1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ashanti
ASHANTI, a British possession in West Africa, bounded W. by the (French) Ivory Coast colony, N. by the British Protectorate known as Northern Territories of the Gold Coast (see Gold Coast), and E. by the river Volta (which separates it from the German colony of Togoland); the southern frontier is conterminous with the northern frontier of the (British) Gold Coast colony. It forms an irregular oblong, with a triangular projection (the country of the Adansi) southward. It has an area of 23,000 sq. m., and a population estimated (1907) at 500,000.
Physical Features; Flora and Fauna.—A great part of Ashanti is covered with primeval and almost impenetrable forest. Many of the trees, chiefly silk-cotton and hardwood, attain splendid proportions, the bombax reaching a height of over 200 ft., but the monotony is oppressive, and is seldom relieved by the sight of flowers, birds or beasts. Ferns are abundant, and the mimosa rises to heights of from 30 to 60 ft. All over the forest spread lianas, or monkey-ropes, their usual position being that of immense festoons hanging from tree to tree. To these lianas (species of which yield one kind of the rubber of commerce) is due largely the weird aspect of the forest. The country round the towns, however, is cultivated with care, the fields yielding in abundance grain, yams, vegetables and fruits. In the north-eastern districts the primeval forest gives place to park-like country, consisting of plains covered with high coarse grass, and dotted with occasional baobabs, as well as with wild plum, shea-butter, dwarf date, fan palms, and other small trees. Among the wild animals are the elephant (comparatively rare), the leopard, varieties of antelope, many kinds of monkeys and numerous venomous snakes. Crocodiles and two kinds of hippopotami, the ordinary and a pygmy variety, are found in the rivers. Of birds, parrots are the most characteristic. Insect life is abundant.
About 25 m. south-east of Kumasi is Lake Busumchwi, the sacred lake of the Ashanti. It is surrounded by forest-clad hills some 800 ft. high, is nearly circular and has a maximum diameter of 6 m. The Black Volta, and lower down the Volta (q.v.), form the northern frontier, and various tributaries of the Volta, running generally in a northerly direction, traverse the eastern portion of the country. In the central parts are the upper courses of the Ofin and of some tributaries of the Prah. Farther west are the Tano and Bia rivers, which empty their waters into the Assini lagoon. In their course through Ashanti, the rivers, apart from the Volta, are navigable by canoes only. The elevation of the country is generally below 2000 ft., but it rises towards the north.
Climate.—The climate, although unsuited to the prolonged residence of Europeans, is less unhealthy than that of the coast towns of West Africa. The water-supply is good and abundant. The rainy season lasts from the end of May until October; storms are frequent and violent. The mean temperature at Kumasi is 76° F., the mean annual rainfall 40 ins.
Inhabitants.—The most probable tradition represents the Ashanti as deriving their origin from bands of fugitives, who in the 16th or 17th century were driven before the Moslem tribes migrating southward from the countries on the Niger and Senegal. Having obtained possession of a region of impenetrable forest, they defended themselves with a valour which, becoming part of their national character, raised them to the rank of a powerful and conquering nation. They are of the pure negro type, and are supposed to be originally of the same race as the Fanti, nearer the coast, and speak the same language. The separation of Fanti and Ashanti has been ascribed to a famine which drove the former south, and led them to live on fan, or herbs, while the latter subsisted on san, or Indian corn, &c., whence the names Fanti and Santi. The Ashanti are divided into a large number of tribes, of whom a dozen may be distinguished, namely, the Bekwai, Adansi, Juabin, Kokofu, Kumasi, Mampon, Nsuta, Nkwanta, Dadiassi, Daniassi, Ofinsu and Adjisu. Each tribe has its own king, but from the beginning of the 18th century the king of Kumasi was recognized as king paramount, and was spoken of as the king of Ashanti. As paramount king he succeeded to the “golden stool,” the symbol of authority among the Ashanti. After the deposition of Prempeh (1896) no king of Kumasi was chosen; Prempeh himself was never “enstooled.” The government of Ashanti was formerly a mixture of monarchy and military aristocracy. The confederate tribes were originally organized for purposes of war into six great divisions or clans, this organization developing into the main social fabric of the state. The chiefs of the clans, with a few sub-chiefs having hereditary rights, formed the King’s Council, and the king, unless of exceptionally strong character, often exercised less power than the council of chiefs, each of whom kept his little court, making a profuse display of barbaric pomp. Land is held in common by the tribes, lands unallotted being attached to the office of head chief or king and called “stool lands.” Polygamy is practised by all who can afford it. It is stated by the early chroniclers that the king of Ashanti was bound to maintain the “fetish” number of 3333 wives; many of these, however, were employed in menial services. The crown descended to the king’s brother, or his sister’s son, not to his own offspring. The queen mother exercised considerable authority in the state, but the king’s wives had no power. The system of human sacrifices, practised among the Ashanti until the closing years of the 19th century, was founded on a sentiment of piety towards parents and other connexions—the chiefs believing that the rank of their dead relatives in the future world would be measured by the number of attendants sent after them. There were two periods, called the great Adai and little Adai, at which human victims, chiefly prisoners of war or condemned criminals, were immolated. There is reason to believe that the extent of this practice was not so great as was currently reported.
There are a few Mahommedans in Ashanti, most of them traders from other countries, and the Basel and Wesleyan missionaries have obtained some converts to Christianity; but the great bulk of the people are spirit-worshippers. Unlike many West African races, the Ashanti in general show a repugnance to the doctrines of Islam.
Towns and Trade.—Besides the capital, Kumasi (q.v.), with a population of some 6000, there are few important towns in Ashanti. Obuassi, in the south-west, is the centre of the gold-mining industry. Wam is on the western border, Nkoranza, Atabubu and Kintampo in the north. Kintampo is a town of some size and is about 130 m. north-east of Kumasi. It is the meeting-place of traders from the Niger countries and from the coast. Formerly one of the great slave and ivory marts of West Africa, it is now a centre of the kola-nut commerce and a depot for government stores. The Ashanti are skilful in several species of manufacture, particularly in weaving cotton. Their pottery and works in gold also show considerable skill. A large quantity of silver-plate and goldsmiths’ work of great value and considerable artistic elaboration was found in 1874 in the king’s palace at Kumasi, not the least remarkable objects being masks of beaten gold. The influence of Moorish art is perceptible.
The vegetable products do not differ greatly from those found on the Gold Coast; the most important commercially is the rubber tree (Funtumia elastica). The nut of the kola tree is in great demand, and since 1905 many cocoa plantations have been established, especially in the eastern districts. Tobacco is cultivated in the northern regions. Gum copal is exported. Part of the trade of Ashanti had been diverted to the French port of Assini in consequence of the wars waged between England and the Ashanti, but on the suppression of the revolt of 1900 measures were taken to improve trade between Kumasi and Cape Coast. Kumasi is the distributing centre for the whole of Ashanti and the hinterland. Gold exists in the western districts of the country, and several companies were formed to work the mines in the period 1895-1901. Most of the gold exported from the Gold Coast in 1902 and following years came from the Obuassi mines. The gold output from Ashanti amounted in 1905 to 68,259 oz., valued at £254,790. The railway to Kumasi from Sekondi, which was completed in 1903, passes through the auriferous region. As far as the trade goes through British territory southward, the figures are included in those of the Gold Coast; but Ashanti does also a considerable trade with its French and German neighbours, and northwards with the Niger countries. Its revenue and expenditure are included in those of the Gold Coast. Revenue is obtained principally from caravan taxes, liquor licences, rents from government land and contributions from the gold-mining companies.
Communications.—The railway to Kumasi, cut through one of the densest forest regions, is described under Gold Coast. The usual means of communication is by tortuous paths through the forest, too narrow to admit any wheeled vehicle. A wide road, 141 m. long, has been cut through the bush from Cape Coast to Kumasi, and from Kumasi ancient caravan routes go to the chief trading centres farther inland. Where rivers and swamps have to be crossed, ferries are maintained. A favourite mode of travelling in the bush is in a palanquin borne on the heads of four carriers. Telegraph lines connect Kumasi with the coast towns and with the towns in the Northern Territories. There is a well-organized postal service.
History.—The Ashanti first came under the notice of Europeans early in the 18th century, through their successful wars with the kingdoms bordering the maritime territory. Osai Tutu may be considered as the real founder of the Ashanti Early relations with the British. power. He either built or greatly extended Kumasi; he subdued the neighbouring state of Denkera (1719) and the Mahommedan countries of Gaman (Jaman) and Banna, and extended the empire by conquests both on the east and west. At last he was defeated and slain (1731); but his successor, Osai Apoko, made further acquisitions towards the coast. In 1800, Osai Tutu Quamina, an enterprising and ambitious man, who appears early to have formed the desire of opening a communication with white nations, became king. About 1807, two chiefs of the Assin, whom he had defeated in battle, sought refuge among the Fanti, the ruling people on the coast. On the refusal of the Fanti to deliver up the fugitives, Osai Tutu invaded their country, defeated them and drove them towards the sea. The Ashanti reached the coast near Anamabo, where there was then a British fort. The governor exhorted the townsmen to come to terms and offered to mediate; but they resolved to abide the contest. The result was the destruction of the town, and the slaughter of 8000 of the inhabitants. The Ashanti, who lost over 2000 men, failed, however, to storm the English fort, though the garrison was reduced from twenty-four to eight men. A truce was agreed to, and the king refusing to treat except with the governor of Cape Coast, Colonel G. Torrane (governor 1805-1807) repaired to Anamabo, where he was received with great pomp. Torrane determined to surrender the fugitive Assin chiefs, but one succeeded in escaping; the other, on being given up, was put to death by the Ashanti. Torrane concluded an agreement with the Ashanti, acknowledging their conquest of Fantiland, and delivering up to them half the fugitives in Anamabo fort (most of the remainder were sold by Torrane and the members of his council as slaves). The governor also agreed to pay rent to the Ashanti for Anamabo fort and Cape Coast castle. The character of this man, who died on the coast in 1808, is indicated by Osai Tutu’s eulogy of him. “From the hour Governor Torrane delivered up Tchibbu [one of the Assin fugitives] I took the English for my friends,” said the king of Ashanti, “because I saw their object was trade only and they did not care for the people. Torrane was a man of sense and he pleased me much.”
In consequence of repeated invasions of Fantiland by the Ashanti, the British in 1817 sent Frederick James, commandant of Accra fort, T. E. Bowdich and W. Hutchinson on a mission to Kumasi. After one or two harmonious interviews, the king advanced a claim for the payment of the quit rents for Anamabo fort and Cape Coast castle, rents the major part of which the Fanti had induced the British to pay to them, leaving only a nominal sum for transmission to Kumasi. Mr James, the head of the mission, volunteered no satisfactory explanation, whereupon the king broke into uncontrollable rage, calling the emissaries cheats and liars. Bowdich and Hutchinson, thinking that British interests and the safety of the mission were endangered, took the negotiation into their own hands. Mr James was recalled, and a treaty was concluded, by which the king’s demands were satisfied, and the right of the British to control the natives in the coast towns recognized.
The government at home, though they demurred somewhat to the course that had been pursued, saw the wisdom of cultivating intercourse with this powerful African kingdom. They sent out, therefore, to Kumasi, as consul, Mr Joseph Dupuis, formerly consul at Mogador, who arrived at Cape Coast in January 1819. By that time fresh difficulties had arisen between the coast natives, who were supported by the British, and the Ashanti. Dupuis set out on the 9th of February 1820, and on the 28th arrived at Kumasi. After several meetings with the king, a treaty was drawn up, which acknowledged the sovereignty of Ashanti over the territory of the Fanti, and left the natives of Cape Coast to the mercy of their enemies. Mr J. Hope Smith, the governor of Cape Coast, disowned the treaty, as betraying the interests of the natives under British protection. Mr Hope Smith was supported by the government in London, which in Sir Charles M‘Carthy’s fate. 1821 assumed direct control of the British settlements. Sir Charles M‘Carthy, the first governor appointed by the crown, espoused the cause of the Fanti, but was defeated in battle by the Ashanti, the 21st of January 1824, at a place beyond the Prah called Essamako. The Ashanti had 10,000 men to Sir Charles’s 500. Sir Charles and eight other Europeans were killed. The skull of the governor was afterwards used at Kumasi as a royal drinking-cup. It was asserted that Sir Charles lost the battle through his ordnance-keeper bringing up kegs filled with vermicelli instead of ammunition. The fact is that the mistake, if made, only hastened the inevitable catastrophe. On the very day of this defeat Osai Tutu Quamina died and was succeeded by Osai Okoto. A state of chronic warfare ensued, until the Ashanti sustained a signal defeat at Dodowah on the 7th of August 1826. From this time the power of the Ashanti over the coast tribes waned, and in 1831 the king was obliged to purchase peace from Mr George Maclean, then administrator of the Gold Coast, at the price of 600 oz. of gold, and to send his son as a hostage to Cape Coast. The payment of ground rent for the forts held by the British had ceased after the battle of Dodowah, and by the treaty concluded by Maclean the river Prah was fixed as the boundary of the Ashanti kingdom, all the tribes south of it being under British protection.
The king (Kwaka Dua I.), who had succeeded Osai Okoto in 1838, was a peace-loving monarch who encouraged trade, but in 1852 the Ashanti tried to reassert authority over the Fanti in the Gold Coast protectorate, and in 1863 a war was caused by the refusal of the king’s demand for the surrender by the British of a fugitive chief and a runaway slave-boy. The Ashanti were victorious in two battles and retired unmolested. The governor, Mr Richard Pine, urged the advisability of an advance on Kumasi, but this the British government would not allow. No further fighting followed, but the prestige of the Ashanti greatly increased. “The white men” (said Kwaka Dua) “bring many cannon to the bush, but the bush is stronger than the cannon.” In April 1867 Kwaka Dua died, and after an interval of civil war was succeeded by Kofi Karikari, who on being enstooled swore, “My business shall be war.” Thereafter preparations were made throughout Ashanti to attack the Fanti tribes, and the result was the war of 1873-74.
Two distinct events were the immediate cause of the war. The principal was the transference of Elmina fort from the Dutch to the British, which took place on the 2nd of April 1872. The Elmina were regarded by the Ashanti The war of 1873-1874. as their subjects, and the king of Ashanti held the Elmina “custom-note,”—that is, he received from the Dutch an annual payment, in its origin a ground rent for the fort, but looked upon by the Dutch as a present for trade purposes. The Ashanti greatly resented the occupation by Britain of what they considered Ashanti territory. Another but minor cause of the war was the holding in captivity by the Ashanti of four Europeans. An Ashanti force invaded Krepi, a territory beyond the Volta, and in June 1869 captured Mr Fritz A. Ramseyer, his wife and infant son (the child died of privation shortly afterwards), and Mr J. Kühne, members of the Basel mission. Monsieur M. J. Bonnat, a French trader, was also captured at another place. The captives were taken to Kumasi. Negotiations for their release were begun, but the Europeans were still prisoners when the sale of Elmina occurred. The Ashanti delayed war until their preparations were complete, whilst the Gold Coast officials appear to have thought the risk of hostilities remote. However, on the 22nd of January 1873 an Ashanti force crossed the Prah and invaded the British protectorate. They defeated the Fanti, stirred up disputes at Elmina, and encamped at Mampon near Cape Coast, to the great alarm of the inhabitants. Measures were taken for the defence of the territory and the punishment of the assailants, which culminated in the despatch of Sir Garnet (afterwards Viscount) Wolseley as British administrator, £800,000 being voted by parliament for the expenses of the expedition. On landing (October 2) at Cape Coast, Wolseley found the Ashanti, who had been decimated by smallpox and fever, preparing to return home. He determined, however, to march to Kumasi, whilst Captain (afterwards Sir) John Glover, R.N., administrator of Lagos, was with a force of native levies to co-operate from the east and take the Ashanti in rear. Meanwhile the enemy broke up camp, and, although harassed by native levies raised by the British, effected an orderly retreat. The Ashanti army re-entered Kumasi on the 22nd of December. Wolseley asked for the help of white troops, and the 2nd battalion Rifle Brigade, the 23rd Fusiliers and 42nd Highlanders were despatched. Seeing the preparations made by his enemy, Kofi Karikari endeavoured to make peace, and in response to General Wolseley’s demands the European captives were released (January 1874). Sir Garnet determined that peace must be signed in Kumasi and continued his advance. On the 20th of January the river Prah was crossed by the European troops; on the 24th the Adansi hills were reached; on the 31st there was severe fighting at Amoaful; on the 1st of February Bekwai was captured; and on the evening of the 4th the victorious army was in Kumasi, after seven hours’ fighting. The king, who had led his army, fled into the bush when he saw the day was lost. As the 42nd Highlanders pushed forward to Kumasi, the town was found full of Ashanti soldiers, but not a shot was fired at the invaders. Sir Garnet Wolseley sent messengers to the king, but Kofi Karikari refused to surrender. As his force was small, provisions scarce, and the rainy season setting in, and as he was encumbered with many sick and wounded, the British general decided to retire. On the 6th, therefore, the homeward march was commenced, the city being left behind in flames. In the meantime Captain Glover’s force had crossed the Prah on the 15th of January, and the Ashanti opposition weakening after the capture of Kumasi, Glover was able to push forward. On the 11th of February, Captain (later General) R. W. Sartorius, who had been sent ahead with twenty Hausa only, found Kumasi still deserted. Captain Sartorius and his twenty men marched 50 m. through the heart of the enemy’s country. On the 12th Glover and his force of natives entered the Ashanti capital. The news of Glover’s approach induced the king, who feared also the return of the white troops, to sue for peace. On the 9th of February a messenger from Kofi Karikari overtook Sir Garnet, who on the 13th at Fomana received the Ashanti envoys. A treaty was concluded whereby the king agreed, among other conditions, to pay 50,000 oz. of gold, to renounce all claim to homage from certain neighbouring kings, and all pretensions of supremacy over any part of the former Dutch protectorate, to promote freedom of trade, to keep open a road from Kumasi to the Prah, and to do his best to check the practice of human sacrifice. Besides coloured troops, there were employed in this campaign about 2400 Europeans, who suffered severely from fever and otherwise, though the mortality among the men was slight. Seventy-one per cent of the troops were on the sick list, and more than forty officers died—only six from wounds. The success of the expedition was facilitated by the exertions of Captain (afterwards General Sir William) Butler and Captain (afterwards General W. L.) Dalrymple, who effected diversions with very inadequate resources.
One result of the war of 1873-74 was that several states dependent on Ashanti declared themselves independent, and sought British protection. This was refused, and the inaction of the colonial office contributed to the A British protectorate established. reconsolidation of the Ashanti power. Shortly after the war the Ashanti deposed Kofi Karikari, and placed on the golden stool—the symbol of sovereignty—his brother Mensa. This monarch broke almost every article of the Fomana treaty, and even the payment of the indemnity was not demanded. (In all, only 4000 oz. of gold, out of the 50,000 stipulated for, were paid.) Mensa’s rule was tyrannous and stained with repeated human sacrifices. In 1883 a revolution displaced that monarch, who was succeeded by Kwaka Dua II.—a young man who died (June 1884) within a few months of his election. In the same month died the ex-king Kofi Karikari, and disruption threatened Ashanti. At length, after a desolating civil war, Prince Prempeh—who took the name of Kwaka Dua III.—was chosen king (March 26, 1888), the colonial government having been forced to intervene in the dispute owing to the troubles it occasioned in the Gold Coast. The election of Prempeh took place in the presence and with the sanction of an officer of the Gold Coast government. Prempeh defeated his enemies, and for a time peace and prosperity returned to Ashanti. However in 1893 there was fresh trouble between Ashanti and the tribes of the protectorate, and the roads were closed to traders by Prempeh’s orders. The British government was forced to interfere, more especially as the country, by international agreement, had been included in the British sphere of influence. A mission was despatched to Prempeh, calling upon him to fulfil the terms of the 1874 treaty, and further, to accept a British protectorate and receive a resident at Kumasi. The king declined to treat with the governor of the Gold Coast, and despatched informal agents to England, whom the secretary of state refused to receive. To the demands of the British mission relative to the acceptance of a protectorate and other matters, Prempeh made no reply in the three weeks’ grace allowed, which expired on the 31st of October 1895. To enforce the British demands, to put an end to the misgovernment and barbarities carried on at Kumasi, and to establish law, order and security for trade, an expedition was at length decided upon. The force, placed under Colonel Sir Francis Scott, consisted of the 2nd West Yorkshire regiment, a “special service corps,” made up of detachments from various regiments in the United Kingdom, under specially selected officers, the 2nd West India regiment, and the Gold Coast and Lagos Hausa. The composition of the special service corps was much criticized at the time; but as it was not called upon for fighting purposes, no inferences as to its efficiency are possible. The details of the expedition were carefully organized. Before the arrival of the staff and contingent from England (December 1895) the native forces were employed in improving the road from Cape Coast to Prahsu (70 m.), and in establishing road stations to serve as standing camps for the troops. About 12,000 carriers were collected, the load allotted to each being 50 ℔. In addition, a force of native scouts, which ultimately reached a total of 860 men, was organized in eighteen companies, and partly armed with Snider rifles, to cover the advance of the main column, which started on the 27th of December, and to improve the road. The king of Bekwai having asked for British protection, a small force was pressed forward and occupied this native town, about 25 m. from Kumasi, on the 4th of January 1896. The advance continued, and at Ordahsu a mission arrived from King Prempeh offering unconditional submission. On the 17th of January Kumasi was occupied, and Colonel Sir F. Scott received the king. Effective measures were taken to prevent his escape, and on the 20th Prempeh made submission to Mr (afterwards Sir W. E.) Maxwell, the Prempeh deposed. governor of Cape Coast, in native fashion. After this act of public humiliation, the king and the queen mother with the principal chiefs were arrested and taken as prisoners to Cape Coast, where they were embarked on board H.M.S. “Racoon” for Elmina. The fetish buildings at Bantama were burned, and on the 22nd of January Bokro, a village 5 m. from Kumasi, and Maheer, the king’s summer palace, were visited by the native scouts and found deserted. On the same day, leaving the Hausa at Kumasi, the expedition began the return march of 150 m. to Cape Coast. The complete success of the expedition was due to the excellent organization of the supply and transport services, while the promptitude with which the operations were carried out probably accounts in great measure for the absence of resistance. Although no fighting occurred, a heavy strain was thrown upon all ranks, and fever claimed many victims, among whom was Prince Henry of Battenberg, who had volunteered for the post of military secretary to Colonel Sir F. Scott.
After the deportation of Prempeh no successor was appointed to the throne of Ashanti. A British resident, Captain Donald W. Stewart, was installed at Kumasi, and whilst the other states of the confederacy retained their king and Siege and relief of Kumasi. tribal system the affairs of the Kumasi were administered by chiefs under British guidance. Mr and Mrs Ramseyer (two of the missionaries imprisoned by King Kofi Karikari for four and a half years) returned to Kumasi, and other missionaries followed. A fort was built in Kumasi and garrisoned with Gold Coast constabulary. Though outwardly submissive, the Kumasi chiefs were far from reconciled to British rule, and in 1900 a serious rebellion broke out. The tribes involved were the Kumasi, Adansi and Kokofu; the other tribes of the Ashanti confederation remained loyal. The rebels were, however, able to command a force reported to number 40,000. On the 28th of March, before the rebellion had declared itself, the governor of the Gold Coast, Sir F. Hodgson, in a public palaver at Kumasi, announced that the Ashanti chiefs would have to pay the British government 4000 oz. of gold yearly, and he reproached the chiefs with not having brought to him the golden stool, which the Kumasi had kept hidden since 1896. Three days afterwards the Kumasi warriors attacked a party of Hausa sent with the chief object of discovering the golden stool. (In the previous January a secret attempt to seize the stool had failed.) The Kumasi, who were longing to wipe out the dishonour of having let Prempeh be deported without fighting, next threatened the fort of Kumasi. Mr Ramseyer and the other Basel missionaries, and Sir F. and Lady Hodgson, took refuge in the fort, and reinforcements were urgently asked for. On the 18th of April 100 Gold Coast constabulary arrived. On the 29th the Kumasi attacked in force, but were repulsed. The same day a party of 250 Lagos constabulary reached Kumasi. They had fought their way up, and came in with little ammunition. On the 15th of May Major A. Morris arrived from the British territory north of Ashanti, also with 250 men. The garrison now numbered 700. The 29 Europeans in the fort included four women. Outside the fort were gathered 3000 native refugees. Famine and disease soon began to tell their tale. Sir F. Hodgson sent out a message on the 4th of June (it reached the relieving force on the 12th of June), saying that they could only hold out to the 11th of June. However, it was not till the 23rd of June that the governor and all the Europeans save three, together with 600 Hausa of all ranks, sallied out of the fort. Avoiding the main road, held by the enemy in force, they attacked a weakly held stockade, and succeeded in cutting their way through, with a loss of two British officers mortally wounded, 39 Hausa killed, and double that number wounded or missing. The governor’s party reached Cape Coast safely on the 10th of July.
A force of 100 Hausa, with three white men (Captain Bishop, Mr Ralph and Dr Hay), was left behind in Kumasi fort with rations to last three weeks. Meantime a relief expedition had been organized at Cape Coast by Colonel James Willcocks. This officer reached Cape Coast from Nigeria on the 26th of May. The difficulties before him were appalling. Carriers could scarcely be obtained, there were no local food supplies, the rainy season was at its height, all the roads were deep mire, the bush was almost impenetrable, and the enemy were both brave and cunning, fighting behind concealed stockades. It was not until the 2nd of July that Colonel Willcocks was able to advance to Fumsu. On the next day he heard of the escape of the governor and of the straits of the garrison left at Kumasi. He determined to relieve the fort in time, and on the 9th of July reached Bekwai, the king of which place had remained loyal. Making his final dispositions, the colonel spread a report that on the 13th he would attack Kokofu, east of Bekwai, and this drew off several thousands of the enemy from Kumasi. After feinting to attack Kokofu, Colonel Willcocks suddenly marched west. There was smart fighting on the 14th, and at 4.30 p.m. on the 15th, after a march since daybreak through roads “in indescribably bad condition,” the main rebel stockade was encountered. It was carried at the point of the bayonet by the Yoruba troops, who proved themselves fully equal to the Hausa. “The charge could not have been beaten in élan by any soldiers.” Kumasi was entered the same evening, a bugler of the war-worn garrison of the fort sounding the “general salute” as the relieving column came in view. Most of the defenders were too weak to stand. Outside the fort nothing was to be seen but burnt-down houses and putrid bodies. The relieving force that marched into Kumasi consisted of 1000 fighting men (all West Africans), with 60 white officers and non-commissioned officers, two 75-millimetre guns, four seven-pounder guns and six Maxims.
Kumasi relieved, there remained the task of crushing the rebellion. Colonel Willcocks’s force was increased by Yaos and a few Sikhs from Central Africa to a total of 3368 natives, with 134 British officers and 35 British non-commissioned officers. In addition there were Ashanti levies. On the 30th of September the Kumasi were completely beaten at Obassa. Thereafter many of the rebel chiefs surrendered, and the only two remaining in the field were captured on the 28th of December. Thus 1901 opened with peace restored. The total number of casualties during the campaign (including those who died of disease) was 1007. Nine British officers were killed in action, forty-three were wounded, and six died of disease. The commander, Colonel Willcocks, was promoted and created a K.C.M.G.
By an order in council, dated the 26th of September 1901, Ashanti was formally annexed to the British dominions, and given a separate administration under the control of the governor of the Gold Coast. A chief commissioner Progress under British administration. represents the governor in his absence, and is assisted by a staff of four commissioners and four assistant commissioners. A battalion of the Gold Coast regiment is stationed in the country with headquarters at Kumasi. The order in council mentioned, which may be described as the first constitution granted Ashanti by its British owners, provides that the governor, in issuing ordinances respecting the administration of justice, the raising of revenue, or any other matter, shall respect any native laws by which the civil relations of any chiefs, tribes or populations are regulated, “except so far as they may be incompatible with British sovereignty or clearly injurious to the welfare of the natives themselves.” After the annexation of the country in 1901 the relations between the governing power and the governed steadily improved. Mr F.C. Fuller, who succeeded Sir Donald Stewart as chief commissioner early in 1905, was able to report in the following year that among the Ashanti suspicion of the “white man’s” ulterior motives was speedily losing ground. The marked preference shown by the natives to resort to the civil and criminal courts established by the British demonstrated their faith in the impartial treatment awarded therein. Moreover, the maintenance of the tribal system and the support given to the lawful chiefs did much to win the confidence and respect of a people naturally suspicious, and mindful of their exiled king.
- The exact area of dense forest land is unknown, but is estimated at fully 12,000 sq. m.
- An attempt was made late in 1875, by the despatch of Dr V. S. Gouldsbury on a mission to Eastern Akim, Juabin and Kumasi, to repair the effects of the previous inaction of the colonial government, but without success.