Civilopedia entry Edit
There is archeological evidence that there has been a settlement (of some primitive sort) at Kumasi since the Neolithic period. But the town wasn't commonly known until 1695 AD when it became the center of the Ashanti Confederation under Osei Tutu. With the 1701 victory over the Denkyira tribes, Kumasi became the cultural as well as the political center of the Ashanti ethnic group. Located astride two Saharan trade routes, it also became quite wealthy … and the discovery of gold in the kingdom didn’t hurt.
No doubt the latter contributed to the legend that the priest and lawgiver Ohomfo Anokye received the Golden Stool from heaven, the embodiment of the spirit of the Ashanti peoples – past, present and future. Except, of course, the slaves; slavery was a historical tradition among the Ashanti, and were often taken in warfare or by raiding nearby tribes. Slaves were occasionally sacrificed, and were expected to follow their masters into the afterlife (usually with a little help). But on the positive side, Ashanti slaves could own other slaves and even request a transfer of ownership if they deemed themselves abused.
Kumasi was doing quite well, an “artistic” metropolis by all accounts, until the Anglo-Ashanti Wars … five of them between 1824 and 1901. The conflict was triggered by several coastal kingdoms in Ghana threatened by Ashanti expansion which called upon the British for protection; British greed for gold just may have been a factor also. Whatever the reasons, near the end of the Third Anglo-Ashanti War much of Kumasi, including the palace, was destroyed by British forces after their victories at the hard-fought battles of Amoaful and Ordashu. Although two more wars were left, Kumasi never regained its prominence and stature.
It did, however remain the cultural center of the Ashanti; ceremonial control of Kumasi was restored to the Ashanti in 1926. In 1935 the Ashanti Autonomous Region was established in the British territory, with Kumasi as its capital.