Baden Powell in Ghana

The Ashanti Expedition

In 1895, Baden Powell (the Founder of Scouting) was sent to the Gold Coast to lead an expedition against Nana Prempeh I (King of the Asante tribe). He was sent here to raise a native force to augment the effort of the main British force to oppose the powerful Ashanti tribe. His first job was to make a road from the Coastal areas to the Kumasi (Capital of Asante).
This was very difficult in the thick jungle. He finished this job without any bloodshed with the help of some tribes (native force) in the then Gold Coast who helped him with their pioneering skills.Baden-Powell's force was made up of hundreds of warriors from the Krobos, Elmina, Mumford and Adansi tribes. They had to scout out a new route through the thick jungle, in enemy territory, and pioneer a new road along the sea coast which the main British force could follow to attack the Ashanti capital of Kumasi.Baden-Powell went home (Britain) with many ideas from the Ashanti campaign, in what is now Ghana (formerly Gold Coast) in West Africa. Many of them are still in use in scouting today.
The Gold Coast, now Ghana, was a colony of the British Empire.


Pioneering in the jungle:Making a road through the jungle meant clearing the thick growth, laying roads through marshes, and constructing bridges over rivers and streams. B-P made sure his force was trained in skills of axe manship, pioneering and knotting. They built more than 200 bridges from spars and lashed together with vines.
The Ashanti used drums for signaling over long distances, and the intricate language of the drums could be heard every night booming through the jungle.  For example, some of the drums were made of leopard skin and when played it sounded like a leopard roaring and this scared their enemies.

Construction of bridges drumming to signal 2


Scout patrols

From the people of Gold Coast (Now Ghana), Baden-Powell learnt the phrase "softly softlycatchee monkey" - and he learnt that he could get the best work out of his force by dividing it into small groups, or patrols, and giving responsibility to the captain of each group.

The Scout Staff

The Scout Staff was copied from one used in the Ashanti campaign, to test the depths of swamps, to feel the way at night while secretly scouting out the enemy positions, and also used to hang telegraph wires from the branches of the jungle.
"It was in Ashanti, on the West Coast of Africa where my particular job was to organize and command a corps of native Scouts and Pioneers”.
"We were accordingly working two or three days in advance of the main body of European Troops and in the densest primeval jungle and forest, without roads or paths of any kind to guard us.”
"In order to circumvent the enemy much of our advance had to be carried out by night, which meant difficulties at nearly every step among fallen timber, boggy streams, tussocks of reeds and bushes, etc.”
"Without a staff, one could not have got along at all." - B-P

The Left Handshake

There are two stories about the origin of the left handshake in Scouting. The first is simply that the left hand is closest to the heart. But there is also a much more interesting story, which comes from the Ashanti tribe itself.
When B-P entered the Kumasi, the capital city of the Ashanti, he was greeted by a warrior chief who held out his left hand. He told B-P "the bravest of the brave shake with the left hand." So began the left handshake which is used by millions of Scouts all over the world.
The explanation of the left handshake is that a warrior uses the left hand to hold the shield, while the right hand holds the spears. So to show your trust in someone, you put down the shield and greet them by holding out your left hand.


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Contact Us

The Headquarters of the GSA is located at Accra High Street, at the Baden Powell Centenary Hall Premises.
Post office Box GP 108
High Street-Accra

Office Telephone: 0302- 663627


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