A Decolonial History of African Female Education and Training in Colonial Asante, 1920-1960





decolonial history, female colonial education, Asante history, African women’s empowerment, colonial Ghana, tropical West Africa


This paper is a decolonial exploration of the intersection of colonialism, education, and gender in the Asante (Ashanti) region of colonial Ghana in tropical West Africa between 1920 and 1960. Despite the atrocities of the colonial period, Western education provided a system of change for African women. However, the colonial period also deprived female leaders of their authority and perpetuated traditional gender roles, which were reinforced by the education system. While some schools and centres were opened for the training of girls, there was still limited access to education and opportunities for women. This study relies on primary and secondary sources, including archival sources, books, and articles, to uncover the complex history of Asante women’s colonial encounters and female education. Using a decolonial lens, the paper challenges dominant narratives and uncovers hidden histories, highlighting the systemic exclusion of women from power and the perpetuation of colonial power relations.

Author Biographies

Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Samuel Adu-Gyamfi is an Applied Historian at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Asante Region, Ghana. His research focus is in Applied History including the social studies of health, medicine and education in Africa. Through Applied History, he makes an explicit attempt to illuminate current challenges and choices by analyzing historical precedents. His current interests are in applied history of epidemics, pandemics, education and politics in Ghana. He holds a PhD in Historical Studies from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumase-Ghana and has published extensively in peer review journals. As a native of Asante, I argue that the rich history of the local people is laced with European presence and activities but that should not subsume local knowledge. Indigenous or ethno knowledge must be given the right space in the interpretation and re-interpretation of the local histories of the people of Asante and this includes female education and training in Asante since the colonial period.

Helena Osei-Egyir, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Helena Osei-Egyir is a doctoral candidate at the Department of History and Political Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana. Her research interests are centred around gender relations in Asante, education in Asante, female traditional rulership and environmental history. Her doctoral dissertation looks at how humans have utilized forests for their social, economic, spiritual and healthcare needs. She has published in the areas of the History of Science and Technology, Indigenous healers as preservers of forests and cultural heritage, and female marriage and education in Asante. She has won several fellowships, including, two Queen Elizabeth Scholarships to undertake research in Cameroon, and Canada. As an African, female academic, I am aware of the barriers and inequalities that permeate the academic publishing industry. These hurdles profoundly impact the representation and recognition of research from diverse backgrounds. As an African born and raised on the continent, I possess lived experiences that shape and inform my perspectives. I am committed to amplifying marginalized voices, challenging dominant narratives, and highlighting the vast knowledge generated by scholars deeply rooted in African scholarship.


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Manhyia Archives, Kumase. MAG/1/6/2/ Public Notice: Releasing of Land within Kumase Division-Including that of Wesleyan Mission-Wesley College (Case No. 77/43), 1933-44.

Manhyia Archives, Kumase. MAG/10/2/159. Eccuah Affaduah vrs Yankey (Claim of 25 pounds from defendant as damages for breach of marriage promise). (Case No. 189/36), 1936.

Manhyia Archives, Kumase. MAG/10/2/25. Kwabena Gyato vrs Kwaku Kamara (6 pounds and one sheep being adultery fee). (Case No. 615/35), 1935.

Manhyia Archives, Kumase. MAG/10/2/26. Kwabena Gyato vrs Kofi Wesewu (6 pounds and one sheep being adultery fee). (Case No. 616/35), 1935.

Manhyia Archives, Kumase. MAG/10/2/25. Kwabena Gyato vrs Kwaku Tawia (6 pounds and one sheep being adultery fee). (Case No. 614/35), 1935.

Manhyia Archives, Kumase. MAG/10/2/76. Kwame Yensu vrs Kwabena Tatwa (25 pounds damages for having sexual connection with plaintiff’s wife and deliberately refused to pay the adultery fee). (Case No. 1212/35), 1935.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/30, St. Monica’s Secondary School and Teaching College Mampong-Ashanti, 1949-1950.

PRAAD, Kumase, ARG/1/13/1/40, Rural Training Centre for Women (Extension Work in Nutrition). (Case NO.0883), 1945-1957.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/1, Wesleyan Girls’ Boarding School, Kumase (Case No. 88/28), 1928-1930.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/4, Roman Catholic Girls’ Boarding School Obuasi (Case No. 36/34), 1934.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/6, Agogo Girls Boarding School and Hospital (Case No. 0279), 1942-1952.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/6/13/9 Kumase Division Senior Girls’ School (Case No. 0343), 1951-1954.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/12 Bekwai Girls’ School (Case No. 0903), 1945-1948.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/13, Presbyterian Girls’ School Bantama, 1946-1948.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG/1/13/1/16, Girls School Asokore (Case No. 1502), 1948-1951.

PRAAD, Kumase. ARG 1/13/2/1 Ashanti Advisory Committee on Education (Case No. 95/38), 1942.

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How to Cite

Adu-Gyamfi, S., & Osei-Egyir, H. (2023). A Decolonial History of African Female Education and Training in Colonial Asante, 1920-1960. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 22(2), 218–238. https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.22.2.2023.3949