Yaa Asantewaa

The Inspirational Warrior Queen Who Led An Army Against The British

Born around 1840, Yaa Asantewaa’s bravery lit the spark for Ghana’s independence just over a century later. The Queen Mother of Ejisu turned warrior to fight the British in the War of the Golden Stool, and earned an enduring place in Ghana’s history.

Paving the way for independence

Yaa Asantewaa became Queen Mother of Ejisu when her brother died towards the end of the 19th century and her grandson was made ruler of the region. The British later exiled her grandson and other rulers, and appointed Yaa Asantewaa as regent. But they got more than they bargained for when they demanded the Golden Stool — a symbol of the Asanti people. At a meeting with the remaining chiefs, Yaa Asantewaa called for action:

‘‘How can the Asante people, who are known to be brave turn to cowards while the foreigners exiled and tortured their leaders with a request for the Golden Stool in exchange for their lives. The Golden stool would only be a source of money for the white men. They have searched everywhere for it. I shall not dance to their tunes.”

As a result, Yaa Asantewaa became a warrior at the age of 60, leading an army of 5,000 against the British in the so-called War of the Golden Stool. The rebellion was soon quashed, and she ended her life in exile in the Seychelles. But her fighting spirit and desire for independence could not be stamped out so easily. Ghana gained independence in 1957, and Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother, remains an inspirational figure today.


Yaa Asantewaa Dress

In our Yaa dress, we wanted to remember the Queen Mother’s stirring words to her fellow rulers. So we chose a fabric adorned with a print of two parrots talking — a symbol of the eloquence that kick-started a rebellion and ultimately paved the way for Ghanaian independence.

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