Agyeman Prempeh was king of the ASANTE (Ashanti), a people who once controlled much of present-day GHANA and IVORY COAST. Prempeh took power in 1888 after defeating rivals for the Asante throne. As king of a confederacy of Asante chiefdoms, he tried to unite his people by ending fighting in the central region and conquering rebels in the north.
In addition to internal problems, Prempeh faced outside threats. For some years the British had been trying to weaken the Asante by supporting their enemies and interfering with their laws. In 1896 a British force invaded Kumasi, the Asante's capital city. The invaders banished Prempeh to SIERRA LEONE and then to the SEYCHELLES Islands. During his years in exile, Prempeh learned English and joined the Anglican Church. Meanwhile, the Asante confederacy had become a British colony. In 1924 the British allowed Prempeh to return to his homeland as a citizen. Taking advantage of the former king's influence with his people, they made him ruler of Kumasi state. Between 1926 and his death, Prempeh reorganized the laws and politics of Kumasi. He also helped pave the way for the return of the Asante confederacy, which was reestablished in 1935. (See also Akan Region, Colonialism in Africa.)