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Unit 4: Nationalism, Industrialism, and Imperialism

Lesson C: European Division of the African Continent

Activity 8: Conflict and Resistance in Africa — Asante

West Africa (the Gold Coast)

In the 19th century, Great Britain gained control of Ghana. This West African land was controlled by the Asante. The Asante created an empire of over three million people. Its army included 200,000 men, making it the second largest army in Africa (with Ethiopia having the largest). After the British first made contact with the Asante, there was harmony between the two, as they were interested in gaining wealth through mutual trade. As the British tried to claim more land, however the Asante were willing to fight to protect their land. The Asante had a large supply of weapons, but after many wars with the British, the Asante were finally defeated.

With this background information, examine the image of the Asante in his war dress along with the quotation from Kwaku Dua III, leader of the Asante.

ashanti in war dress, 1819

Ashanti in War Dress, 1819 [1]

"The suggestion that Ashanti [Asante] in its present state should come and enjoy the protection of Her Majesty the Queen [of England] and Empress of India, I may say this is a matter of serious consideration, and which I am happy to say we have arrived at the conclusion, that my kingdom of Ashanti will never commit itself to any such conclusion, that Ashanti must remain independent as of old, at the same time to remain friendly with all white men. I do not write this with a boastful spirit, but in the clear sense of its meaning. Ashanti is an independent kingdom." [2]


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Written Activity - Notebook

In your notebook, respond to the following questions.

  • Why do you think the Asante leader did not want to be a part of the British Empire? Why would he describe it as a "serious consideration?"
  • How might an Asante view the image? Why?
  • How might a British official view the image? Why?


Page Notes:

[1] This image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ashanteewarcaptain.jpg is in the public domain.

[2] KWAKU DUA III [leader of the Asante], December 27, 1889