Photo of a terracotta head from the Ashanti kingdom (17th century). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The history of Ghana encompasses that of many kingdoms, including the famous Ashanti Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Though little has been written on the rulers of the kingdoms that existed on the lands of modern Ghana, names of a few female rulers survive to us. At the end of the fifteenth century the Akan peoples established their hold on the region and created several states that were centred around the gold trade. Multiple European powers vied for access to the West African coast to participate in trade, resulting in numerous wars across the early modern period, with the British successfully conquering the kingdoms in 1900. In 1957 some of these kingdoms were united and became the country of Ghana under the British Commonwealth. In 1960, Ghana was declared a republic and became ruled by a president.

Throughout its history, the many kingdoms of Ghana have demonstrated its links and importance with trade, however only scant evidence survives for Ghanian female royal rulers. You can find out more about one of them, Yaa Asantewa, below!


Konadu, Kwasi, and Clifford C. Campbell, eds. The Ghana Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016

Lewin Richter Meyerowitz, Eva. The Akan of Ghana. Their Ancient Beliefs. London: Faber & Faber, 1958

Lewin Richter Meyerowitz, Eva. At the Court of an African King London: Faber & Faber, 1962.

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