Yaa Asantewaa was born in 1840. She was famous for leading the Ashanti rebellion against British colonialism. She was the sister of the Ruler of Ejisu (Ejisuhene) an ethnic group in present day Ghana.
Africa has been blessed with numerous women of great courage. These include Queen Idia of Benin, Queen Amina of Zaria and a host of other brave women leaders. Nana Asantewaa was the most prominent of the lot. Her accomplishments may not have been as great as Queen Amina of Zaria in terms of span of leadership, but her standing up to fight the British occupation in West Africa in spite of an initially cowardly front put up by Ghanaian men puts her at the top of Africa’s great female leaders.
Asantewaa was appointed queen mother by her brother. Her brother, Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpase’s reign was marked with ups and down. Akwasi died after the Asante civil war in 1883-1888. 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 Ashante (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 followed by looting of their land. This has lead to the discoveries of lots of Africa’s valued arts and crafts in Britain. Till date Africa has been unable to regain its stolen treasures.
As expected, to further heightened matters, the British Governor-General of Ghana (then known as the Gold Coast) Frederick Hodgson, demanded the Golden Stool of the Ashante. The Golden stool was the symbol of the Asante nation. This prompted a conference of the elders. Yaa Asantewaa was highly disgusted at the behaviour of her mail counterparts and insisted that if the men would not fight, she would gather the women to fight for the land. The British Royalty was not as old as numerous African Royalty and even though more powerful at the time, was still of inferior quality.
Yaa Asantewaa led the famous Uprising in 1900 against the British. She was captured and sent on exile to the Seychelles. Yaa Asantewa died in Exil on the 17th of October 1971.
Yaa Asantewa's War was the last major war led by an African woman. She is honoured in Africa till this very day. Her body was later returned to Ghaana were she was giving a befitting burial. She is honoured with a school named after her, the Yaa Asantewaa Girl’s Secondary School.