Germany seeks to reckon with colonial atrocities in Tanzania

© Imani Nsamila

Visiting Tanzania this week, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for forgiveness for Germany’s brutal quelling of the Maji Maji uprising over a century ago. Around 300,000 Tanzanians died during this dark episode of Germany’s colonial history; some combattants beheaded and their remains yet to be returned to Tanzania.

Steinmeier visited the southern Tanzanian town of Songea and paid respect to the graves of fallen local warriors on Wednesday, as part of a three-day visit to Germany’s former colony.

Journalist Ezekiel Kamwaga told RFI that Steinmeier is the first foreign leader, and first German head of state, to visit Songea, capital of one of the poorest regions of Tanzania.

The trip has its roots 118 years ago, at the time of the Maji Maji uprising, in southern Tanzania, against the German colonial rule. And, further back to the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, when European powers partitioned the African continent among themselves.

Germany then laid claim to today’s Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia, Togo, Ghana and Cameroon.

By the end of the 19th century, Germany had established firm control over German East Africa, which covered the territories of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and part of Mozambique. The African population was subjected to high taxation, forced to build roads and grow cotton as a cash crop for export.

Read more on RFI English

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