Ashanti

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Empire of Ashanti
Conventional short name:
Local: Asanti
English: Ashanti
[[Image:|200px|Flag of Ashanti]]
National motto: Determination! Victory! Liberation!
Languages:  
 Official: [[ ]] ([[ ]])
 Others: Dalmatian (banned)
Cities:  
 Capital: Azikiwe (Lagos)
 Largest: Accre
Emperor: Olusegun Azikiwe
Independence: from Danubian Confederation
 Declared: 1942
 Recognized: Never
Ceased to exist: 1948
Currency: Asha
Organizations: African Alliance

Ashanti was the name of two different African states established in the same area at different times. The Empire of Ashanti was a state that existed on the southern coast of western Africa during the years 1942-1948. The Confederacy of Ashanti was an African state that existed until the nineteeth century, when it was colonised by Dalmatia.

Contents

Empire of Ashanti

Establishment of the Empire

When the Danubian Confederation was occupied by the Holy Roman Empire in 1941 (in the Second Great War), the influence of the separatist movement led by Olusegun Azikiwe (which had been active since the mid-30s), grew significantly in its Gold Coast colony. With the loss of the support from the Confederation, Gold Coast dwindled into anarchy in several weeks as various militant groups took control of large portions of the countryside. Dalmatian expatriates (and frequently fellow Africans as well) were being murdered in the cities by the crowds of Africans. Mass looting of the state institutions started in some cities. In the capital Lagos and surrounding areas order was still kept by the Danubian 4th Division, but the rest of country became very unstable.

Azikiwe's movement was relatively well organised and, unlike other groups, understood that anarchy and looting leads nowhere. Azikiwe's goals were largely political and he was a visionary of African liberation. Before the occupation by the Danubian Confederation, the movement was based mainly in western Gold Coast. These were the territories that were captured by the movement at first in 1941. Accra fell in November of 1941 and was declared the temporary capital, but Gold Coast's colonial government's suggestion for truce was denounced by Azikiwe saying that Gold Coast would be free only when every city and village was liberated and that there could be no truce with the colonialists.

So Azikiwe's armies continued to advance eastwards and westwards. Anarchy had left its scars on the cities and towns. Many people had been killed or had lost everything they had. Many women were raped by various local gangs and militias. Thus most people welcomed Azikiwe without resistance, except for those warlords who enjoyed the state of anarchy, but they were quickly defeated. Azikiwe promised to give free land to everybody who would take part in the struggle, and thus many men, especially ones who had lost their wealth, had joined Azikiwe's forces. The war, despite its being proclaimed in modern African historiography as an anti-colonialist war, was actually fought more or less between Azikiwe and various local rulers, with the Danubian forces playing a relatively minor role.

Under such circumstances, most of the country's southern coast was under Azikiwe's rule by early 1942 and Lagos fell in June. The government evacuated the inhabitants of European origin from the city prior to the capture.

Active warfare in the south, however, prevented Azikiwe from capturing the northern parts of Gold Coast colony, and those lands were occupied by the advancing Ethiopian forces (in the Ethiopian Liberation War which was part of the Second Great War). As the Ethiopians regarded the Danubian colonies to be terra nullius after the colonising power fell, and thus eligible to be occupied, they considered northern Gold Coast, captured before Azikiwe could do that, to be legally theirs. This caused a diplomatic conflict between Ashanti and Ethiopia. Ethiopia was, however, not keen on invading another African state as that would have conflicted with its official goal of the liberation of Africa and, as well, it would have been hard to fight the popular Azikiwe's regime while at the same time fighting the French in the French Kongo. Azikiwe on the other hand understood the Ethiopian might and thus did not enter northern Gold Coast.

On June 12, 1942, the Empire of Ashanti was proclaimed in Lagos (named after the Confederation of Ashanti, the state that had existed in western Gold Coast until the 19th century). Olusegun Azikiwe was crowned as emperor. It is assumed that he did so attempting to immitate the Empire of Ethiopia, as Azikiwe, despite the diplomatic conflicts, admired the power and wealth of Ethiopia and its emperor. Ashanti became one of the very few states of Africa that liberated themselves during the Second Great War rather than being liberated by Ethiopia. This prevented annexation or the installation of a puppet government, and Ashanti remained an independent power. In modern Gold Coast Ashanti is frequently refered to as "the second African empire". In European historiography, however, (with the exception of Danubian, Scandinavian and Portuguese sources) Ashanti is said to have played a relatively minor role in the Second Great War and studies of the Second Great War in Africa primarily explain the actions of Ethiopia and China.

Politics during 1942-1945

The first goals of the emperor were to reestablish order and to promote the economy, which was heavily damaged by the warfare and anarchy. Many villages and enitire towns were burned down and cities became surrounded by shantytowns of displaced people. The Land Reform distributed the land among the soldiers of the 1941-1942 war who fought on Azikiwe's side. Chinese and Ethiopian enterpreneurs helped them to develop the businesses and to rebuild the country; Ethiopian financial aid was also important. Therefore Ashanti largely dropped the issue of the northern Gold Coast from its political goals and recognised it as a part of Ethiopia (although officially the claim remained, probably not wanting to enrage people).

The purification campaign officially started in December of 1942. This campaign, regarded as a crime against humanity by many, was aimed at the purification of the Ashanti nation by removing the supposed European pollution of its culture. Basicially the purification law, passed by the emperor on December 6, 1942, merely legalised what had been going on for a long time already, but the later acts of the campaign went much further. The Dalmatian language, which was spoken not only by the European expatriates, but as well by the native elite, was completely banned. The remaining Europeans were arrested or killed and had their property nationalised as "stolen property". There were not many Europeans left, however, and the regime targetted the former black elite as well. These people, who had done well with the Danubian government once and were influential, usually managed to protect their property from the gang attacks during the period of anarchy by hiring mercenaries and by other means. As such, most of their property was left intact during the war. They were now declared collaborators, had much propaganda used against them and their property was nationalised, usually either giving it to key military leaders or turning it into public institutions, such as schools and hospitals. The latter was more advertised. In early 1943, mass murders of these political prisoners started. Whole families were killed in this way. In late 1943, various lesser servants of the former Danubian rule, such as former policemen or soldiers, various local warlords who did not support Akiziwe's ideas and sometimes simply people who just happened to have Dalmatian names, were also murdered, although some managed to leave Ashanti. Because of reprisals against the rich and redistribution campaigns some consider the government of Ashanti to have been communist. Further actions of the purification campaign included a ban on giving non-local names to the children (and due to the pressure against people with non-local names many adults changed their names as well), renaming many cities and other locations (Lagos became known as Azikiwe), heavy propaganda of "African pride", and pressure on the Christianity and Islam.

Other developments that happened in Ashanti in 1943-1944 included the campaigns of providing homes and other security measures. Ashanti was also heavily militarised. Ethiopia turned a blind eye to all this, seeing Azikiwe as a possible ally. However, as it turned out later when the allies captured the Ethiopian archives in Addis Abeba in 1947, the Ethiopians had not ruled out a possibility of the assassination of Azikiwe or an invasion of Ashanti.

Ashanti was largely rebuilt by 1945 (although it stayed poor in comparison to Ethiopia) and the political opponents were either killed or forced to emigrate. Azikiwe became the sole and uncontested ruler of the whole country. Most of Ashanti's towns and cities erected his statues. A stella, similar to that in Addis Abeba, was built in Azikiwe City as the symbol of the empire. The construction of a new imperial palace, which was to be one of the largest buildings in the world, was started in 1944, but was never completed. Azikiwe had many fanatical supporters and those who opposed him did not dare to speak out loud; the military and the secret services did their job.

Ashanti in the Second Great War

Expansion of the Empire of Ashanti

In May of 1945, Ashanti joined the newly established Ethiopian-led organisation African Alliance, but with some reservations. In the same year Ashanti joined the Second Great War by attacking and overtaking Gadangmeland. This was done quickly after the German invasion of Rygen and only a day after the Ethiopian invasion of Meregh. Although some of the Gadangmelanders, expecting the danger, fled the country before the invasion, most remained. Many of these were massacred during the invasion. It is alleged that Azikiwe himself gave orders for the army to "be ruthless towards the Scandinavian colonialists". After the occupation, Gadangmeland was completely evacuated by the government of Ashanti with all its inhabitants being deported to other places in Ashanti. This was done in such a way that nowhere would the concentration of Gadangmelanders be so large that they would not quickly assimilate to the local cultures (and mostly they were forced to live in shacks in villages). It is assumed that during and after this invasion about 27% of Gadangmeland's citizens perished. The property in Gadangmeland was given to the soldiers who fought in the war and to the poor people of Ashanti and thus the area was repopulated. Azikiwe said, "The southern Ashanti is now reunified after its last portion was finally reattached".

Such success in the war stirred up the nationalist feelings of Ashanti people and made Azikiwe believe that he could capture even more lands. Ashanti was believed to launch an attack against another Scandinavian dependency of the Pepper Coast, where Scandinavians quickly attempted to build defenses and to evacuate people from the border regions to the west of the colony (but serious actions were hardly possible due to the war in Europe). However, in the Ethiopian style of the surprise attack, Azikiwe instead launched a surprise attack against the Portuguese colony of Came Rao in the September of 1945. Ethiopia supported the invasion with its own invasion of the northern part of the colony and with air force bombings. It is assumed that this attack was launched under some secret not-yet-discovered Ethiopian-Ashantian treaty. As Came Rao was close to Ethiopia, most likely Ethiopia asked Ashanti to invade it instead of the Pepper Coast and offered Azikiwe help in case he did invade Came Rao.

The war in Came Rao proved to be more difficult than expected for Azikiwe however. After hearing of Ashantian attrocities, the people of Came Rao fought vigorously. The Came Rao was fully occupied in December of 1945, but the war did not stop. Portuguese, and to a lesser extent Scandinavian, bombings of Ashanti cities were doing great damage to the country and Ashanti did not have any air force and little air defense force to defend itself from such attacks. Some anti-air weaponry was acquired from China and Ethiopia, but, however, frequent air raids created discontent and fear in Ashanti. Maybe because of the Ethiopian pressure or the fact that Came Rao was larger than Gadangmeland, Azikiwe did not repeat the mass evacuation or the mass killings. Some people indeed were killed, but many Portuguese officials and rich locals managed to leave in time.

The level of bombings increased in early 1946 and the Portuguese, Scandinavians and other allies were bombing the targets of the Pepper Coast/Ashanti border. This cleared the way for a Scandinavian invasion that took place in mid-1946, at the time the allies were invading Ethiopia from Egypt. Ashanti at the time had other troubles as well. As the discontent with Azikiwe's regime grew, partisan war continued in the Ashanti-occupied part of the Came Rao and several assasinations of key officials were carried out, probably by foreign agents. Still, the Scandinavian invasion failed and Ashanti reoccupied the lands briefly occupied by the Scandinavians in spite of taking heavy looses. It reached the heavily fortified Ashanti/Pepper Coast border, where the front stopped. An attempted invasion of the Pepper Coast was badly organised and failed.

When the allied advances in Ethiopia made that country very weak, Ashanti used the opportunity to capture the northern parts of the former Gold Coast colony. This was, however, the last territorial gain of Ashanti. The situation deterioriated toward the close of civil war and the Scandinavians invaded again, with the support of the Portuguese. Danubians later launched an invasion of the area from the sea to the area as well, wanting to retake the colony and make it a communist state. Azikiwe city fell in early 1948 and the whole of Ashanti was occupied by the middle of that year. The Scandinavian and Portuguese lands occupied after the war became the independent country of Gold Coast. The Pepper Coast was expanded and Accre city became a condominium of Gold Coast and the Scandinavian Realm, while the Danubians occupied Togo. Some areas were ceded to Mali. Emperor Azikiwe was captured attempting to leave the country eastwards, probably to the Native States, and tried for war crimes. The displaced people were permitted to return. In both Gold Coast and Togo Azikiwe's policies were reversed and the Dalmatian language was permitted again. Most of the people, tired of Azikiwe's regime, accepted the changes, especially as they were followed by heavy investment. However, Azikiwianist partisans continued the guerilla warfare in parts of Gold Coast and Togo.

This page was created by Abdul-aziz.
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