Ashanti Kingdom Of Ghana, Africa: During the 17th century, in what is now known as Ghana, the Ashanti Empire became more popular in the West African region. The Ashanti or Asante, as some would call them, were a subgroup of people who spoke the Akan language, and were made up of small chiefdoms.
They established their nation-state around Kumasi in the late 1600s, soon after their first encounter with the Europeans. The Ashanti kingdom became more popular among Europeans and outsiders because of the wars and endless skirmishes which arose when the Europeans sought access to the famous gold deposits which led to the area being called the Gold Coast.
At this time, it was the Portuguese who were the predominant Europeans in West Africa. With time, they designated Ashanti an important trading outpost, providing wealth and weapons which enriched the small state and allowed it to dominate its neighbors. However, at the turn of the 18th, Ashanti was simply one of the numerous Akan-speaking Portuguese trading outposts within the region.
The political landscape evolved when Osei Tutu, the Asantehene (paramount chief) of Ashanti from 1701 to 1717, and his priest Komfo Anokye, brought together the independent smaller states into the most powerful political and military state within the coastal region. He organized the Asante Union, a group of Akan-speaking people loyal to his authority and dominion.
He also made Kumasi his capital city and created a constitution, also reorganizing and centralizing the army. Most importantly, he created the Golden Stool, which came to represent the ancestor of all the people of Ashanti. It was upon this stool that Osei Tutu legitimized and entrenched his rule and that of the royal dynasty that came after him.
The Ashanti Empire grew on account of the huge gold deposit it sat on. Osei Tutu appropriated the goldmines as royal possessions. Gold dust became the legal tender at the time within the empire. It was so frequently accumulated by the citizens, particularly by the emerging middle class.
However, even the poor and low class in the society even used gold dust as ornaments on their apparel and other possessions. Larger gold ornaments were reserved for the royal family and the nobility. Once in a while, they were smelt and fashioned into beautiful jewelry and statuary.
While the early Ashanti economy largely depended on gold exports in the 1700s, it soon evolved into a major exporter of slaves. In the early days of the slave trade, it focused north, with most captives sent to Mande and the Hausa traders who exchanged the slaves for goods from North Africa and indirectly from Europe too. Around 1800, the trade-in humans moved to the south due to the Ashanti traders trying to meet up with the high demands of the British, Dutch, and French buyers. In exchange, the Ashanti got luxury items and firearms from the Europeans.
The consequences of this trade in humans were dire. Right from 1790 to around 1896, the kingdom was in a continuous state of war and conflict which involved its expansion or defense of its domain. Most of these conflicts afforded the empire to gain more slaves for export. But the constant battles also weakened the empire against the British who eventually became the main enemy.
From 1823 to 1873, the Shanti kingdom strongly resisted the invasion by the British. This was to change around 1874 when the British forces successfully run over the empire, briefly capturing the capital city, Kumasi. The Ashanti people strongly rebelled against British rule but the empire was again captured in 1896. When another uprising occurred in 1900, the British colonialists deposed and exiled the Asantehen and totally annexed the empire, renaming it the Gold Coast colony in 1902.
This Article Was Culled From Liberty Writers Africa.