#Harambee63 Trousers, Nana Yaa Asantewaa and Nanjiru

Nana Yaa Asantewaa (Ghana, 1900)
Nana Yaa Asantewaa (Ghana, 1900)

“If you the chiefs of Ashanti are going to behave like cowards and not fight, you should exchange your loin cloths for my undergarments.” – Nana Yaa Asantewaa

In 1900, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, a woman, led the fight against the British in present day Ghana leading up to the War for the Golden Stool which marked the start of rising resistance that ended with the declaration of independence and the presidency of Kwame Nkrumah. She died in exile in 1921.

By the time Yaa Asanatewaa led the battle in 1900, the Africans had fought against the British in 1824, 1826, 1874 and in 1896.

Her story is similar to that of Nanjiru in Kenya who led the raid on the Central Police Station in order to free Harry Thuku. People had gathered around the Central Police Station where he was held but were too afraid to do anything about it. Nanjiru stood up and said to the men:

“If you men will act like cowards, give me your trousers and I will go free Harry Thuku.” – Nanjiru

Nanjiru, along with 100 other people were killed when the police called for armed reinforcements, in this case, settlers who were relaxing at the nearby Norfolk Hotel, one of them, Lord Delamere.

Women’s resistance to colonialism and the African men who did not oppose it can also be seen in the Aba Women’s War in Nigeria (1929).

Written by Wambui