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Ashanti

Ashanti (äshänˈtē) [key] or Asante äsänˈtē, historic and modern administrative region, central Ghana, W Africa. The region is the source of much of Ghana's cocoa. It is inhabited by the Ashanti, a matrilineal Akan people who constitute one of Ghana's major ethnic groups. Before the 13th cent., Akan peoples migrated into the forest belt of present-day Ghana and established small states in the hilly country in the neighborhood of modern Kumasi. By the late 17th cent. the states had been welded by the Oyoko clan into the Ashanti confederation, with the capital at Kumasi and the Oyoko chieftain as king. After subduing neighboring states the confederation came into conflict with British settlements on the coast, although treaties of friendship were negotiated (1817, 1820). A series of Anglo-Ashanti wars in the 19th cent. ended with the defeat of the confederation (1896) and its annexation (1901) to the Gold Coast colony. The British exiled King Prempeh I to the Seychelles and, in spite of great resistance, broke up the confederation. It was restored in 1935. In 1945 the Ashanti were given representation in the executive and legislative councils of the Gold Coast. They supported an unsuccessful attempt to give Ghana a federal constitution in 1954 and resisted the centralizing measures of the Nkrumah government. The Ashanti king remains influential in S Ghana. The Ashanti are noted for the quality of their gold work and their colorful kente cloth, and are famous for the gold-encrusted stool that is the symbol of the kingship.

See R. A. Lystad, The Ashanti (1958, repr. 1968); R. Battray, Ashanti (1923, repr. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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