Turn of the Century

Anglo-Ashanti War Finale w. History of Africa Podcast

February 16, 2021
Turn of the Century
Anglo-Ashanti War Finale w. History of Africa Podcast
Chapters
Turn of the Century
Anglo-Ashanti War Finale w. History of Africa Podcast
Feb 16, 2021

The ‘History of Africa’ podcast rejoins us to discuss the FOURTH and FIFTH wars in this colonial conflict. The British had scored previous victories, but defeating the Ashanti would be dangerous and costly.

These conflicts on the Gold Coast, or modern-day Ghana, would have major implications for Africa in the 20th century. We learn about the practical and symbolic importance of these wars.

Andy is the host of the ‘History of Africa podcast’. He has been researching the Anglo-Ashanti wars in his newest season, but has also covered Egypt and Ethiopia on excellent previous seasons.

Hosted and Produced by Joseph Hawthorne

Edited by Jordan Hawthorne (surprisingly unrelated!)



Show Notes Transcript

The ‘History of Africa’ podcast rejoins us to discuss the FOURTH and FIFTH wars in this colonial conflict. The British had scored previous victories, but defeating the Ashanti would be dangerous and costly.

These conflicts on the Gold Coast, or modern-day Ghana, would have major implications for Africa in the 20th century. We learn about the practical and symbolic importance of these wars.

Andy is the host of the ‘History of Africa podcast’. He has been researching the Anglo-Ashanti wars in his newest season, but has also covered Egypt and Ethiopia on excellent previous seasons.

Hosted and Produced by Joseph Hawthorne

Edited by Jordan Hawthorne (surprisingly unrelated!)



Joseph Hawthorne:

Welcome to turn of the century, a podcast about the turn of the 20th century. I'm Joe Hawthorne, and today we're fighting through the last battles of the Anglo Ashanti wars. The history of Africa podcast rejoins us to discuss the fourth and fifth wars in this colonial conflict, the British had scored previous victories, but defeating the Ashanti would be dangerous and costly. Likewise, the once mighty Ashanti leaders have to defend their way of life and hold back the Anglo invaders. These conflicts on the Gold Coast or modern Ghana, would have major implications for Africa in the 20th century, we'll learn about the practical and symbolic importance of these wars 1 2 3 4 5... for the five wars, let's begin. Hello, everyone, I'm back here with Andy of the history of Africa podcast, we left you on the edge of your seats last time with what would happen in the third Ashanti war. Now we know that major changes are sweeping the British Empire and the Ashanti? No, this is going to be a problem in a future conflicts. Also. Fun fact, the Dutch borrow a piece of land, and then just sold it to someone else sold it to the British Empire. So Andy, can you pick back up with us? You were just talking before about industrialization and Ashanti politics. So how does the third official Ashanti war started to unroll?

Andy:

Well, we began where we left off in the last episode discussing how the Shanti responded to this. Basically, like the Dutch basically borrowing this land and then selling it to the British. And the way that they responded was by kidnapping a group of European missionaries. And basically saying to the British will release them when you give us this land back. And the British respond to that by saying, how about this will invade you and just take them back. And so the British assemble an army and basically get ready to invade Ashanti land. And I want to basically address sort of a misconception that a lot of people have about how colonization in Africa took place. But usually people perceive it as a more or less racialized divide between the armies, that they to make things Frank, they imagine that on one side, you have the British, and it's a bunch of white guys and red coats. And then you have, in this case, the Ashanti or whatever African force we're discussing, and it's a bunch of black guys. But in this case, and throughout most of the African continent, that is not true. The British army contains out of its 5000 people in the Gold Coast, exactly 80 Europeans. And that is about 500, if you include people of mixed race descent, and the rest of that is filled by primarily people from the British Caribbean colonies, and also some fonti allies. So in reality, I want you to not to picture, you know, a bunch of white guys versus a bunch of black guys. In reality, this army is fought between an army of a bunch of black guys and red coats versus a bunch of black guys who aren't in red coats, if that makes sense, right?

Joseph Hawthorne:

Yeah. And I just want to jump in real quick out of curiosity, who are these Caribbean soldiers? Why are they here? The British

Andy:

throughout their empire really make use of the various colonial people. Usually, later on in British history, this is primarily going to be people from the Indian subcontinent. Um, you know, famously in World War One, British Indian colonial troops were used throughout the colonies and wars and against the Germans and Africa and against the Ottomans in the Middle East. But in this case in Ghana, they're bringing people from their various colonies throughout the Caribbean. This is primarily Jamaica and the Bahamas, but you might see a few people who are Trinidadian or trying to think of some other British from the British Virgin Islands, maybe something like that, but primarily baja Manian and Jamaican.

Joseph Hawthorne:

That must be I mean, to put yourself in the shoes of a Jamaican guy who is suddenly fighting this conflict in Africa because the Dutch borrowed a piece of land and then sold it to someone else. It's a crazy, personal situation to imagine. So how does this proceed when you described? How do these two armies lineup what happens when they face off? Well,

Andy:

the Ashanti and the British meat and several skirmishes? Basically, when the British invade the Ashanti, military leadership knows that if they just line up and engage in attritional battle in the Ashanti manner, they'll probably lose. So instead, they try to harass the invading British lines with you know, sniper attacks and what we what might get characterized as guerrilla warfare, but not exactly I would call it more traditional Ashanti warfare, you know, that old style of that you have your seven components. But with a more decentralized and light engagement, more more characteristics focus towards that, you know, sort of hit and run light engagement, you don't line up and fight a decisive battle. And initially, this really works out well for the Ashanti, the British don't really advance much and they suffer some pretty significant losses. And in these initial battles, or skirmishes is probably a better term for it. The Ashanti seem to be winning the war pretty handily. But if you remember to last episode, we talked about how one British factory with this new industrial economy was capable of producing more guns powder and ammunition than a whole city of Ashanti craftsmen. And maybe then in the entirety of Ashanti land as a whole, that really starts to show the Ashanti ammo supplies begin to run out. And normally, if you're in an army from that era, if you're running out of ammo and powder, the other side's probably running out too. But the Ashanti leadership is, you know, just they whenever it seems like they're running low on ammunition, the British just seem to have an infinite stockpile. And there's a there's a an anecdote from this time, which is that apparently there is one shed in Accra, which is the capital of the British Gold Coast colony. There's one like basically ammo store shed or maybe shed like is a bit of a Yeah, probably warehouse is a better term warehouse or storage unit that has more ammunition and powder in it, then the entire Ashanti kingdom, just in this one warehouse. And so with the with ammo running low, the Ashanti are basically just, they're forced to retreat because they just they don't have anything to fire back at the British and in the British eventually reached the outskirts of the Ashanti, capital Kumasi, and at this point, the Ashanti are forced to they think, okay, we've retreated, and they've reached our capital, we can't keep retreating we have to try to mount a battle and it is, it is a disaster. The Ashanti are pretty much entirely out of ammo at this point. They basically have to resort to fighting hand in hand against British firearms. And it is it goes terribly for them. The British just crashed into Kumasi and they take over the city. And there's nothing the Ashanti can do because their army has just been devastated. And the British when they reach the city are really impressed I guess you could say when they reach the Ashanti royal palace I'm apparently one of the war correspondents who was writing about it said that they that this palace was rivaled only by like Buckingham in Versailles, in terms of its splendor. He was especially impressed with that they had a library in the in the palace that basically had books from like multiple languages all over the world. And he thought that was very impressive. In classic British fashion, they say, Oh, this is very impressive. This is great. Let's blow it up. They, oh, okay,

Joseph Hawthorne:

I, you know, I ran out, they were gonna say let's take it and put it in the, you know, Royal British Library that Imperial library

Andy:

is meant to. They, they they do plenty of that too. So they rigged the whole palace with explosives. They take out all the art and valuables and basically put them on a cart to London. And they they then rigged the Palace of explosives and blow it up. Like they it's it's very metaphorical, right. Yeah, I mean, it is why well, the British have a bad habit, I guess you could say, of trophy taking throughout their entire Empire. And in terms of blowing up the palace, it's basically just a way of telling the Ashanti like I don't care if you want these initial skirmishes, I don't care if we can't don't truly have the capacity to fully an extra guys yet. You guys are submissive to us now. And the Ashanti after seeing this, after seeing their palace get destroyed, not really being able to mount a defense right now are forced to sign a humiliating treaty. They forfeit all claims to the coast. And they're hit with crippling war reparations. And they, they're basically are forced to do away with any regulation are tariffs on British trade, which is a really big deal. I'll touch on that in a moment. And their force. And this is also a really big deal. they're forced to end trade with all Brit a non British merchants so they can't trade with the French or Dutch or anyone anymore at all.

Joseph Hawthorne:

This kind of reminds me of British or British and Chinese Opium Wars and dealings with China is that a good comparison is

Andy:

a great comparison. Because something that is worth noting is that the Ashanti don't technically lose any land in this treaty that they actually had control over the border still sits at the pro River. And the British domination of the shanty land takes place primarily through economics and diplomacy. And of course, in classic British fashion at the end, one thing that kind of seems positive into the treaty, so they they say the to the Ashanti, no more human sacrifice. Yeah. Okay, whatever.

Joseph Hawthorne:

I was reading somewhere that that was kind of, from the British point of view, was a justification they used for these wars is saying that it was these were wars about ending human sacrifice. Was that, like part of the propaganda?

Andy:

Yeah, the British do that a lot in Africa. Usually, it usually comes with that they'll include in a treaty, the abolition of slavery, that's the most common one. But then the human sacrifice here basically plays the same role. Um, so yeah, it's basically a way of saying this wasn't a war to try and you know, and trade regulations and put war reparations on the Ashanti? No, no, we're, we're saving the poor sacrifice victims within Ashanti land.

Joseph Hawthorne:

Gotcha. And so you know that now things are really starting to move quickly, because we were talking about conflicts right at the beginning of the 1800s. We've zoomed to the 1860s 1870s the British now, you know, it's it. I was gonna say they have the upper hand. I think that's a bit of a understatement. But so how does this kind of end game play out? You know, how do we end up with a fourth and fifth war when it seems like the British are already in such a strong position?

Andy:

Well, if you think that things are bad for the Ashanti, now, it's gonna get worse because right after the British leave, the Ashanti economy basically collapses. Um, the Ashanti state was primarily funded by tariffs on trade goods, you know, like if you export ivory or import ivory, so if you export ivory or input finished import finished goods from the British, you are basically funding the Ashanti state, but now that the British have said no more regulations or taxes on British trade in the region, the shanty state now can't fund itself. Also, the British now monopolize Ashanti exports. Officially, they already practically did with this annexation of the Dutch Gold Coast. But now it's in writing that the French version somehow shows up, you will be prosecuted if you make a deal with him. So that's a big deal. You know, you

Joseph Hawthorne:

mentioned the fact that the Dutch leaving was a big deal. And I didn't quite grasp, not just the fact that the Dutch you know, leave everyone with a kind of raw deal afterwards. But the fact that the British are the only game in town, I think, is really A big theme you're getting out here too. Oh, yeah. So keep going, how do these proceeds

Andy:

and not not just that they also have to repair the capital, which is basically been destroyed, and they need to pay war reparations, and their economy has imploded. And to make matters worse, the current Ashanti King has to face five separate rebellions between 1877 and 1883. And that last one succeeds in overthrowing him. And the Ashanti state at this point can basically no longer afford to pay for its professional army. And they move to a more local militia system, which is way inferior to the oldest shanty force. And that basically sets the stage for where the Ashanti are, when we start moving into the last official Anglo Ashanti war. And, for reasons we'll get to in a little bit, calling this one a war is a bit of a misnomer, because, well, I'll get to that in a little bit. But basically, this war is motivated by something that historians call the scramble for Africa. And that basically, in the year 18, I believe, 1880. I can't remember the exact year but there's the Berlin Conference happens where basically European powers get together and say here is where they basically divide Africa into spheres of influences and say, this is going to be British land, this is going to be French land, this is going to be German land, this is going to be Belgian land. And, you know, obviously a bunch of European guys sitting in a room doesn't make it reality. And drawing lines on the map doesn't make it reality. But in 1884, the Germans conquer togo land, which is right to the east of data. And so they're making those lines on a map into reality. And in 1887, the French began a series of prolonged wars to take over the Ivory Coast. And you know that that's not really the topic of this episode. But I recommend you look into those because those are equally fascinating as the British Army War. And the British seeing that all this going on, are now facing some pretty big anxieties. They had basically told the other European powers that like Ashanti, Lando says, within their sphere of influence. But the Ashanti is still being an independent country, the British fear that they might align with the French or Germans. And so they demand the Ashanti become a British protectorate, which is basically that they become a British puppet state, you know, you're not allowed to make any relations with other foreign countries. And your trade is completely dependent on the British. That's what they demand.

Joseph Hawthorne:

So it's, it's interesting. I'm going to jump in for a moment, because it's interesting to kind of think this through the scramble for Africa, I think, you know, we rightly think about colonization invasion. But also, the one thing that the Ashanti seemed like they can use right now is simply having more Europeans to play off the British. And that's the British is, indeed,

Andy:

that is part of what gave the Ashanti so much power earlier on in their history was that they were capable of playing the Dutch and British off each other, and usually siding with the Dutch and economic matters that really empowered them to be able to fund these large professional armies. And the British are now the only game in town, but with the French and Germans showing up in the region, that might not be the case for long. So the British frequently basically harass the king of Ashanti prempeh. And they say, hey, become our protector. And he says, No, and they say, hey, become our protector. He says, No, they say, hey, become a protectorate. And he says, Let me think about that. No. And eventually, a new colonial governor is appointed in a in the British Gold Coast called William Edward Maxwell. And this guy, William Edward Maxwell is a really big deal for shaunti land because he is not an experienced colonial governor in Africa. Rather, he was a governor previously, I believe he was an assistant governor basically the equivalent of that in British Malaysia. And in British Malaysia, they take indigenous independence a lot less seriously than they do in the British Gold Coast. Right? Like the British Don't get me wrong. They are especially not third Anglo shanty where they basically devastated the Ashanti and are trying to loosely subjugate them. But in Malaysia, the British don't even like they don't even comprehend the concept of like that there are independent countries in regions other than Europe. They just say, okay, that's land. That's a British colony. No, essentially, they, there's a lot less autonomy for the people who live there than there was in Ashanti land, for example. And so when he arrives, William Edward Maxwell, he arrives at that paradigm of, we want to do unilateral relations, you know, we want, we don't want to negotiate with the locals. We want to tell them what to do, and they do it. And this is something that he, you know, he's not done, he recognizes that if you tried to show up and do that, now, he just get laughed out of the room. So he decides that rather than negotiating a protectorate ship, he wants to crush the Ashanti, militarily, because he thinks that's the only way to get this relationship where he tells them what to do. And they do it.

Joseph Hawthorne:

He has an imperial vision

Andy:

very much. So he's sort of a new, a new British model is sort of sort of like how we talked about how the British African company collapsing was basically a turning point in the British paradigm of how they related with the local people. He's another one of those the British now, their authority goes from being like, okay, we want to dominate and have exclusive relations with the Ashanti. Two. We want to tell them what to do we want them to be a puppet. And so the British mountain invasion, and well, I shouldn't say something that's actually kind of important. First is that King trampa, recognizing that this new guy is like hell bent on making war with the Ashanti, finally buckles and says, okay, fine, we'll become a protectorate, you know, which is what the British had wanted for so long. But this new governor William Edward Maxwell just tells him, No, we don't want you to be a protectorate anymore. We want to invade you. And so the British mountain invasion, but Prussia in what can kind of be called a smart move, and a silly move at the same time, knows that he can't win. So we just TELLS US Army's not to engage. And they just don't even fire at the British. Nobody dies in this war, at least not have bullet wounds. That's why I said at the start calling was a was a bit of a misnomer. It was more like a British extended walk. You know,

Joseph Hawthorne:

kind of, maybe I'm misusing the term here. But coup de gras.

Andy:

I don't even think coup de Gries is appropriate here. It's more like a surrender. Okay,

Joseph Hawthorne:

there you go. The the war of surrender, basically, it

Andy:

shouldn't be called the fourth Anglo shaunti war should be called the first Anglo Ashanti surrender. But I did say that this is sort of a smart move, because while it seems kind of dumb initially to surrender your army, and still allow the British to march in, it does do two things. First of all, it ensures that the Ashanti don't get more of their stuff blown up and further destroy their economy. King prempeh knows that if you try to resist militarily, they just lose and the British would destroy more Ashanti property and it would just go poorly. And second of all, it's sort of denies Maxwell this overwhelming military victory that he wanted, right? Because Maxwell with this invasion really wanted to crush the Ashanti and battle and force them to become British puppets but because they can't crush them in battle, because the Ashanti say they won't play, and we won't play your game, we won't even meet you in battle, then they don't get this decisive battle that they can win. So kind of angered by this but also trying to sort of undermine Ashanti authority. Maxwell decides to basically get King cramp on some really trumped up charges where he says that he hasn't been paying his reparations fast enough. I mean, of course, he can't pay us reparations fast enough, the Ashanti states basically broke at this point. But you know, he basically gets them on saying like, you've been evading your payments of the war reparations to the British. So we're deporting you to this a show. The Seychelles are basically just an island chain all the way on the other side of Africa there in the Indian Ocean 1000s of miles away. And this is basically like it kind of reminds me of what the British did to Napoleon where they basically said like after they defeated him, okay, we're in next we're sending you all the way to St. Helena so that nobody can deal with you anymore.

Joseph Hawthorne:

Yeah, so this punishes this king, but then what does this do for the British going forward?

Andy:

Well, the British now have Ashanti as a protectorate, and they have a lot of direct control over the Ashanti state, and the Ashanti state is an absolute shambles. And the Ashanti don't believe in this concept of that, okay, our King has been deported. We should appoint a new one, because he's still the rightful king. So they just leave the golden stool empty. And Ashanti land is governed by local Lords basically, there's just no one in charge. And it's a really awkward scenario in which sort of leads us into the last Anglo Ashanti war. And, you know, if we're looking at this from the Canadian or a shaunti perspective, the protagonist of this story is a really fascinating woman named Yaa Asantewaa. Who is this? She's she was born in 1840. So she's kind of a little bit elderly. She's in her late 60s at this point. And are sorry, early 60s. My bad that I do history, not math, sorry. She's in her early 60s at this point. And she is one of the ly one of the wives of a regional Lord within the Ashanti state. And like many people within Ashanti land, especially many of the older people, she remembers when Ashanti land was still a respected power that had true independence. And like many people, she is very resentful of this new informal British rule. And so, around 1900 the British governor Maxwell retires and is replaced by a new governor and Frederick Carson. And at first, the Ashanti were probably hopeful about this replacement, right? This guy Maxwell was so hell bent on dominating the Ashanti state is now out of here. And there's new Hodgson guys in maybe we can sort of negotiate and work with him to regain some of our sovereignty, right? Wrong. Hodgson really seems uninterested in giving the Ashanti sovereignty or even taking it away, he's really interested in one thing, and that's basically looting the shaunti treasures and artifacts, like you said earlier about how the British are really interested in taking basically stuff and sending it back to the Royal museum. He is the human embodiment of that attitude. He has an obsession with Ashanti artifacts, which is first and foremost in his mind, the golden stool. A lot of sources on Hodgson, I think report that he wanted to sit in the stool. And a lot of them kind of make it out like Hodgson was just like a doofus who didn't know any better, but I have a really hard time believing it. Because of how hell bent he is on the matter. He doesn't just want to sit in the Golden Circle, he wants to basically take it and send it back to Britain is and I don't think he's doing this because he doesn't know how sacred it is to the Ashanti. I think he's doing it because he specifically does know how sacred it is to the Ashanti as kind of a final symbolic ftu to them. You know, sort of like how they once destroyed the Ashanti palace as a way of basically symbolically saying you are under British rule now whether you know it yet or not. Hodgson is basically saying to them by taking the golden stool. You are under British rule. Now you know what I know it and there's nothing you can do about it. We're gonna take your most precious artifact, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Joseph Hawthorne:

It kind of reminds me, because you're talking about how there really wasn't a central King or authority. It kind of reminds me, you know, if the United States the President was exiled, and then we didn't have a new president in the White House was just empty. And then the British for example, it just took the White House and like, you know, brought it to the Royal museum. it you know, it kind of feels like completely taking away this literal seat of power.

Andy:

Mm hmm. I would say yes. And add that even, it's even worse than that. Because remember, the the golden stool is incredibly sacred. anyone other than the king touching it is an offence punishable by death. They take that so seriously, that when they hand the golden stool over to the king, they only handle it like through a pillow and blanket because nobody else is supposed to touch it. And remember, this stool and Ashanti belief is set to contain the soul of whoever sits on it. It's sort of like how, you know how in the West we sort of view like gravestones as being like a sort of sacred thing that you don't desecrate because it like sort of hold somebody's essence in a sense, you know, it's basically like that where it's, it's that this would be more like, in my opinion, like if the British dug up and zoomed the body of George Washington, and took it to Britain to display in a museum. But like even that, I think, is underselling it a little bit. And so he hops that are really thinks that the Ashanti can't do anything about this. And he's sort of right. But they do do one thing about it, which is that someone within the Ashanti palace where it was being kept takes us And hides it. Because they hear that he wants to take it and he they say, Okay, I need to move this thing before this Hodgson guy gets his hands on it and they hide it somewhere and nobody knows where it is. And then what happens? Well from here Hodgson with his sort of interest in the stool sort of boils over into an obsession at this point. He is a he basically orders the entire British garrison within the Gold Coast colony, to basically drop what they're doing and engage in this weird Easter egg hunt for the golden school and the Ashanti are now if they couldn't get more outraged that this is incredibly outrageous. They're basically British soldiers and Alex stopping by people's houses. Hey, have you seen the you know, your most sacred artifact? We want to take it from you. So have you seen it, please let us know. Like, this has to be drumming up like so much resentment. And in response to this resentment, many of the various local lords and bureaucrats in the Ashanti gathered together at a sort of like, meeting to discuss what to do, and most are unwilling to rebel. Like they're outraged, but they're not willing to do anything about it. Because, you know, what can they do? They don't have a formal army anymore. And even when they get out of a formal army, they were defeated. So what can they possibly do? And one of the people attending this meeting is Asantewaa And she is definitely someone who is on the more rebellious side. And she gives a really famous speech, she pulls out a literal gun at this meeting fires into the air to get everyone's attention and proclaims this following speech. I want to read it just because I think it's wonderful. Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. In the brave days of Osei tutu, you would not sit down to see their king be taken to a foreign land without firing a shot. No European would have dared speak to loads of isanti the same way that the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more I cannot believe it. It cannot be. I must say this. If you the men of Ashanti will not go forward and fight. Then we the women of Ashanti will I shall call upon my fellow women, we will fight We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields. So this, she basically calls out the entire, like group of Lords in front of her and says like, Look, if you guys won't fight, you guys are cowards. And we, the ordinary women of Ashanti land will fight on your behalf because you're too cowardly. And this speech seems to spark something in that there was already all this underlying resentment. But most of the lawyers at the meeting say, okay, fine, we will help you out and we will be on your side. And we will rebel against the British and us on a wall with this new resentment channeled forms a really ragtag army that's basically composed of various locals militias, probably the best soldiers in the Army or the bodyguards of local lords. And then most of it is composed of volunteers, including like she said in her speech, a lot of women actually join in on this battle, which is unprecedented in Ashanti history. Women do hold some certain women hold something of an elevated society is like matriarchs in Ashanti land, but it is still something of a patriarchal society, you know, women taking up arms to fight on the battlefield is unprecedented. And this this army, you know, basically out of nowhere, the British barely even have word at all that there's a rebellion brewing, launches an attack on the British soldiers who are just basically scattered throughout Ashanti lands searching for the stool, and they're completely caught off guard. Because, you know, imagine you've been like, sent to like occupy Ashanti land, right? They don't have an army. It's been four years since the last war and nothing has happened. And then out of the blue, suddenly a full Ashanti army just descends on you while you're looking for a stool. I don't know about these guys, but I wouldn't piss myself.

Joseph Hawthorne:

I was and I was I was curious to why, you know, sources would go back and and claim that the governor was a bit of a fool and I can see where this narrative starts to build up because it's like, they're on this, what now seems like a foolhardy mission to all spread out and play hide and seek with the school when this army comes. So what happens to the Ashanti you know, in the fifth war, reclaim their independence? And what what's the end result?

Andy:

Well, yes and no, mostly No. Things initially look really good for the team. The Ashanti or the British troops in Ashanti land are forced into an incredibly costly retreat. They basically just like I mean, they do what I guess makes sense. They freak out and run they run to this well defended British fort in Kumasi, and the four is equipped with machine guns, artillery, and it's very well defended and very well stocked and the Ashanti rightly realize that if they try to overtake it, they'll just be expending their own lives for nothing. So instead, they sort of lay siege and they wait for an inevitable British attempt to relief to relieve this besieged army. And they figure Okay, well, when the British send relief will harass them and turn them back. And the British do end up sending a release for a relief force of about 700 men and the Ashanti do what they said they would they harass them with sniper fire, they conduct guerrilla attacks, they sabotage their supplies, they sabotage roads, and they slow their advanced dramatically. And this force, this relief force does still manage to reach a fork. But by the time they do, they're exhausted and demoralized as the men inside, they basically drop off supplies then tried to retreat back to Accra, with no capital of the British Gold Coast colony. And with about one fifth of their original of the men that they came to rescue, you know, for forfeits 80%, just simply were either too injured or just didn't want to leave the fort. And maybe they were right to not want to leave the fort. Because while this force or treat back retreats back back to the colony, the Ashanti follow them and inflict heavy casualties on them as they run. And this so far has been a huge failure on the part of the British, all they've done really is expand lives and resources and attempt to bail out these forces who are trapped in a shanty land. And they haven't actually gained anything. But and you sort of have to feel for us and Taylor, who is leading this army of rebels at the moment, she kind of knows that it's just a matter of time until she loses her plan is not to actually win this battle, because she knows she can. Her plan is more so to inflict enough of a of a damage on the British to inflict enough wounds and damage on their armies, that the British figure that fighting just isn't worth it anymore. And that the Ashanti are able to sign a peace deal that sort of somewhat recognizes their independence and gets the British to stop their search. And the British send a second really force. And by the way, all this is happening exactly at the turn of the century, the year 1900 because just it's appropriate for the turn of the century podcast right.

Joseph Hawthorne:

Cue ding ding ding, you know, Bell found thanks, you keep going. I want to figure out why not figure out I want to know what happens.

Andy:

And this this really force like the first one, it really struggles to reach Kumasi, but it's bigger and better equipped than the first one and they managed to reach it relatively unscathed, relatively high on morale, and still with a decent amount of supplies until and at this point, they're like maybe a few days outside Kumasi and the people in the fort and here fighting outside, but they're nearly not sure what's going on. They're almost out of food. And they talk and they say look, okay, if this really force doesn't arrive within five days, we're all going to starve to death. So if it's not here in five days, let's just surrender. And then two days later, the relief force arrives, which really to me illustrates just how surprisingly close of a battle This is. If the shanty forces have managed to hold off this relief horse for three more days, all 400 men the fort would have surrendered and the Ashanti basically would have this huge bargaining chip over the British. But unfortunately for shaunti that doesn't happen. And eventually, you know with this, with these two forces now linked up the British immediately go on a tear they win a series of victories against the shanty. They capture Kumasi, and begin skirmishing with the Ashanti forces in and around the countryside and low on ammunition and surprise supplies and recognizing that the situation really isn't going to improve awesome table figures. Look, we should probably just sign for peace now and hope that we can at least get something out of this. In the end, the death toll from this war despite the Ashanti basically being in shambles at the start of it is surprisingly close. The British lose about 1000 men, he shaunti moves about 2000 men and women. And again, I should point out that like like in the previous war, most of these Men are not ethnically British, most of them in this case are Nigerian from the house, that ethnic group, and with some fante, reserves and Caribbean reserves as well.

Joseph Hawthorne:

And I think that's a good place, you know, to think about the British Empire. And to think about as we wrap up these wars and the importance of this whole conflict, what is the consequence? What is the final result of the seven to five wars between Anglo and Ashanti forces? You know, what is the importance of all this, what happens in the rest is going into the 20th century?

Andy:

Well, the terms of peace agreed upon, are definitely not good for the Ashanti, the British figure, okay, we're gonna end this whole protector ship, you're a colony. Now. You're a part of the British Empire, you're not a semi semi independent part. You're just a part of us. And a Santa and every Lord who participated in the revolt was deported to say show. However, it's really hard to call this or in a shaunti defeat, because of one simple fact, which is that the war was fought for one purpose in a sense, which was to ensure that the government didn't find the golden stool. And they won because in this peace treaty, the British government agreed to end their search for the school. So did the Ashanti actually kind of win this war? Yeah, arguably, I'd say so you know that they did what they set out to do. So the legacy of this war, the war, the golden stool, is a complicated one, because well, initially, the British seem to respond with more punitive measures of more deportations and more, more taking of sovereignty. In the long shot, like in the long term, it actually convinced the British of the opposite it convinced them that the Ashanti are just an ungovernable people. And there's kind of a good reason to believe this because with no king, and no army, they still mustered a force that inflicted 1000 British casualties, which are not casualties deaths, which is, you know, more casualties in that, but 1000 deaths. And the British you know, realizing that like look, trying to punish them for this is probably just going to be worse for us in the long term and stew up more rebellions. They restore the protectorate status in 1902. And furthermore, the Ashanti in a sense, are a British colony and name only, because while they are technically a British colony, and they're still forced to trade exclusively with the British, they essentially revert back to their status and like 718, like after the third Ashanti war, where they're practically independent of British authority, believe it or not, the British only ever really intervene in extreme circumstances, like certain death penalty cases. But otherwise, if you lived in a shanty land at the time, you wouldn't really be hard pressed to forget that it was a British colony at all. And King Prem but even in 1924, the British decide look, we were kind of done holding them and say shell, our relations with the Ashanti have improved. Let's allow him to return. And I should point out to sort of a fun fact that the golden stool remains missing also until the 1920s when it is uncovered by a bunch of road workers. And in 1957, Ghana regains its independence from the British Empire with the decolonization of Africa. And the Ashanti kingdom, still remains within the Republic of Ghana. Today, I'll be as a state as a traditional monarchy, as I call it. Um, Osei and like they still, they still have like more power than you might expect for a mostly ceremonial position. For example, the current King on the Ashanti land is a man named Osei tutu the second and he's engaged in peace talks with internal crises and settle disputes over land within the Ashanti state. And while he's still a revered man, to this day, you know, it's still the Ashanti state is still alive, I'll be in a mostly ceremonial form within Ghana.

Joseph Hawthorne:

So it sounds like as we start to, again, think big picture and I put on my history teacher hat for a moment. First of all, it sounds like the wars that you're talking about having success, yes, they, they save the golden school, but also choosing to fight at this moment, did seem to create this long lasting sovereignty sense of independence in a shanty land. And so going beyond that, I'm curious, we've mentioned industrialization. We've mentioned The the Empire grab the scramble for Africa and larger geopolitical events going on. But if we're thinking about this whole Ashanti Anglos saga, what should we learn from this? You know, what lessons can we take away not just about a shanty, but about larger history of British Empire, West Africa, and events in the continent?

Andy:

Well, I'm glad you mentioned that, because there's really three things that I think that people should take away from this story of the Ashanti. And the first one, I think, is really important, because it really touches on a big misconception that people have of Africa as a whole, and especially of West Africa, which is that if you picture in your mind, you know, European colonization of Africa, people usually think of something like the Zulu war, you know, they think of an industrialized British Army, fighting against men with spears and shields. And this is entirely historical, at least when it comes to West Africa, and most other parts of Africa as well. Rather, the way I would describe it, is, it resembled a European army of the industrialized era, fighting against a European army from 1820. You know, imagine if the armies of Europe from the Napoleonic era took on the armies of Europe from the 1880s or 18 1890s. Um, so I want people to get that image out of their head of men with spears and shields getting mowed down by machine guns, because it's simply not accurate. Um, I also want people to get it out of their heads, that European armies prior to really the industrial era, were superior to African bones, because in the case of West Africa, and also in East Africa, but especially in West Africa, these European armies and West African armies were approximately equal in terms of quality, until I'd say around like 1850, is when there really starts to be a disparity. You see in various wars and the various wars that took place between Europeans and Africans prior to the 1850s. There's, the Europeans probably lose most of them. You know, there's the various wars we touched on between the Ashanti and the British and their faulty allies. There's wars between the Portuguese and a kingdom in Central Africa called Congo in which the Congolese defeat the Portuguese, there's a series of battles in East Africa won between the Portuguese and a Somali Kingdom called the Sultanate of Iran, in which the Portuguese are defeated and another one against another Somali Kingdom called the Sultanate of a doll in which the Portuguese are defeated. So I really don't want people to leave with this impression that European armies were just better than West African ones throughout most of history. Rather, I want people leave with the impression that until relatively recently, until around 1850, West African East African armies were essentially the equals of European ones. I will admit that when it comes to other aspects of military, specifically, the Navy's there was a large disparity prior to that. But in terms of terrestrial armies, they were approximately equal for a surprisingly long time. And the last thing I really want to leave on is what I think is the most important takeaway, which is that industrialization and not military superiority was the key factor in Europeans colonizing Africa, that the European colonization in the various wars that they fight in Africa, not just with the Ashanti, but in general, you see a common trend in which the African armies and the European armies initially fight to a stalemate. And then the African armies run out of ammunition and the Europeans win. It is a surprisingly consistent theme. You see it in wars that the French fight with the man think of people and you see it in wars that the that the Belgians fight in the Congo. You see it in wars in East Africa and in West Africa. And, you know, of course, we saw it with the Ashanti. So, I really want people to get it in their heads that it wasn't that the Europeans had better guns or anything like that, that really let them win the day in this in these wars of colonization. But rather, the big factor that gave them an advantage was the manufacturing of ammunition of all things. Because you know, better guns are only as good as they are if you have bullets to fire, right.

Joseph Hawthorne:

And it's so interesting that you bring that back up as you were talking about that earlier in our conversation. I'm really interested as listeners. No, in the Philippine American War at the turn of the century, and that is almost identical. It's a matter of having the bullets to fire and having, you know, some kind of manufacturing base to create the bullets to fire. So I'm so glad you brought that up that, I think is a super consistent theme in this period of time, the end of the 1800s. And going forward in manufacturing, as we know, is critical.

Andy:

Indeed, I think that in the colonial struggle, the battles are certainly a lot more dramatic, then, you know, economies of scale and modes of production, which is why they get more attention. But if you want to truly understand how colonialism works, I would recommend you put a you sorta alter your perception away from focusing on battles and wars, and focus it more on the economic angle, because that's what really allowed Europeans to win the day in the Ashanti war, and through most colonial wars throughout this period.

Joseph Hawthorne:

Yeah. Especially when you're looking at the British as well, I think they they're famous, they do that better, or did that better in their Imperial days than almost anyone? Oh, exactly.

Andy:

That's, that's a big thing I forgot to bring up is that the British, even among Europeans, part of their success came from that they had superior manufacturing capabilities to the to the Russians, which allowed them to defeat them in the Crimean War, or, you know, to the pretty much anyone else in Europe for a really long time.

Joseph Hawthorne:

Yeah. And oh, you just gave me another topic to, to think about as well, I wasn't even the Crimean War, fo some reason wasn't on my radar but you put it on there. S thank you for that. And than you also, for coming on talkin in such depth about thes conflicts that I really a learning about for the firs time. So I'm super excited Thank you again, Andy. This ha been a lot of fun. And so befor I let you go, if people lik what they heard, I mentione last episode, but I'll let yo bring it up this time. Where ca they find your amazing content

Andy:

Yes, my podcast, I run it. It's called the history of Africa. You can find it. Although if you use an app to download podcasts onto your phone, you can probably find it there. You know, Apple podcasts, Amazon, music, Spotify, overcast, whatever it is, we're on it. You can also find me at my website, history of Africa podcast.blogspot.com, which in which in addition to finding my podcast, you can also find stuff that I write about African history. And currently we're doing we're not on a season about the Ashanti yet. I'm thinking I might do that next, after what I'm doing. Right now we have a more ancient focus. We're looking at the ox somites of Ethiopia, an ancient empire that even expanded outside of Africa, one of the few African empires to really expand outside the continent. And so if that interests you, please check out the podcast, I think you'd really enjoy it. You know, a lot of people say things they say African history is really underrepresented. I wish I knew more about it. So if you want to fulfill that wish and learn a bit more about African history is a great place to find it. Well said and I'll plug myself again, if when you're done listening to the history of Africa podcast, come on back or you know, go back and forth between our podcasts. But remember to subscribe, rate review, if you haven't already. Tell your friends. And I'll just gonna say See, I often do this. I'll be with you next time. Thanks so much, Andy. was a pleasure to come on.