By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Yaa Asantewaa was born in 1840 in Besease (a town in central Ghana), she was the daughter of a man named Kwaku Ampoma and a woman named Ata Po. Her brother was a man named Afrane Panin, he would become a chief of the people in a local community called Edweso. As she entered womanhood, she grew crops on her land and would enter into a polygamous marriage, (which was not uncommon for regal or wealthy men) with a man from the Asante captiol city of Kumasi.
During the rule of her brother, Yaa Asantewaa witnessed the Asante Kingdom (formerly the Asante Empire), go through a major decline. Which was the result of it’s five year civil war (1883-1888), and the Asante’s long on-and-off bloody conflict with the British Empire. After the death of her brother in 1894, Asantewaa utilized her power and influence as Queen Mother to nominate her grandson as Ejisuhene (King/chief of Ejisu, a city near the Asante capitol city of Kumasi). In 1896, Yaa Asantewaa became regent of the Ejisu-Juaben district, after the British exiled her grandson, the Asante King, Prempeh l and several other nobles and government officials to the Seychelles Islands. Sir Frederick Mitchell Hodgson, who was the British governor-general of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), demanded the Golden Stool . which was and is believed by traditionalist to hold the soul of the Asante kingdom. The demeaning demand by the British led to a secret meeting with the highest remaining Asante officials. In the meeting there was a disagreement on rather or not to give the Golden Stool (the physical representation of the soul of the Asante Kingdom) to centuries-old enemy the British, for their exiled Asante officials and nobels. During the meeting Yaa Asantewaa stood up and gave a speech to the members of the Asante council:
How can a proud and brave people like the Asante sit back and look while whitemen took away their king and chiefs, and humiliated them with a demand for the Golden Stool. The Golden Stool only means money to the whitemen; they have searched and dug everywhere for it. I shall not pay one predwan to the governor. If you, the chiefs of Asante, are going to behave like cowards and not fight, you should exchange your loincloths for my undergarments (Montu mo danta mma me na monnye me tam).
To add seriousness and dramatic affect to her words, Asantewaa picked up a rifle and fired it in front of the other council members. Yaa Asantewaa would be chosen by one of the regional kings of the Asante kingdom to be a leader/commander of an Asante battalion. She would lead an armed-force of 5,000 men in war against the British empire
In March of 1900, the Asante laid siege to a British fort at Kumasi, where the British sought refuge. After several months more months of back-and-forth conflict, the British governor of the Gold Coast would send an elite, well-trained and equipped force of 1400 soldiers to put down the African rebellion. Yaa Asantewaa and about fifteen of her most trusted advisors and confidants would be captured by the British and exiled to Seychelles. Yaa Asantewaa’s military defeat would mark the end of the series of wars between the Asante and the British, which took place from 1823 to 1900. In January of 1902, the British would annexe the territory of the Asante empire, and made it a protectorate of the British crown. On October 17, 1921, Nana Yaa Asantewaa died in exile on the Seychelles Islands. Three years later, on December 17, 1924, King Prempeh l and other members of the Asante royal court were allowed to return to Asante (at the time a British colony). Prempeh l, would make sure that the remains of his grandmother, Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa received a proper royal burial. A little over 30 years after her death, her dream of an Asante independent of British colonial rule would be achieved when the Asante kingdom (now-part of the Republic of Ghana), won its independence on March 6, 1957. Ghana would be the first sub-saharan African nation to accomplish this feat.
Nana Yaa asantewaa is a revered figure in the history of Asante and Ghana, for her role as a strong and empowering woman, who confronted European domination and oppression. She is remembered in this Asante song:
Koo koo hin kooYaa Asantewaa ee!Obaa basiaOgyina apremo ano ee!Waye be egyaeNa Wabo mmode(“Yaa AsantewaaThe woman who fights before cannonsYou have accomplished great thingsYou have done well”)
A week-long centenary celebration was held in her honor in Ghana in 2000, to acknowledge her accomplishments as Queen Mother and her role as a freeddom fighter against British imperialism.
EXTERNAL EDUCATION RESOURCES
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Taharqa was a Pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt and a Qore (King) of the Nile Kingdom to the south, Kush (Nubia). He was the son of Pharaoh Piye, the ancient Nubian king who conquered Egypt and created the 25th Dynasty of Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin of Pharaoh Shebitku, whom he succeeded as Pharaoh.
Pharaoh Taharqa’s time on the throne is estimated to be between the time period of 690 BC to 664 BC. Although Taharqa’s united Kushite/Egyptian empire was in constant bloody conflict with Assyrians (early on in his reign, Pharaoh Taharqa supported Palestine ’s resistance against King Sennacherib of Assyria), the time of his reign also saw a flourishing renaissance in Kushite/Egyptian civilization. Pharaoh Taharqa and the other Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty resuscitated Nile Valley culture, religion, architecture and arts. It is believed that Pharaoh Taharqa and the 25th Dynasty helped restore the Egyptian society, culture and architecture to that of its glory days of the Old, Middle and New Kingdom levels. Pharaoh Taharqa would build new temples and restored old Temples to their previous glory. The 25th Dynasty also saw massive construction of new pyramids, especially in the Kush/Nubia region (modern-day Sudan).
TAHARQA IN THE BIBLE
Many scholars believe that Pharaoh that Pharaoh Taharqa is the Ethiopian (Kush/Nubian) known in the bible as “Tirhakah”. The King who waged war against Sennacherib, who was king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9).
ANCIENT ARTIFACTS OF PHARAOH TAHARQA
Britannica article on Taharqa
Wikipedia article on Taharqa
By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Shaka KaSenzangakhona, (better-known-as Shaka Zulu), was born in July of 1787 in Mthethwa Paramountcy (sometimes called the Mthethwa Empire). He was the son of Senzangakhona Kajama (who was a chief of the Zulu clan). Because he was viewed by some as an illegitimate son to Sebzangakhona Kajama (because his parents were of the same clan), Shaka spent much of his adolescents in the community of his mother. There he joined an Ibutho Iempi, which was a militia unit, where he would be under the command of Dingiswayo, (king of the Kingdom of Mthethwa).
As Shaka gained experience in warfare and his knowledge in military strategy grew, Shaka used his new found skills to improve the military system of the Ibutho. Knowing that warfare is also about building alliances, Shaka used the support and influence of the empire of Mthethwa to form necessary alliances with neighboring kingdoms and tribes to combat the powerful Ndwandwe nation (which consisted of a people who spoke the Bantu Nguni language). When possible Shaka preferred to use diplomacy rather than combat to the death, but he wasn’t opposed to ordering political assassinations when required.
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
When Shaka’s father,Senzanakhona died in 1816, Shaka’s younger half-brother Sigujana (who was seen by some people as a more legitimate heir),became the new chieftain of the Zulu clan. Dingiswayo, Shaka’s mentor would use this time of slight succession uncertainty to put his prized pupil on the throne. Dingiswayo, would give Shaka a military brigade, which he would use to perform a fairly peaceful and relatively bloodless coup d’etat on the Zulu chiefdom. However, in the military takeover of Zululand, Shaka would have his younger half-brother, Sigujana put to death. As chief of the Zulu clan, Shaka would still remain an important leader in the imperial army of Mthethwa. Shaka’s mentor and emperor of the Mthethwa empire, Dingiswayo would die in battle in 1817, at the hands of Zwide Kalnaga, who was the King of the Ndwandwe (Nxumalo) Kingdom. When the empire of Mthethwa was defeated, it would collapse, Shaka would seize the opportunity to fill the power vacuum, by reuniting and unifying the scattered people of Mthethwa and other regional chiefdoms. In the Zulu-Ndwandwe war (1817-19), Zwide and his army would be defeated. However, Zwide and most of his army would live to fight another battle and it wouldn’t be until 1825 that Shaka and Zwide would meet again on the battlefield, near the village of Pongola. Shaka would be the victor on that day. As Shaka’s reputation and respect in his Zulu tribe grew, he was able to encourage his people (who he transformed to be a Spartan-like people), to conquer rival surrounding tribes, that along with uniting with friendly tribes, he was able to transform the Zulu clan, into the Zulu Kingdom, which was rapidly becoming the Zulu empire
DEATH AND LEGACY
In 1828, sadly Shaka’s ultimate demise would not come at the hands of a rival African king like his mentor Dingiswayo, a soldier or European imperialist, rather he would be assassinated by his family. It is believed that his half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana and a third co-conspirator. Most likely it was because Shaka began to be seen by some as a tyrant-like leader with erratic behavior, it also could of been simple jealousy or sibling rivalry (seeing as Shaka also gained the throne by having a sibling killed). His half-brother, Dingane would assume leadership of the Zulu nation, and he would have Shaka loyalist purged from the government of the Zulu empire. Shaka is still seen by many as a legendary African leader within South Africa and in the African diaspora. There have been movies, books and articles made about his life, and there is even an aquatic theme park on Durban Beach named Ushaka Marine World and King Shaka International Airport at La Mercy.
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BY:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Pharaoh Narmer (believed by many experts of Egyptology to be the same pharaoh known as Menes). He was a Pharaoh in the early dynastic period of Egypt. He inherited the ancient African crown from protodynastic pharaoh Ka (also known as Sekhen).
He is believed by Egyptologists to of been the founder of the first dynasty of the kingdom of Egypt. He was the first pharaoh of the then newly united kingdom of Egypt, when he united upper and lower Egypt.
It is believed by many Egyptologists and scholars on Egyptian history that his reign began somewhere around 3100 BC. However, some theories say his reign on the throne may of started in 3273 BC or even 2987 BC.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Cathay Williams was ironically born in Independence, Missouri, sometime around September 1844. She was the daughter of a Black freedman and an enslaved Black woman, therefore making her a slave. Williams worked as a house slave on the Johnson plantation, which was located on the edges of Jefferson City, Missouri, until the early phases of the civil war, when Union troops occupied Jefferson City in 1861 and captured enslaved Black people, who were then labeled as “contraband” and forced to serve as soldiers or military support staff.
Some people claim that Cathay Willaims may have served in the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Red River campaign. Women weren’t allowed to participate in combat service, so historians believe she may have enlisted as a man under the name of Finis Cathay. As Finis Cathay she would of enlisted in the 32nd Missouri infantry in 1862 and would have particpated in many vital campaigns, including: The Siege of Vicksburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea, before fighting to force Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army surrender in North Carolina. On November 15, 1866 Williams would again sign-up for military service. This time under the name of William Cathay (since women were still prohibited from combat military service). Williams would be assigned to the 38th United States Infantry regiment (Buffalo Soldiers). Unfortunately, soon after her enlistment (or better yet re-enlistment), Williams would contract smallpox. After she recovered, she rejoined her unit, but would have to be repeatedly hospitalized, possibly due to the effects caused by small pox, combined with the extreme heat of the New Mexico desert, where her team was posted. Eventually, the post surgeon would discover her “feminine secret”, and informed her post commander. This led to her being discharged by the United States Army, by her commanding officer, Captain Charles E. Clarke, on October 14, 1868.
Post Military Life
In Fort Union, New Mexico, Williams would be employed as a cook. Williams would eventually move to Pueblo, Colorado and would get married. The marriage wouldn’t last long, her untrustworthy husband would steal her money and several of her horses. She would have him arrested and then moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where she worked as seamstress, and may have even owned a boarding house. Sometime around late 1889 or early 1890, Williams would enter a hospital, there she would attempt to physically recover from her bad heath issues she was suffering from at the time (her exact illness is unknown). In June of 1891, Williams would apply for disability pension because of her past military service. At the time there was a precedent for granting a military pension to a woman soldier. By 1816 Anna Maria Lane, Mary Hayes McCauley (better-known-As Molly Pitcher) and Deborah Sampson all received pensions for their service in the American Revolutionary War of Independence. Despite her military service, and the fact that she suffered from neuralgia,diabetes and had toes amputated and had to walk with a crutch; despite her injuries and health issues, Williams would be denied disability payments. It is believed that Williams died sometime around 1893 (shortly after being denied a military pension for her service). Her exact resting place is unknown.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Sunni Ali (sometimes spelled Sonni Ali), was born in Ali Kolon. Ali’s regal reign would last about 28 years (1464-1492). Ali was the 15th ruler of the medieval West African Sunni dynasty and the first ruler of the Songhai empire.
Under the command of emperor Sunni Ali, a plethora of regions and cities were conquered and then fortified, like Timbuktu, and Djenne. The newly captured territories would be subjected to Ali’s repressive policies. Timbuktu had their scholars targeted and in some cases, they were expelled from the city, particularly those scholars associated with the Taureg people (an ethnic Berber people) from the Sankore region. Under his authority a massive naval fleet that traveled through the Niger River was organized. Ali’s fleet was sucessful in winning him territories that formerly belonged to the Mali Empire and the Empire of Ghana.
According to some researchers Ali died on November 6, 1492. Some Muslim scholars believed Ali drowned while crossing the Niger River, while others believe that he was killed by his sister’s son, Askia Muhammad Ture. Ali’s son, Sunni Baru would take the throne formerly held by his imperial minded father. However, Baru would be successful challenged for the throne by, Askia, because Baru was not believed to of been a devoted Muslim, therefore not a moral leader of a predominantly Muslim country.
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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: BILAL IBN RABAH-THE SON OF AN AFRICAN PRINCESS, WHO BECAME A SLAVE, WHO BECAME A WARRIOR, WHO BECAME ONE OF THE MOST TRUSTED ALLIES OF THE ISLAMIC PROPHET MUHAMMAD🌍❤🖤💚!
By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Bilal Ibn Rabah was born in the holy city of Mecca (In Saudi Arabia), in the year of 580. According to the Islamic scholars he was the son of an Arab man and an Abyssinian (Ethiopian) woman.His father Rabah was a man in servitude to the Banu Jumah clan, while is mother Hamamah is believed to of been a former princess of Abyssinia, who was captured and put into slavery after The Year Of The Elephant (570-71 CE). Because Bilal was the son of two slaves, he was also a slave, His master was a man named Umayyah Ibn Khalaf, who was a local Arab leader in Mecca at the time. Bilal hard work ethic would gain him a reputation as a good slave, but due to the social and political racism and discrimination towards Black people in Arabian culture during his time, his potential for growth was limited in that society.
CONVERSION TO ISLAM
Soon after Muhammad announced that he was God’s (Allah’s) new prophet,and began preaching the word of Islam, his gospel began to resonate with Bilal, who became one of the earliest people to convert to the Muslim religion. When Bilal’s slave master, Umayyah Ibn Khalaf discovered his conversion, he was incensed and had Bilal tortured and several brutalized, with the goal of Bilal renouncing his new faith; which he never did, no matter how bad he was beaten.
Stories of how Bilal was beaten and whipped because of his devotion to the Islamic religion reached the ears of the prophet Muhammad. After hearing the news of the torture of his new disciple, prophet Muhammad sent his close companion Abu Bakr to negotiate the emancipation of Bilal, which was granted.
BILAL IN MADINA
While in the newly formed Islamic state of Madina, Bilal continued to contribute to the Muslim society. Bilal would be chosen by the prophet Muhammad to be the first Mu’azzin, the man who recites the Adhan (Muslim call to prayer). As Bilal continued his growth in society, he would be appointed by the prophet to be the minister of Bayal-Mal (which roughly translates to the treasury). In this role he would be responsible for distributing funds to help orphans, widows, journeyers and other people who could not properly take care of themselves.
Bilal took part in the Battle of Badr, which is also known as the Day of Criterion in the Qur’an. The name derives from the Muslims who went to battle on Tuesday, March 13th of 624 CE, near the present-day city of Badr, Al Madinah province in Saudia Arabia. The battle marked the beginning of a six-year war between the prophet Muhammad and his tribe for control of their territory.
AFTER THE PROPHET’S DEATH
After the death of the Islamic prophet, Bilal traveled with several Muslim battlions under the command of Said Ibn Aamir al-Jumah, to Syria.
DEATH AND LEGACY
There is some dispute on rather Bilal died in 17 or even 21 AH of the Muslim calendar. Some believe he died in Damascus at the age of 60, others actually believe he died in Medina. After his death, it is believed that his descendants migrated to his ancestral homeland of Ethiopia, East Africa. The Royal Family of Mali in West Africa also claimed to be his descendants.
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by:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Yanga also known as Nyanga is believed to have been born in the year of 1545, on the 14th of May.Some researchers say he came from the Bran people of the coastal central African nation of Gabon, and was a member of its royal family. He was eventually captured and sold into slavery in Mexico (then called New Spain, which had the 5th largest slave population in the Americas at the time). There he would be given the name “Gaspar” Yanga.
In 1570, Yanga led a slave exodus into the highlands of Mexico, near the state of Veracruz. There, Yanga and his fugitive slave followers would build a maroon colony. Due to its isolation and mountainous location, the colony was well-protected for about 30 years. They survived by living off the land and by raiding caravans, and taking their goods.
A Form Of Freedom
In 1609 the colonial Spanish government, who were angry about the continued conflict with the Maroons decided to go to war with the fugitive slave colony,and to regain control of the territory. The Spanish would send over 500 troops to invade the disputed area, the Maroons had about 500 fighters, armed with various weapons including guns, stones, machetes, and bows and arrows. Because Yanga was an elderly man at this time in history, the Maroon army was led by a man named, Francisco de la Matosa, who was of Angolan descent. Yanga did however, assist his troops by sharing his experience and knowledge of the incredibly harsh terrain. Their objective was to frustrate the Spaniards and force them to negotiate. Once the Spanish army arrived in the Maroon colony, Yanga sent a captured Spaniard to speak with the Spanish troops with his terms of peace. The terms included an area of self-rule, like the colonial Spanish government had previously made with Native Mexican tribes. Part of the treaty would require the Maroons to pay them tribute, and to support the Spanish in any armed conflicts. The last neccessary concession required the Maroons to return any future runaways to the Spanish colonists. The Spanish inevitably would decide to refuse to sign the treaty with the Maroons, and instead decided to go to war against the Black freedom fighters. The Spanish with their superior weapons eventually advanced into the Maroon colony and burnt it to the ground. The Maroons would flee into the surrounding territory, which they knew extremely well, denying the the Spanish troops a final victory. The two sides would go on to battle each other for years, resulting in various stalemates.
In 1618 a treaty was eventually signed, Yanga and his family would be granted the right of rule in the Maroon colony.
Decades after the Independence of Mexico, Gaspar Yanga was designated a national hero of Mexico and El Primer Libertador de las Americas.