This investigation’s question is directly focused on the Asante Empire and “ To what extent did Osei Tutu’s Contribution build a united Asante Empire (1695 – 1719) a success?
“Osei Tutu contributed to the growth of the Asante Empire in five main ways. The first problem he tackled was the creation of a lasting union. It was with the view of creating a lasting union they “ conjured down from the sky” the now revered and sacred Golden Stool.” The main argument is that Osei Tutu played a role in establishing the Asante Empire.
The primary sources I would evaluate are scripted from the, “Topics in West African History” and “The History of Ashanti Kings and the whole country itself.” This primary sources shows the contributions of Osei Tutu in establishing the Asante Empire as well as his fall; both sources are very useful for this investigation.
The origin of this source is from a book entitled “ Topics in West African History” The source gives as a direct insight on how Osei Tutu stimulated the growth the Asante Union in five ways. The origin of this source is of Ghanaian decent making the writer Ghanaian. The origin of the source is very valuable because it provides an interesting perspective into the culture and some factual accounts of the Asante people, For example giving as an insight into the Odwira festival every member state attended once a year, where plans were concerted for the next year and tribute paid in case of wars and national emergencies. Because is written by someone who had a direct relation with the Asante Culture and Empire. The only limitation with this is that if the accounts of information collected on the document happened many years ago. It’s possible the details given might have been change added or left out as time went on. This can also be done to conform to the popular views of the Asante People. It also runs the risk of being biased in other words it could have been possibly written to suit and protect his countries national identity. This can be possible looking at how much Osei Tutu is been praised throughout the book.
Another valuable source to my investigation is from a book entitle “The History of the Ashanti kings and the whole country itself.” The origin of the source is of Ghanaian decent providing first hand information the writer experienced or witnessed, it’s also not easily accessible; for example the source lacks a proper account of the events that lead to Osei Tutu’s death. Another purpose of this source is to inform readers on aspects of Osei Tutu’s reign were he failed to meet expectations, a perfect example was allowing defeated chiefs to rule their subjects instead of appointing his own. This allowed the chiefs to organize their army and fight back for their independence. Also the limitation with this is that there is a chance of it been used as a propaganda tool to influence or alter the concepts of Ghanaian kids. Another lack of imitation of this source is that is been translated from a traditional language into the English language. There might be a higher chance of the source turning out to be inaccurate due to lack of certain vital details, which might have been omitted. This can make the source less valuable.
With the blessings of his late uncle Obiri Yeboah Osei Tutu occupied the Kwaman Throne promising; to deliver his people from the hands of Denkyira rule and bringing all the Asante states together. At the first mention of Osei Tutu’s name one cannot help but to draw a connection with Okomfo Anokye Asante’s greatest Chief Priest and Adviser to the King. Like the great Asante saying goes United we stand and divided we fall; the successes of Osei Tutu was not solely based on his wit and his effective use of diplomacy to solve local revolts and relations. He also initiated the heavy use of magic in governing his small clan at the time known as Kwaman with his Chief Priest Okomfo Anokye as head, which eventually grew and become recognized as the Asante Empire. Osei Tutu cementing himself as one of Asante’s greatest King to ever sit on the throne was made possible with the spiritual and paramount power of his close friend Okomfo Anokye who always found a solution to Asante’s troubles even when the odds were against them and victory seemed impossible. With Okomfo Anokye Asante and Osei Tutu managed to find a way out the most hostile and impossible situations they encountered. As promised Osei Tutu the chief of Kumasi State summoned all the heads of the Asante states to his kingdom where a meeting was being held, this was Osei Tutu’s first step in uniting the Asante states. At the meeting the question of general concern was who should be chosen as the Messiah to lead the newly formed Asante Empire. As expected a suitable candidate was not found because every state leader present chose themselves as suitable candidates for the throne. To prevent any tension and possible disagreement arising between the chiefs Okomfo Anokye quickly intervened and asked the Chiefs of the various states to agree on a day were they will meet to chose the future King of the Asante Kingdom. He also told the Chiefs to pray and pour liberations to their gods until the agreed day came, like wise he did the same. Tradition has it that on the day of the coronation of Asante’s first Supreme leader and political head of state; the sky was darkened with loud thundering claps and lightning. What followed next was a Golden Stool conjured from the sky, which landed on the Osei Tutu’s lap. Making him Asante’s first and Paramount Chief chosen to lead the Asante Empire by no man but by the gods themselves. Okomfo told them the Golden Stool should be protected at all cost because it contained the spirit and soul of Asante. All the other Chiefs swore an oath of allegiance to Nana Osei Tutu. The oath symbolized the acceptance of Nana Osei Tutu as the new King and letting go of the past. After the emergence of the Golden Stool and successful coronation of Nana Osei Tutu Okomfo Anokye gained the respect and attention of the Asante people. Nana Osei Tutu’s reign as Asantehene was tested by two major wars, which were very important to his Kingdom. In 1698 Osei Tutu swore to fight the people of Domaa to avenge the death of his uncle Obiri Yeboah who was killed by the men of Domaa. Finally ready an fully equipped with his army he marched his men into Domaa adopting his infamous Akwamu formation he adopted from an army of ants; this consisted of a vanguard (adonten) a rear (Kyidom) right wings (nifa) and left (Benkum) the essence of this formation was to ensure that the enemy was consistently attacked on every side during the battle causing confusion and gradually leading to it breaking apart and losing the war. Osei Tutu’s brilliance and attention to his army formation earned him a victory against Domaa. After conquering the town he named it
“ The soul washer of Asantehene ” he’s job was to offer sacrifices to the gods on behalf of the Asantehene, in order to prevent his death and asked the gods for the king’s forgiveness for his wrong doings. This position was very important because it was critical to the King’s survival. Unlike the people of Denkyira when the Asante’s conquered a state they gave the defeated state the right to keep their customs and traditions as well as their King. In fact they awarded their Chief with a high position in the Asante Empire. Another thing they did was that they did not refer to a conquered state as a defeated state; they treated them as brothers who were under the Asante Empire or Family. He’s next target, which highlighted Nana Osei Tutu’s reign and the sole reason for the Formation of the union was the war against Denkyira. This war proved to the states under Asante and including the Europeans, especially the Dutch the power of unity in an empire and the wonders it’s was capable of doing. The people of Denkyira treated the Asante people over the years harshly and with contempt; they were asked to pay a yearly tribute of a larger proportion of the yield. This included the men carrying commodities such as firewood, natural resources and harvested food. The idea of men carrying all this commodities to Denkyira signified that they were being regarded as women. All this insults were being tolerated by the Asante until;
Ntim Gyakari the new King of Denkyira who succeeded the late King Boapunsem sent demands to the people of Ashanti; as punishment for entertaining the murdering of the late King of Denkyira in their village. The messaged asked each Ashanti King or leader to send one of his favourite wife to the King as well as his most beloved child whom they really loved to Denkyira, in addition to that a copper dish was sent; and was to be filled to the brim with gold, until this condition was met the copper dish couldn’t be returned. The Chiefs of Asante replied by filling the copper dish with stones and immediately ordered for the sword bearer to be killed on the spot; the body of the sword bearer and messenger was placed in the dish. When the message got to Nana Ntim Gyakari he accepted the challenge and waged war on Asante. Ntim Gyakari succeeded in driven Asante out of three major provinces like Aduntun, Abuontem and Aputuogya one thing he did not know was this provinces was used as a divergent to lure his mind away from the Asante forces who were secretly reaming and occupying Feyiase. When Ntim marched his forces into Feyiase he fell into the hands of Osei Tutu; Ntim Gyakari was ambushed and killed with every single man he was accompanied by. Asante become the most powerful empire among in the Ghana and beyond. After the defeat of Denkyira Nana Osei Tutu launched the Odwira festival observed once every year. All members of the Union were to meet in Kumasi the agreed capital were festivals and prayers were being concerted for the entire nation. Disputes and quarrels were settled among Chiefs. The purpose of the Odwira festival was to unite the Union with common celebration and to remind the young generation of the sacrifices their ancestors had done to bring them here; it was expected of them to do the same when the time came. Osei Tutu till this day has been credited when turning the small Oyoko clan, which is been recognised today as the Asante Empire. He was a brave fighter, a renowed war strategist and an influential figure. However his reign came with ups and downs, after conquering various states he gave their leaders to much freedom; this resulted in Nana Boadu Akefun the Chief of Denkyira who organised an army to fight the Asante’s for their independence just a year after they were defeated. Also during the Slave Trade period; capture enemies of Osei Tutu or prisoners of war were been sold as slaves to the Europeans. Osei Tutu should have realized irrespective of the differences he had with his enemies. Selling his own black people and possibly his nephews and descendants was a sin and an unforgivable act.
The question “ To what extent did Osei Tutu’s contribution build a united Asante Empire (1695 – 1719) a success? ” is raised every six weeks in the Ashanti region on Sunday during Akwasiadae. This question is consistently being raised because it’s of relevance to the history of the Asante people and it still persist in the young minds of the Ashanti generation because it reminds them of the sacrifices their ancestors took to get them to where they are today; it also forms a part of their identity they which they are proud.
During my investigation I realized most historians trying to determine whether the reign of Nana Osei Tutu was a success fall short of answering the question properly because evidence on his failures during his long reign is very limited and hard to come about. The problem this cause is that the historian from a neutral perspective is seen most of the time answering only one side of the argument; it’s important as well but does not give as a full side of the story leaving hanging in the air on whether he’s reign was successful or not. Also data concerning the activities of Nana Osei Tutu are sealed in archives, which cannot be located or simply destroyed.
My method was during this investigation was old books from the accounts of witnesses who lived during Osei Tutu’s time, I also interviewed an expert on Asante history specifically Osei Tutu. Lastly I relied on primary sources like journals, newspapers and documents. The disadvantage with this method is that it’s time consuming and cannot be fully relied on. A source I was able to rely on was press publications and personal memoirs, which were not over object and displayed a bit of truth. Due to the inability to achieve a true assessment the investigation becomes sketchy.
In my investigation I came to the conclusion that historians should not hold on to sources, which have a high value of importance in the lives of people concerning their religion and identity. Lack of data concerning his failures damaged the objectivity of my work. This was the limitation of my investigation because it did appear to be fully objective. This could also mean that a flaw in a history work gives as the ability to preserve sacred data meaning that we have been able to achieve the greatest value in history, which is learning from our mistakes.
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