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ASANTE GYAMAN WAR: Asante strategies to incorporate states into an emerging Asante Empire included invasions.

ASANTE GYAMAN WAR: Asante strategies to incorporate states into an emerging Asante Empire included invasions. Asante strategies to incorpora...


ASANTE GYAMAN WAR: Asante strategies to incorporate states into an emerging Asante Empire included invasions. www.EweGhana.Net
ASANTE GYAMAN WAR: Asante strategies to incorporate states into an emerging Asante Empire included invasions.

Asante strategies to incorporate states into an emerging Asante Empire included invasions. The first Asante invasion of Bono states occurred in 1712 with an attack on Old Wankyi. Around 1722, Asante attacked Bono state and the two most important towns of the Bono state, Manso and Takyiman were sacked and burnt down. In 1731, Asante army attacked Gyaman because the city lay on the trade route to the northern markets, and was a rival of Asante in the trade to the north.

In the 19th century Gyaman opposed Asante rule which led to protest and revolts against Asante in 1752,1756 and 1801. After Asante crushed Gyaman revolts, Gyaman became loyal to Asante in the payment of annual tribute. Before the Asante Gyaman war of 1818, Gyamanhene Kwadwo Adinkra paid an annual tribute of about 1000 predwan, besides large piece of rock gold and farm products.

 It’s believed that Gyaman supported Asante despite the significant cases of indignities and subordination. Adinkra, their chief, established friendly relations with Asantehene Nana Osei Bonsu. In 1801, Gyaman claims to have been led by Adinkra to help Asante fight Gonja and Bouna (A state in modern day Ivory Coast) who were part of Asante northeastern territories.

The military co-operation between Adinkra and Nana Osei Bonsu provided sufficient proof of the very cordial relations between the two states of Gyaman and Asante in the period of 1818. Asantehene Nana Osei Bonsu helped Kwadwo Adinkra to maintain his position on the Gyaman throne and as a result of this this Adinkra fought in the Asante war with the Fante in 1807-1817. Indeed, for a greater part of his reign, Adinkra remained a loyal vassal state of Asante.

Asante Gyaman cooperation however, came under strain in 1817. In September, 1817, Bowdich reports that relations between Asante and Gyaman rulers were cold. Gyaman eventually revolted in December of that year. The revolt against Asante which resulted in war known as Asante Adinkra war, was the result of two factors.

Firstly, Adinkra reneged on payment of the Gyaman tribute to Kumase, because in addition to tribute, Asante demanded Gyaman’s Golden stool. Secondly, Adinkra was confident of military support from Kong and therefore diverted to Kong the tribute he was to pay to Asante and his alleged offer of the tribute to Kong as defiance of the Asante authority. The alleged alliance between Gyaman and Kong threatened Asante because Kong and Asante were rivals.

Asante regarded the fabrication of the Gyaman stool as an act of gross arrogance by Adinkra and a proof of his ambition to become great and powerful as the Asantehene. In the Asante confederacy, the Asantehene was the only king permitted to possess and sit on a stool decorated with gold. The carving of the Golden stool, and Adinkra’s refusal to pay tribute violated Asante constitution. Asante therefore took the step to dispossess Gyaman of the stool.
In 1818, Adinkra surrendered the stool to Kwame Butuakwa, an Asante commissioner who was sent to demand it. This displeased some of Adinkra’s subjects and according to Bowdich, Adinkra’s sister who was away when the Gyaman stool was surrendered became enraged on her return. She considered Adinkra a coward and reprimanded him severely. Adinkra sought to placate her by ordering another Golden stool to made to replace the one surrendered to Asante. When news of the new Golden stool reached Kumase, the Asantehene again sent messengers to demand it together with an accumulated tribute of about 1000 ounces of gold. This second demand is said to have infuriated Adinkra who refused to surrender the stool and placed the Asantehene’s messengers under arrest. In anger, Adinkra ordered the ears of the Asante messengers to be cut off and all Asante in Gyaman to be thrown into Gyaman gold pits.

By 1818, both Asante and Gyaman had made preparations for war. In Asante, Nana Osei Bonsu is reported to have ordered military uniforms, guns and gunpowder from English, Dutch and the Danes for himself and his army during late 1817 and early 1818. Sacrifices were made to the Asante deities and Asantehene also solicited help and support from Taakora (Tano god) for the war. Muslims in Kumase were asked to pray for the king’s success in the Gyaman campaign. Adinkra could only obtain a limited quantity of arms and ammunition from the English in Cape Coast, and failed to obtain supplies from the other Europeans. These European traders had established very good relations with Asante and were not ready to assist Gyaman fight Asante. Consequently, Asante is believed to have turned down the Gyaman offer of 400 bendas, an equivalent of £ 3200. Adinkra was able to recruit about 140,000 men from Gyaman, Kong, Bourna and other neighbouring states. This army was prepared to fight an equally large army of 80,000 men from metropolitan Asante, Akuapem, Akwamu, Akyem Abuakwa, Akyem Bosome and Akyem Kotoku and several thousand others mobilized by the muslims in Asante and put under Asantehene Kramo or Ohene Kramo (A personal Imam for Asantehene) who was also the spiritual head of muslims in Kumase.

The Asante army first encountered the Gyaman army on the Gyaman frontier in February 1818. The two forces fought on the banks of River Tain. The Gyaman army fought gallantly and showed that they were skillful and courageous fighters. They are said to have attacked and killed several forces and successfully pushed the rest away from the Gyaman territory although the army under Kwame Amankwaatia routed the Gyaman forces. When it seemed that Gyaman had won the war, Bantamahene Amankwaatia, the Asante war commander is said to have consulted Kokofu, Dwaben and Akyem Bosome chiefs to adopt a new strategy. Nana Kokofuhene sent messengers to the Asantehene that he was thirsty and needed some water to drink. Asantehene ordered some of the warriors to send sixty (60) calabashes full of water to him. 

When kokofuhene received the water he poured it out and send another message that he needed water from the river Tain to quench his thirst. He said the king should permit him to penetrate the Gyaman forces in order to go and drink from the river. With the help of their armies, the Asante army crossed the Tain river and routed the Gyaman force. This deed by the Kokofuhene earned him the appellation “Oko tware asuo” meaning “he who fights to cross the river”.


Some Gyaman were killed; some managed to escape from the battle front to Kong; and about five thousand others including Tamia, Adinkra’s sister, and Appau, his son was taken captive to Kumase. According to oral tradition Bremanhene Nana Ano Kwaku got hold of the hands of Appau Adinkra’s son, and asked him the whereabouts of his father, and threatened that if he refused to tell him he would have his head cut off.

So Appau directed the Asante army to the hiding place of his father Kwadwo Adinkra who was captured instantly and beheaded and his gold was taken away. The Gyaman stool was said to have been captured and the state completely defeated.

Adinkra’s death did not end the Asante Gyaman war. The Gyaman men who took refuge in Kong territory reorganized and returned immediately with troops sent by Kong to fight the Asante forces. This compelled Asante to remain in Gyaman till 1819, when they returned to Kumase by then the political atmosphere in Gyaman had returned to normal.

 However, Asante assumed full and undisputed control over the sovereignty of Gyaman. An ɔhwɛsoni (Personal representative) of the Asantehene who from then jointly ruled Gyaman with Adinkra’s successor, who was chosen according to custom from the Zanzan ruling house. 

A lot of people in the 21st may think Asantes were just a warlike people, using their superiority to abuse other states, but that was not the case in the olden days. The reasons why the Asante Kingdom were waging to free themselves from bondage eg. Denkyira war, to punish people for wrong doing against the Asante nation eg. Asante Fante war in 1807, other wars were waged to extend the Asante nation, they waged wars to get slaves to sell.

Please note and understand that, Asante recognized the fact that before a nation can be strong and famous she has to be rich. Asante nation needed ammunition for wars or for defense and also to unite all states especially the Akans, to form a vast Kingdom under the Asantehene.

Credits: Kofi Frimpong( The Kingdom of Asante)

Flyer Designed By: EO Ntiamoah ( The Kingdom Of Asante )

                 REFERENCES
Wilks Ivor. (1975). Asante in the Nineteenth Century, the Structure and Evolution of a Political Order. London; Cambridge University Press.
Bowdich . T. E.(1819). Mission from cape Coast to Ashantee. London: W Bulmer and Co.

Boahen, A.A (1975). Ghana Evolution and Change in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. London; Longman.
Dupuis J. (1924). A Journal of a residence of Ashantee. London; W. Bulmer and Co.

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EweGhana.Net Inspiring Our Culture: ASANTE GYAMAN WAR: Asante strategies to incorporate states into an emerging Asante Empire included invasions.
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