Ghana was never as peaceful as it is today. In fact, the journey to political stability started way back even before Independence in 1956.
Written history dating back to the 1800s shows how our ancestors waged bloody wars between themselves and colonial masters all in the thirsty search for political freedom.
For those of us who read history at high school or university, you may remember some of these battles including the most famous Yaa Asantewaa War.
In this article, we shall be exploring some 7 popular wars of the 19th Century which shaped the landscape of culture and politics in Ghana.
1. Yaa Asantewaa War
This popular war is also called the War of the Golden Stool. It happened in 1900. It is documented to be the final bloody and massive war between Ashantis and the British Colony.
It all started when the British Imperial Government of the Gold Coast demanded that the Ashantis surrender the Golden Stool to them. This stool was and continues to be the throne and symbol of the Ashanti Region.
The demand for the Golden Stool by the British ignited the anger of the Ashanti Kingdom whose King, Prempeh 1, had been in exile. The only queen of Ejisu, Yaa Asantewaa, took it upon herself to lead the battle against the British.
Unfortunately, Yaa Asantewaa lost the war leading to the arrest of chiefs including the Queen Mother of Ejisu, Yaa Asantewaa, who got exiled to the Seychelles, for 25 years.
2. Sagrenti War
Originally called the “Sir Garnet Wolseley War”, the Sagrenti War happened between 1873 to 1874 between the Asantes and the British Empire. An army under Sir Garnet Wolseley crossed the Pra River into the Asante territory.
The war was called “Sagrenti War” mainly because Ghanaians could not pronounce the name Sir Garnet. The British force, this time proved too strong for the Asante who, after a long and tough fight, agreed to sign a peace treaty at Fomena.
At about the same time the British defeated the Anlo people in the Volta area. On the 12th of September, 1874, the whole of Southern Ghana including Anloland became a British colony.
3. Ashanti-Fante war of 1806
This was a fierce war between the Ashanti and Fante Confederacy. The disagreement between the Ashantis and Fantes is documented to have grown more severe during the start of the 19th century.
It all started when the Asantehene of the Ashanti punished some people for robbing graves. But these charged persons were granted refuge by the Fantes. This led to a war between the Fantes and Ashantis resulting in the loss of over a 1000 lives.
4. Ga-Fante war of 1811
The Ga-Fante war in 1811 was an intense tribal war which continued for years between the Gas and Fates who were also fighting against the friends of both tribes.
The Asante won the pitched battle, but then had to retreat in the face of the guerrilla tactics used by the Akwapim in the Akwapim Hills, where the Asante had the disadvantage of not knowing the terrain so well. Akwapim, battled also against the Europeans by conquering Dutch fort at Apam and a British one at Tantamkweri.
5. Battle of Nsamankow
The Battle of Nsamankow happened in 1824. It was a first fierce war between British colonial forces and the Ashanti Empire The British force under Charles McCarthy was defeated by an Ashanti force. It is unknown who won this battle but written history shows that 80 British troops were outnumbered by over 10,000 troops.
6. Battle of Amoaful
The Battle of Amoaful was a battle fought on 31 January 1874 during the Third Anglo-Ashanti War when Sir Garnet Wolseley defeated the Ashantis after strong resistance. The attack was led by the 42nd Regiment of Foot. At Amoaful, one combat post-mortem pays tribute to the Ashanti commander:
“The great Chief Amankwatia was among the killed. Admirable skill was shown in the position selected by Amankwatia, and the determination and generalship he displayed in the defense fully bore out his great reputation as an able tactician and gallant soldier.” Lance-Sergeant Samuel McGaw won the Victoria Cross during the action.