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More than five decades after his death, a book on the History of Ashanti, authored by Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, has finally been launched in Kumasi.
The book, edited by Prof. Tom McCastie, a professor of Asante History at the Centre of West African Studies of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, is an autobiography of the 14th Asantehene, who reigned from 1931 to 1970.
The book launch formed part of activities marking the 150th commemoration of the Sagrenti War and the silver jubilee of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, who launched the book, said it would bridge the gap in Ashanti history and also serve as a research material on Ashanti history.
He said there had been books on the history of Ashanti but none was as comprehensive as the one authored by the late Otumfuo and edited by one of the foremost experts on Asante history.
He appealed to authors of children’s books to consider writing children’s versions of the book to benefit the readers.
The Education Minister stated that the book was a comprehensive history of the Ashanti Kingdom which should be on the shelves of every library in the country.
Prior to the book launch, there was a symposium on the 150th anniversary of the Sagrenti War, which was fought between the British Colonial Army and the Ashantis.
The Kumasi Centre for National Culture staged a play written by Emmanuel Jewel Peprah Mensah to depict the war.
The stage play was to give the audience an idea about the war that happened and the havoc it left in its wake.
Sharing his views on the war, Prof. McCastie said the war came about because of the growing supremacy of the then Asante Confederacy, which was considered a threat to the British colonialists who had to seek the support of other tribes to enable them to conquer the Ashantis.
He stated that aside from the royal ornaments that were stolen from the palace, the British soldiers also looted gold and gold dust kept by the then Asantehene Otumfuo Kofi Karikari, estimating the value of the gold stolen to be worth more than £2billion.
Prof. McCastie said some of the items stolen from the palace were still on display in museums in the UK and cited a brass basin used for spiritual cleaning, which is still at the Military Museum in London.
Brave Asante women
A discussant at the symposium, Prof. Eugenia Anderson of the History and Political Studies Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) eulogised the contributions of Asante women in the war and the sustenance of the Asante kingdom.
She said although women of child-bearing age did not play much role at the frontline of the war due to socio-cultural barriers, those advanced in age were allowed to play an active role in the socio-political life of the kingdom.
Prof.Anderson cited the role played by three Asante queenmothers, namely Afia Kobi, Nana Yaa Akyaa and Yaa Asantewaa, stressing how instrumental they were in protecting the golden stool.
Source: Graphic Online