Asante Nation From 1901 – 1924

Asante Nation From 1901 – 1924

                                                         ASANTE KINGDOM FROM  1901  –  1924

After the 1900 war , Nana Yaa Asantewaa and fifteen of her leaders were deported to the Seychelles Islands in March , 1901. According to Kimble , other events which followed were :
A.   Asante was officially annexed as Britain territory in January 1902. After the arrest of the King,Nana Prempeh in 1896 and Nana Yaa Asantewaa war in 1900, Asante remained outside British jurisdiction until this date when it was officially proclaimed a British Colony.

B.    Following the annexation of Asante, a law was passed in the same year , 1902 by the government that before any chief who had been enstooled at any part of Asante could be a chief, he had to get recognition from the government. That in short meant he had to be gazetted.

C.     After the annexation, the government decided to,extend the Takoradi railway line from Tarkwa to Kumase . This was done and the first train entered Kumase in 1903.this improved Kumase,s position as the Marketing Centre of the interior.

D.      Though Kumase became an important marketing centre , power held by Kumase as the head of Asante Kingdom dwindled and Kumase was no more recognise by the government as the Asante Capital but the capital of Kumase state. This was done to spell the doom of the Asante Confederacy and in accordance with the independence the government gave to the individual states.

E.       After the annexation, the government saw that the stools of the chiefs deported with the King , Nana Prempeh and those deported or imprisoned after the Yaa Asantewaa war were vacant therefore she appointed some people to be enstooled as chiefs to fill the vacant places. Some of the appointees were not royals to some of the stools. Even some wee strangers who had no connection with the stool they occupied. Oral tradition has it that some of the government appointees were later destooled by their people between 1904 and 1905.

F.        Government,s interference in chieftaincy matters reduced the power of Chiefs drastically. By 1909 the old order where chiefs were all powerful had changed to the extent that if a chief wanted to impose a levy on his subjects, the latter would ask him to give the reasons for the levy. The subjects could refuse if they were not satisfied with the chiefs explanation. In short , chiefs became accountable to their subject.

G.        The war-like spirit of Asante people changed to quest for farming and trading . Cocoa farming became the order of the day in the villages and towns while urban dwellers took to trading . As a result of their farming and trading activities, the people became rich and started constructing roads to link their towns and major roads through communal labour and voluntary contributions.

H.         After the Yaa Asantewaa war, missionaries of different religious denominations penetrated into all the corners of the Asante Kingdom and started their gospel propagation and building of schools . The Western type of education spread all over Asante at the expense of Native education. Those who had this formal education got employment as administrators, teachers , interpreters and storekeepers. At first royals were not sent to school because of fear of cane. However , the people later realised that to get to the limelight , one needed to be educated , so royal households started sending their royals to school, especially the would-be chief,s school. Campaign on education for royals was spearheaded by the Asante Kotoko Society. One of her members was Mr. E. P. Owusu, who was a royal of the Golden Stool a nod who had the western type of education himself. His presence and active participation in the campaign convinced the people to send their royals to school.

Asante Kotoko society was a club formed by the elite of the Asante Kingdom in 1916. The aims of the society were:

A.      To educate the masses to be loyal to the government and their traditional chiefs.

B.      To help upgrade agriculture, education and the study of science in the Asante Kingdom.

C.      To promote the study of their history, laws and tradition.

D.     To promote Christianity and propagation of Christian religion in the Kingdom.

E.     To educate the people against selfishness and to have the spirit of self-sacrifices as did the founding fathers of old.  In short , their objective was to educate the people to place Asante Kingdom above themselves. Apart from the aims stated, they had other goals like,
1.    Rallying behind their Chiefs to develop the Kingdom. They was that if they the elite or highly educated people of the Kingdom and torch bearers did not give support to the Chiefs and regard them as their leaders , the government interference would bring that institutions to ruin and cause the development of the Kingdom to lag behind.
2.    Encouraging the study of their culture and tradition in order to promote those that hamper progress . Here too, they sensed the danger western type of education would bring . If care was not taken to promote their culture . There would be the imposition of foreign culture on them which would lead to loss of their identity as a Kingdom. They , however, realised that there were some aspects of the culture which did not promote progress and should therefore be abandoned e.g. Human sacrifice.
3.    To promote the study of festival of the Kingdom. Here too they found out that every nation has her festivals which promote their live hood. They therefore encouraged the study of Asante Festivals to protect the Kingdom,s identity and beliefs.
Those who started the society included the following:

1.       Mr.     E.P.                    Owusu,  who later became Nana Osei Agyemang Prempeh II
2.       Mr.    J. Agyei              Kyem
3.       Mr.    Kwadwo             Juantua
4.       Mr.    Mensa                Bonsu
5.       Mr     S. T. A                Afrane
6.       Mr.    J. W. K              Appiah
7.       Mr.    I . K                    Agyemang
8.       Mr.   O. S.                   Agyemang
9.       Mr.   J. E.                    Bannor
10.     Mr.   J. S.                    Kankam
11.     Mr.   Kwabena            Mensa
12.     Mr.   Harry                 Owusu
13.     Mr.   Kofi                    Sraha
14.     Mr.   A. B.                  Thompson

One major problem the Society addressed herself to was the fight for the return of Nana Prempeh, the King. Apart from the Society , the return of the King was the cry of the whole Asante Kingdom. Other prominent citizens of the Gold Coast also added their voice to the Kings return.  The Government too saw the need for his return it harboured the fear that his return would kindle the Asante unity and bring about the warlike spirit again. The Governor therefore, made it known that if Nana Prempeh , the King would return, he would not, come as Asantehene but a private citizen. As a result of numerous appeals , Governor Guggisberg met the Chiefs of Asante in 1920 and told them that if they wanted their King,s return , they should hand the Golden Stool over to him. The chiefs replied that the Golden Stool was not the property of Nana Prempeh, the King as an individual but the property of the whole Asante Kingdom.therefore they could not give it to him. The Governor replied that though it was not the King,s property , yet he was allowed to sit on it and therefore the government would know what to do with it when it was handed over to her . No persuasion from the British government induced them to give it up since it was a symbol of their spiritual unity. They therefore made it their duty to work together for its safety . While the chiefs of Asante were discussion about the safety of the Golden Stool, news broke out that some six people had stolen some of the ornaments of the Golden Stool.
The six were :
1.       Chief Banor ( known as Seniagya)   —-    Nseniehene
2.       Kwaneba  Asubonten                          —–   Gyaasewahene( alias Buabasa)
3.       Nana Danso                                           —–   Chief of Aboabogya
4.       Kwadwo Poku                                       —–   A gold smith
5.       Kwasi  Yankyera
6.       Kwame  Yoguo

The theft sparked anger among all the chiefs and citizens of Asante Kingdom and United them to seek vengeance  on the culprits. The chiefs gathered in Kumase  and constituted themselves into a tribunal chaired by Mamponghene to judge the case . The six were founded guilty on the following counts:
( A )    That they had exposed the Golden Stool which was a sacred treasure of the Asante Kingdom to ridicule.
( B )    That the act had brought disgrace to the Asante Kingdom.
( C)     That the act had sparked anger in the Kingdom and had resulted in the death of some people.

The culprits were therefore sentenced to death in accordance with the Asante laws and traditions. The government commuted the death sentence to imprisonment and banishment from Asanteland after serving their sentence. Throughout the trial, the Asante Kotoko society saw to it that there was no order . The government watched the way the whole case was conducted and the able manner the chiefs a nod the Asante Kotoko society handled the case peacefully with eagle eye, and she therefore became convinced that the Asante Kingdom was changed and there was order in the society .
The new atmosphere reigning in the Asante Kingdom prompted some prominent men of the Gold Coast to add their voice to the cry fro the return of the King ( Nana Prempeh) . The agitators for the King,s( Nana Prempeh) return were spearheaded at the legislative assembly by Mr. Casely Hayford and Nana Ofori Atta I , King of Akyem Abuakwa. Nana Ofori Atta quoted a pathetic letter from Nana Prempeh( the King) : ” During this time , I have lost my mother , father, brother and almost all my chiefs . Now there remains six chiefs ,and out of the six one is blind, and the remaining are old and ill” . This was sad news for the assembly . Governor Guggisberg, after reading and listening to all the petitions on his own observations, was convinced that the Asante Kingdom had turned into a Nation of agriculture  and were interested in nothing more than farming and trade . He therefore agreed to the request for the return of the King( Nana Prempeh).



Source: Ashantibiz


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