Today in History, exactly 89 years ago, On May 12, 1931 Asantehene Prempeh I (Kwaku Dua III) died in Kumasi, Gold Coast.
Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I, born in 1870 was the 13th King ruler of the Asante state of the Asante Kingdom and the Asante Oyoko Abohyen Dynasty. He was born as Prince Kwaku Dua III of the Kingdom of Ashanti, and he took the name of Prempeh I upon ascension on the throne at the young age of 18.
Reigned as Asantehene from March 1888 until his death in 1931 during which he repeatedly resisted the British Government’s attempts to subsume Asante into the Gold Coast Protectorate.
His reign was a troubled one as it fell during the time of British invasion/colonization of the Gold Coast. In essence, he was the last king of the Kingdom of Ashanti before the Gold Coast fell under British protectorate.
Asantehene Prempeh I began an active campaign of the Ashanti sovereignty. The British offered to take the Kingdom of Ashanti under their protection, but Asantehene Prempeh I of the Kingdom of Ashanti refused each request.
Asantehene Prempeh I stated, “My Kingdom of Ashanti will never commit itself to any such policy of protection; Ashanti people and the Kingdom of Ashanti must remain an independent sovereign state as of old, and at the same time be friends with all white men“.
In 1895 a British army was dispatched to Kumasi and Asantehene Prempeh I, the Queen Mother, and other important members of the Asante elite were taken prisoner and marched to the coast. On arrival they were kept for a year at Elmina Castle but were eventually exiled firstly to Sierra Leone and then later to the Seychelles Islands.
He arrived in Seychelles aboard the SS Dwarka on Tuesday 11th September of 1900; accompanied by 52 other prisoners, among them were his mother, his father, his brother and his three wives.
Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I stayed in exile in the Seychelles for 24 years before the the British allowed him to return to Kumasi as a private citizen.
On the 13th September of 1924, Prempeh and 49 others left Seychelles aboard SS Karoa for Bombay. The oldest among them was the ex-chief, James Asafu Boachie. He was 96 years old. The youngest was a three months old baby girl, daughter Rose Amah Apia, daughter of Kojo Apia (1831-1911) ex-chief of Kumasi.
Among them, on 13 were original deportees. On the 22nd September they left Bombay and travelled to Liverpool on SS Olympia. The party left Liverpool on SS Abinsi on 29th October. On Tuesday 11th November 1924, Prempeh arrived at Kumasi. He was then fifty- four years old.
But, not all of them left. James Prempeh, a son of the ex-king and his Seychelloise wife, Marie-Francoise Auguste remained in Seychelles.
They had seven children. In 1941, one of their daughters, Suzy Mary married Andre King, the son of Billy King (1857-1934), one of the liberated Africans who was brought to Seychelles by the Royal Navy in the 1860’s. The couple had a son and a daughter…who themselves had many children.
In 1926 he was officially recognised as the chief of Kumasi (Kumasihene).