Brief History Of The Ashanti Kingdom – The Rise And Fall Of The Empire

The Ashanti kingdom; according to an oral story, was a pre-colonial empire established towards the end of 16th and the beginning of the 17th century in the present-day Ghana in the heart of Kumasi, by an Asantehene (king) Osei Tutu and his adviser Okomfo Anokye.

The Ashanti Empire was an ethnic group of the Akan-speaking clan that consists of the Fante, Wassaw, and some Twi-speaking people.

Ashanti was a word derived from the Twi language that means “Because of war” as it was told that kingdom was established to fight the Denkyira clan.
They were among the most powerful kingdom in Ghana because of the gold in their land which attracted the Portuguese traders and was given the name ‘the Gold Coast’. They were said to be a subordinate empire of the Denkyira – a powerful state in Akan during the 17th century that dominated the gold market and the routes by conquering and looting their neighbors.

In 1698, the Asantehene, Osei Tutu and his adviser, Okomfo Anokye went to war against the Denkyira with Kumasi and some empires as allies, they conquered the Denkyira in 1699. Before the end of 1701, the Ashanti kingdom became the most powerful in the region leading the gold market as they partnered with the European traders that were mainly Portuguese.
Osei Tutu and Okomfo Anokye transformed the kingdom into a powerful political and military state in the coastal region with Kumasi the head capital, he centralized and reformed their military and established a cultural festival for the Ashanti kingdom called the Odwira.
On the day of declaring from the Denkyira, a golden stool (Sika Dwa) was said to have been ordered from the heavens into the laps of Osei Tutu by Okomfo Anokye who was also the chief priest, as the recognized Asantehene of Ashanti. The golden stool represented their ancestors and a powerful symbol that represents leadership and the new union of the clan.

Brief History Of The Ashanti Kingdom - The Rise And Fall Of The Empire
Golden Stool – The Sika Dwa (image credit:

In the 17th century, the Ashanti people solely depended on the gold trade and slave trade as they exchange these with goods like guns and weapons which they took to war and in turn capture more slaves for their trade.

With the landing of the British traders on the Coast, they intended to monopolize the trade but the Ashanti strongly opposed them, and that was the beginning of the war between the Ashanti and the British as Fante and Denkyira kingdom waged war in alliance with the British fought the Ashanti.

In 1824, 10,000 of Ashanti warriors were sent after the British, Fante, and Denkyira soldiers in their territory. They captured, killed, and placed the head of the British governor, Charles MacCarthy in Kumasi as a sign of warning.

In 1826, the British retaliated and conquered the Ashanti living in Kantamanto. Some years later, the British conquered Kumasi and all territories along South of Pra River, not giving up yet, the Ashanti reinforced but was met by massive cannon fires that forced King Agyeman Prempeh into an exile and total destruction of Kumasi.

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Yaa Asantewa (image credit:

In 1901, Yaa Asantewa who took over leadership launched a reprisal attack but was still conquered by the British reinforcement from Sierra Leone and Nigeria. After laying down arms, the British took over the Gold Coast and made it their colony in 1902.