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Long Live the Queen!: The Yaa Asantewaa Centenary and the Politics of History Village

Lynda R. Day


In the fall of 1999, I went to Kumase, Ghana as a Fulbright professor to teach two history courses at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. As a lecturer in African history, I was of course familiar with the Ashanti queenmother, Yaa Asantewaa’s last ditch effort to preserve Asante sovereignty in the Yaa Asantewa War of 1900, and I looked forward to visiting her town and gaining a better understanding of the cultural and historical context of her resistance struggle. As I expressed an interest in finding out more about Yaa Asantewaa, colleagues in my department informed me that preparations were then underway to celebrate the centenary of Yaa Asantewaa’s war in July and August of the next year. A committee had been formed and numerous experts and community representatives had come together to organize an ambitious commemorative event. I was invited to come to committee meetings and lend whatever expertise I might have to offer. Honored, I attended as many meetings as I could to both learn and share as much as possible. I hoped that my experience in planning cultural programs for the public would help me to bring something to the group. As an African American woman, I saw Yaa Asantewaa as one of my own cultural foremothers who should by all means receive her due recognition in the year of the centenary of her sacrifice. I was heartened by the idea that Yaa Asantewaa could generate so much interest and energy on the part of so many people who were not even historians.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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