Remembering the Kumasi Mutiny of 1901. Photomontage of Private Luseini an NCO of the British West African Regiment. Luseini was one of 134 soldiers who were imprisoned in Sierra Leone after the Kumasi Mutiny (Recorded in the British popular press at the time as the “Coomassie Mutiny”) of March 1901.
Throughout the colonial period, the defense of African colonies was largely the responsibility of locally recruited armies and paramilitary bodies. African colonial armies guarded frontiers and acted as imperial troops in overseas campaign but their primary role was to maintain internal security.
On rare occasions, they did use their arms and collective muscle to defy and threaten the authorities which employed them. One such instance is the mutiny of the West African Regiment in Asante in 1901.
The mutiny occurred because the native troops had not been paid for months despite constant promises from the British Government. It started on March 18 when 60 men went absent without leave from an evening parade.
The next morning, it was discovered that 178 more men had disappeared. The native troops mutinied and fired on British troops who returned fire, killing 12 mutineers.
The Kumasi mutiny lasted for 3 weeks. They were tried under the Army Act of 1881, sentenced and imprisoned in Sierra Leone. A dozen were sentenced to be executed by firing squad, but the sentence was later commuted to penal servitude.