4 pre-colonial African armies that couldn’t be cracked for centuries

Farida Dawkins September 28, 2018

Yaa Asantewaa…Adonis Diaries

Ashanti Army

The Ashanti or Asante Empire thrived in modern day Ghana from 1670 to 1957. The word Asante translates into “because of war.”

The Ashanti King Osei Tutu along with his advisor, Okomfo Anokye established the empire using the Golden Stool as a sign of unification.

In 1670, King Osei and Anokye battled the Denkyira in the Battle of Feyiase.

The king consolidated independent states within Ghana to form the empire.

The Ashanti army was adept at defeating surrounding opposing forces and using prisoners of war as slaves to fuel the Gold Coast slave trade.

Akan/Denkyira warrior circa the 15th or 16th century…Historum

The army gained weaponry from Dutch forces emulating formation and battle styles they learned from the Europeans. Prior to the former, they used spears, arrows and swords also called Akrafena.

The army was a combination of an infantry force separated into five parts: the main body, a vanguard and rearguard and right and left flanking forces. This included recruited northern troops.

Ashanti Kingdom soldier, c. 1824…Joseph Dulpuis, Journal of a residence in Ashantee

One distinct feature of the military was that it included medical units.

Beside Yaa Asantewaa, another military member – Adu Bofo brought prestige to the Ashanti army.

Asante warriors…Face2Face Africa

Bofo, the army’s general was dubbed as one of greatest military generals ever known in the great Ashanti history of Ghana.

After his father manipulated Osei Bonsu, the king at the helm in 1811, Bofo and his sibling were afforded an opportunity to be eligible for the office of Gyasewa stool. Subsequently, Adu Bofo became the fifth successor to the Gyasewa stool.

Thus, Bofo was instrumental in expanding the power of the Ashanti’s, a calculated fight against the British who were also doing the same. He stuck out as a fierce fighter during the Krepi war Campaign in the Volta Region of Ghana.

The Ashantis also waged battle with the Anum and wielded power during the Battle at Abutia.

During his tenure, Bofo became a very powerful entity to the army by invading the British protected territories and successfully freeing a lot of Ashanti captives and capturing  British officials.

Many scholars have recorded the trouble that his army brought invading settlements under the British.

The Ashanti Kingdom army engaged with British forces on July 11, 1824…Ole Justesen: Danmarks Historie: Kolonierne i Asien og Afrika, Politikens Forlag, Kobenhavn 1980

In 1902, the kingdom was established as a protectorate of Britain after its defeat and exile of King Prempeh I, Yaa Asantewaa and other important chief and their families to Seychelles.


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