1901-02 Visits to British cities by Ashanti 'village'

For all discussions relating to the Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth Ashantee Wars fought between 1863 and 1900.

1901-02 Visits to British cities by Ashanti 'village'

Postby Athelstan » 23 Aug 2010 14:24

Hi everyone

Has anyone out there come across records or reports on a 100 strong group of Ashanti's setting up a 'village' in various British cities?

I came across an article from a 1902 newspaper ( The Sheffield Weekly Independent), in a local history book for Sheffield. The 'village' was set up in the Artillery Drill Hall in Edmund Road and was there from at least Dec 1st to Dec 20th. The last date is because a 4day old little girl born to one of the couples on the 15th, died and was buried on that date.

The opening ceromony was conducted by a King Nothei under the state canopy complete with a figure of an elephant on it, conducted a libation with rum. This was followed by male and female dancers accompanied by drums iron castanets and mallets (?). After the dancing he was borne back to his hut in a palankin by several young men.

The 'village' included the workshop of a goldsmith and other metal workers, a carpenter, trained at the Basle Mission also working in ivory. It also included a weaver and a calabash carver. Visitors could also watch the women preparing and cooking traditional food. Apparently King Nothei had his four wives with him.

Given that there had been the revolt and siege at Kumasi in 1900 I did originally think that this had something to do with it, perhaps these were members of the pro British faction. However, on contacting the Basle Mission web site they could find no link with the mission in Kumasi under the Ramseyers, but, they did find a reference to an Ashanti 'village' in Vienna in 1897. There can not have been that many groups of Ashanti wandering around Europe at this time, so given this date it may have something to do with trying to gain support for the return of Prempreh 1st who we had abducted and exiled in 1896.

I can not see 100 Ashanti just turning up in Britain without some form of pre arrangement with one or more organisations, nor just appearing in Sheffield. Given that many of the Ashanti's 'Dane Guns' were reputedly made in Birmingham there may have been a visit to there, along with London of course, where the Victoria and Albert Museum had 13 items of Ashanti gold from the 1873/74 campaign plus at least one item, a sword, from 1900. (These can be viewed online)

Any information anyone can provide would be very much appreciated.
Athelstan
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Re: Visits to British cities by Ashanti 'village' in 1901-2.

Postby HPFlashman » 19 Nov 2010 00:37

I dont know about the Ashanti Village, you describes but at the Norwegian Jubilee exhibition in 1914, one of the big crowd pleaser's was what in several sources are described as either "the Negro Village" and "The Kongo Village", tallying around 80 persons. There are some pics in THIS LINK. I`m a bit short on anthropological knowledge, as to possibly identifying the area of origin from the pictures. But I gather there is people on the forum that has this knowledge. :)

As to where these fellows came from (if they in fact was Norwegian-ally recruited). There is Norwegian ties to both Kongo and South Africa in the period. In Kongo there was a couple of Norwegian hundred NCO`s and Officers, serving 3 years contracts from around 1895 untill the 1930`s. As to a lead on SA, there was a presence of Norwegian Missionary stations, starting up with one station in the 1850s, and as far as I know, several are still operating.

Not a specific answer, but it looks like there was some sort of organised touring/exhibiting out from Africa.
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Re: Visits to British cities by Ashanti 'village' in 1901-2.

Postby Athelstan » 21 Dec 2010 12:56

Hi H.P.
That's a useful bit of info, and I've had a look at the photos. I think that those people were from the Congo region. Apparently King Leopold had a village of Congolese on an island in a lake somewhere in Belgium. The inhabitants, I'm told, all starved or froze to death.

With regard to the Ashanti village it may also have been organised to attract investment for the gold mining industry that was developing at that time. Some of the people who were involved were the Swanzy family. Having been originally involved in the slave trade, gun running during the Ashanti Wars etc, they certainly had ships available to move groups of people around. Finding anything out about them though is proving difficult.

Thanks for the info though.

Athelstan
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Re: Visits to British cities by Ashanti 'village' in 1901-2.

Postby hayley6698 » 27 Feb 2012 11:39

Hi,

I am doing some research for my Master's degree on this topic. Could you tell me the name of the book you found this information in?

Thanks
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