Tradition & Culture

Sagrenti War: Asantehemaa Objected to the War

A panel discussion about the Sagrenti War during its 150th Anniversary on February 6, 2024, revealed the decision to go to war against the British who were led by Sir Garnet Wolseley received some level of opposition from the then Asantehemaa, Nana Afia Kobi.

Speaking on the role of women in war and diplomacy of Asante, a historian with the Department of History at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof Eugenia Anderson recounted how the Asantehemaa whose son occupied the Golden Stool, Kofi Karikari, advised against the war.

“On 20th November 1873, at the gathering of Asanteman Nhyiamu, she is noted to have said ‘From olden times, it has been seen that God fight for Asante if war is a just one. This one is unjust. I am old now. I lived before Kwaku Dua and I have now placed my son on the Asante throne. I do not wish for our ancestors to say my son was the cause of the disturbance of the 60 towns’.”

According to Prof Anderson, the counsel of the military general superseded hers, leading to the 1874 Sagrenti War where the Asantes were woefully defeated.

The aftermath of the war saw the dethronement of Kofi Karikari and the enthronement of Mensa Bonsu, another son of the Asantehemaa.

Unjust War
In the words of Afia Kobi, as quoted by the Ghanaian historian, the war against the British was unjust, and the sentiment finds support in the submission by Prof. Samuel Ntewusu.

He noted that Asantes during a war against Ewes abducted and took captive some Basel Missionaries, leading to the death of a new born baby of Friedrich Augustus Louis Ramseyer, one of the missionaries.

This, among other things, intensified the attention on Asantes and the need to subdue them permanently from the perspective of the Basel Missionaries and the British governor.

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