa War of 1900: Military Leader or Symbolic Head?” in Ghana Studies 3, 111-135 (2000)