Today marks almost 200 hundred years since the battle of Nsamankwo, which occurred between the British and the Ashanti Kingdom. On January 22, 1824, in the Battle of Nsamankow, the Ashanti Kingdom brutally defeated the British forces.
This war forms part of a total of four Anglo-Ashanti wars; Nsamankow war (January 21, 1824), Akatamanso war (August 1, 1826), Sagrenti war (March 14, 1874) and Yaa Asantewaa war (March 25, 1900).
The main reason for the war was the struggle for economic power between the Ashantis and the Fantes. Access to the coast and control of coastal trade was a source of continued conflict with the Fanti city-states along the coast. The British needed to either protect the Fanti tribes with whom they traded from being massacred and enslaved by the Ashanti Kingdom, or leave them to their fate.
The War began when the Ashantis had a territory dispute with the Fantes, a client of Great Britain. The Ashantis were seeking control of the River Pra which was a major trading route for the Fantis.
The then British Governor, Sir Charles McCarthy led an army of barely 600 men against perhaps 10,000 Ashanti warriors and their king, Osei Tutu Kwadwo. He was caught and beheaded after his men were defeated by the Ashantis during the war.
It is believed the British lost as a result of poor planning and military strategy. They ultimately run out of military ammunition and logistical supply. It is also alleged that the Fantis deserted the war, leaving the British soldiers vulnerable and at the mercy of the Ashanti soldiers.
The king of the Ashantis was so confident that he prophesied that soon he would defeat the British and McCarthy’s jawbones would be used as drumsticks and his skull as a drinking cup. As the Ashanti advanced, Sir Charles ordered his band to strike up with, “God Save the Queen”. Legend has it that indeed, his skull was used as a drinking cup by Ashanti Kings.
Eventually, a treaty was signed in 1831 to define the boundaries of the Ashanti kingdom and the authority of the British territorial claim in the Gold Coast.
This day is notable and worthy of remembrance because our forefathers fought to protect the land we now live on. Thus, the onus is on us and posterity to keep such memories alive.