ACCOUNT FOR THE RISE, GROWTH AND IMPORTANCE OF THE ASANTE EMPIRE
In 1873, under the leadership of Sir Garnet Wolsely, the British, supported by the Fantes, attacked the Asante Empire. This was the first time that the Empire had been attacked on its own soil. The Asantes were defeated and their capital, Kumasi, was burnt to the ground: marking the beginning of the end of a great empire that occupied most of present-day Ghana and even beyond.
The Asante Empire was originally a group of clans that settled in the districts of Adanse and Amanse, in the current Ashanti Region. Some of these clans are Bretuo, Ekona, Oyoko and Aduana. The first settlement they built was named Asantemanso and was located at the confluence of the Rivers Pra and Offin, since water was such an important necessity for settlements in those days. As their numbers grew, the various clans moved to establish states elsewhere yet remained within a 20-mile radius of each other. Examples of such states include Kumasi, Kumawu, Tafo, Bekwai, Edwisu and Mampong. The disunity among the states, however, made them easy prey for other conquering states such as Denkyira. In the following years, as the Denkyira rulers became increasingly tyrannical, a common hatred for them developed amongst the clans of Asante. This united them and they fought and defeated Denkyira in 1701. This union began the Great Asante Empire.
As the years wore on many factors resulted in the rise, growth and importance of Asante. These can be grouped as economic, military/political and social/structural.
On the economic front, the empire became important because of the central location of its capital along trade routes. Kumasi, which was part of the Trans-Saharan Trade, was an especially important area for the trade of gold and kola nuts. It also linked the commercial centres of Mali, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire and the Coastal Belt, among others. This trade also helped it to expand, as the many states surrounding Kumasi were absorbed...