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My Undergarments

 

March 28, 1900 — To members of the Asanti government council, Kumasi, Ashanti Empire (now Ghana)

 

How can a proud and brave people like the Asante sit back and look while white men took away their king and chiefs, and humiliated them with a demand for the Golden Stool? The Golden Stool only means money to the white man; they have searched and dug everywhere for it. I shall not pay one mpredwan to the governor. If you, the chiefs of Asante, are going to behave like cowards and not fight, you should exchange your loincloths for my undergarments (Monto mo danta mma me na moye me tam).

[Oral tradition says that to emphasize her determination to go to war, she seized a gun and fired a shot in front of the men, marking the beginning of the Ashante battle with the British.]

 

After assembling her warriors, she gave this speech:
 
Brave men of Ashanti, we are now faced with a serious confrontation by the Governor‘s extremely provocative request for the Golden Stool, which is the religious symbol of unity of the Ashanti nation. Not quite long ago the white man came and unilaterally occupied our God-given land and by force of arms has declared Ashanti Kingdom a British protectorate. We should also not forget that during the reign of King Karikari, the aggressors waged a senseless war on us, destroyed the seat of the Ashanti monarch and burnt our palace after looting all the treasures bequeathed to us by our fore father. Taking our brave men for a ride, the governor arbitrarily arrested and deported our King together with some prominent Chiefs of Ashanti without you men raising a finger. Today, he has come again to demand the Golden Stool. Gallant youth and men of our fatherland, shall we sit down to be dehumanized all the time by these rogues? We should rise and defend our heritage; it is better to perish than to look on sheepishly while the white man whose sole business in our country is to steal, kill and destroy, threatens to rob us of our Golden Stool. Arise men! And defend the Golden Stool from being captured by foreigners. It is more honorable to perish in defense of the Golden Stool than to remain in perpetual slavery. I am prepared and ready to lead you to war against the white man. 
 

 

Source: “Asante Queen Mothers in Government and Politics in the Nineteenth Century,” by Agnes Akousa Aidoo, Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, December 1977, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 12.

 

Also: Asirifi-Danquah, The Struggle: Between Two Great Queens, 1900-1901, Yaa Asantewaa and Victoria of Great Britain, (Ghana) 2007, p. 62.

 

Also: Boahen, Albert Adu, “Ghana Before the Coming of Europeans,” Ghana Social Science Journal, 1977, 4(2), 93-106. p. 118.