Famous Twi People | Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I
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Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I

Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I, whose original throne name was Kwaku Dua III Asamu (1870 - May 12, 1931) was an Asantehene ruler of the Oyoko Abohyen Dynasty of the Akan state of Ashanti. He ruled from March 26, 1888 until his death in 1939[dubious – discuss][d. 1931], and fought the War of the Golden Stool against the British in 1893[dubious – discuss][The War of the Golden Stool or Yaa Asantewaa war took place in 1900-01 four years after Prempeh's exile]. He was captured and pardoned by Robert Baden-Powell[dubious – discuss][He was arrested outside of British jurisdiction in a rogue action by W.E. Maxwell and not charged with any crime, hence pardon is the wrong term.]. The British exiled him to the Seychelles in 1896, along with Yaa Asantewaa[dubious – discuss][Yaa Asantewaa was not exiled in 1896 but five years later after leading the War of the Golden Stool]and other members of the Asante government.

Early life

In 1874, the British had declared the Gold Coast, located south of Asante, a British colony. In 1888 the Ashante enthroned 16-year-old Agyemang Prempeh I as king of the Asante, and he assumed the stool name Kwaku Dua III. Prempeh's kingship was beset by difficulties from the very onset of his reign. He tried to defend against British intentions of bringing Asante under its protectorate. When Prempeh I was asked by the British to accept a protectorate over his state, he rejected it and stated in his reply that the Governor had misjudged the situation. Ashantehemaa Yaa Akyaa, Prempeh I's mother and queen mother since 1884, had through strategic political marriages built the military power to secure the Golden Stool for her son. Prempeh I began an active campaign of reunification of the Asante. The British offered to take the Ashanti Empire under their protection, but Prempeh I refused each request. In one of his replies Prempeh stated, "My kingdom of Asante will never commit itself to any such policy of protection; Asante must remain independent as of old, and at the same time be friends with all white men."

Capture and exile

By 1895 Prempeh had formed an alliance with Samori Ture[dubious – discuss][19th Century Colonial Office Conjecture, See Wilks, 1975 & 2000], a Muslim warrior who had conquered large neighboring regions, resisting British and French forces. It was during this campaign that men of the Royal Engineer Telegraph Battalion(later Royal Signals) hacked a path for an overhead line from the Cape coast to Prahsu, covering 72 miles through the jungle. Men of the Telegraph Company staggered out of the jungle[dubious – discuss][False, see any account written after 1967 - e.g. Tordoff, Wilks, McCaskie, Adjaye, et al.], confronted King Prempeh and accepted the surrender of his army[dubious – discuss][They faced no resistance, the army did not surrender and was therefore able to fight the War of the Golden Stool or Yaa Asantewaa war in 1900-01]. King Prempeh's throne is now displayed in the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford[dubious – discuss][It was not recovered, and consequently provoked the above mentioned war four years later, again see any text on this subject]. On January 20, 1896, British authorities, referring to a debt incurred twenty years earlier invaded Kumasi and arrested Prempeh I, his mother Asantehemaa Yaa Akayaa, his father, the heir apparent (Prempeh's younger brother) and several Asante chiefs. Women, children, and attendants were also taken captive by the British. Prempeh offered no resistance, and he and other captives were taken to the coast and detained at Elmina Castle until in 1897 they were moved to Freetown, Sierra Leone. In 1900 he and the other captives were exiled to the Seychelles and kept at what became known as "Asante Camp" on Mahe, the largest of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. The camp was formerly a huge plantation, covered with coconut trees, mango, breadfruit and orange trees as well as a two-story villa. Prempeh I was assigned the villa, and 16 new wooden houses with sandy floors and roofed with corrugated iron-sheets were built and allocated to the various Asante chiefs. Prempeh made an effort to educate himself in English and to make certain that the children received education, and nominally converted to Christianity.

Return

By the early 1920s, the British authorities, perceiving less threat in Prempeh's return to Ghana, released Prempeh and fifty-four other exiles on September 12, 1924. Prempeh I returned to Kumasi as a private citizen.

Scouting

One of the legends is attributed to Prempeh is the left-handed Scout handshake; various versions of this story all center around African warriors using the left hand to hold their shields and to lower it showed they trusted each other. The left hanshake was used by the Krobos, a special unit of the Ashanti.

Prempeh became a founder member and president of Scouting in Ghana in 1919.

By Editor K 30/09/2011 20:57:00