Yaa Asantewaa was the queen mother of the Edweso tribe of the Asante
(Ashanti) in what is modern Ghana. At the time, the Gold Coast
(west-central Africa) was under the British protectorate. The British
supported their campaigns against the Asante with taxes levied upon the
local population. In addition, they took over the state-owned gold mines
thus removing considerable income from the Asante government.
Missionary schools were also established and the missionaries began
interfering in local affairs.
When the Asante began rebelling against the British rule, the British
attempted to put down the unrests. Furthermore, the British governor,
Lord Hodgson, demanded that the Asante turn over to them the Golden
Stool, i.e. the throne and a symbol of Asante independence. Capt. C. H.
Armitage was sent out to force the people to tell him where the Golden
Stool was hidden and to bring it back. After going from village to
village with no success, Armitage found at the village of Bare only the
children who said their parents had gone hunting. In response, Armitage
ordered the children to be beaten. When their parents came out of hiding
to defend the children, he had them bound and beaten, too.
This brutality was the instigation for the Yaa Asantewaa War for
Independence which began on March 28, 1900. Yaa Asantewaa mobilized the
Asante troops and for three months laid siege to the British mission at
the fort of Kumasi. The British had to bring in several thousand troops
and artillery to break the siege. Also, in retaliation, the British
troops plundered the villages, killed much of the population,
confiscated their lands and left the remaining population dependent upon
the British for survival. They also captured Queen Yaa Asantewaa whom
they exiled along with her close companions to the Seychelle Islands off
Africa's east coast, while most of the captured chiefs became
prisoners-of-war. Yaa Asantewaa remained in exile until her death twenty