Today in History, On October 17, 1921, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Queen mother of Ejisu and a great warrior of Asanteman died in Seychelles Island.
Yaa Asantewaa is said to have been born in 1840 and died in 1921. She was a successful farmer and mother. She was an intellectual, a politician, human right activist, Queen and a leader. Yaa Asantewaa became famous for leading the Ashanti rebellion against British colonialism to defend the Golden stool. She promoted women emancipation as well as gender equality. She was the sister of the Ruler of Ejisu (Ejisuhene) Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpase, an ethnic group in present day Ghana.
Nana Yaa Asantewaa was appointed queen mother by her brother, Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpese. Akwasi died after the Asante civil war between 1883 to 1888. After his death, Yaa Asantewaa, being very influential as queen mother, used her influence to nominate her grandson as Ruler of Ejisu. In 1896, her Grandson as well as the King of the Asante (Prempeh I) were exiled to Seychelles by the British.
This was Britain’s way of dealing with African kings in the past as was the case with the Benin Kingdom with the capture and exile of Oba Ovonramwen (King of Benin) in 1897. Sending a king to exile in such times was often followed by looting of their land. This has led to the discovery of lots of Africa’s valued arts and crafts in Britain. Till date, Africa has still not been able to regain its stolen treasures.
Yaa Asantewaa led the famous war known as the War of the Golden Stool in 1900 against the British. She was captured and sent on exile to the Seychelles. Nana Yaa Asantewaa died in exile on the 17th of October 1921. Yaa Asantewa’s War was the last major war led by an African woman.
Today, she is honored in Africa as one of the greatest African women. Her body was later returned to Ghana where she was given a befitting burial. She is honored with a school named after her, ‘Yaa Asantewaa Girls’ Secondary School’.