Maji Maji Rebellion 1905-1907

Discussions on all aspects of the German Colonies and Overseas Expeditions. Hosted by Chris Dale.
User avatar
Peter H
Member
Posts: 28628
Joined: 30 Dec 2002 13:18
Location: Australia

Maji Maji Rebellion 1905-1907

Post by Peter H » 30 Jul 2003 05:33

More problems occured for Germany when rebellion broke out in East Africa in 1905 as well.The German planters push for cash-crops like cotton,and the need for native labour,soon brought disruption.

http://www.ntz.info/gen/b00274.html#04027

The Maji Maji war

They continued exercising their authority with such disregard and contempt for existing local structures and traditions and with such brutality that discontent was brewing anew and in 1902 a movement against forced labour for a cotton scheme rejected by the local population started along the Rufiji.

It reached a breaking point in July 1905 when the Matumbi of Nandete chased their akida and suddenly the revolt grew wider from Dar es Salaam to the Uluguru Mountains, the Kilornbero Valley, the Mahenge and Makonde Plateaux, the Ruvuma in the southernmost part and Kilwa, Songea, Masasi, and from Kilosa to Iringa down to the eastern shores of Lake Nyasa.

Known as the Maji Maji war with the main brunt borne by the Ngonis, this was a merciless rebellion and by far the bloodiest in Tanganyika.

Germans had occupied the area since 1897 and totally altered many aspects of everyday life. They were actively supported by the missionaries who destroyed all signs of indigenous beliefs, notably by razing the 'mahoka' huts where the local population worshipped their ancestors' spirits and by ridiculing their rites, dances and other ceremonies. This would not be forgotten or forgiven; the first battle which broke out at Uwereka in September 1905 under the Governorship of Count von Gotzen turned instantly into an all-out war with indiscriminate murders and massacres perpetrated by all sides against farmers, settlers, missionaries, planters, villages, indigenous people and peasants.

Convinced by powerful witch-doctors (waganga), the people believed that special water from the Uluguru Mountains protected men with magic by turning bullets into water (maji in Kiswahili, hence the Maji Maji Rebellion). The best known mganga was Kinjikitile of Ngarambe and 'drinking stations' were installed all over to allow local populations to benefit from this magic medicine, which was in fact not so much drunk as sprinkled all over the body.

After the first assault, the Ngoni overran the Perarniho German Mission and burned down all the buildings, avenging the destruction of their huts. Sustained battles lasting three to four weeks went on all over but the Maji Maji leaders were repeatedly defeated since the Germans had no scruples in using machine guns against the fighters, who like the Pogoro and Mbunga tribesmen convinced that the Maji Maji was giving them immunity against bullets - massively attacked Mahenge in great strength, but were relentlessly mown down in dreadful numbers.

The biggest united fight against the Germans took place under command of Chief Chabruma of the Ngoni at Lumecha, ten miles east of the fortified German Boma (Administrative Headquarters) but he was routed. He started a protracted guerilla warfare but pursued by German officers and engaging in a last desperate fight in June 1906 he was badly wounded and crossed the Ruvuma into Portuguese territory to take refuge at the court of Chief Mataka of the Yao. Recovering from his wounds and planning yet one more attack he was assassinated by a pretender to his succession. Some actions lasted until 1907 around Songea but Chabruma's assassination marked the end of the incredibly violent rebellion which left between 120,000 and 135,000 dead.

The entire south German East Africa was completely devastated and the political power and economic structure of the Ngoni totally destroyed. District Commissioner Captain Richter applied a scorched earth policy and by confiscating food, provoked a two year-long famine and massive depopulation and emigration. His extreme policy came under severe criticism from those same missionaries who ten years earlier had been one of the main causes of the uprising and they now succeeded in having him relieved from his post.

Meanwhile and between March and September 1906, all the leaders of the Maji Maji Rebellion were hanged. Chief Songea, who gave his name to the town, was offered a reprieve from the death sentence because he had surrendered: he demanded to be and was hanged, fearing that his survival would be considered a treacherous act.



Some current estimates give the Maji-Maji death toll as possibly 300,000 people--starvation,due to the disruption of farming,was a big killer.

German mounted detachment 1905:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Peter H
Member
Posts: 28628
Joined: 30 Dec 2002 13:18
Location: Australia

Post by Peter H » 30 Jul 2003 05:35

Troops in German East Africa.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Peter H
Member
Posts: 28628
Joined: 30 Dec 2002 13:18
Location: Australia

Post by Peter H » 30 Jul 2003 05:39

That article mentions the German officer Tom von Prince (English born):

Tom von Prince (awarded the title 'von' in recognition of his many acts of bravery), had spent his military life fighting all over Tanganyika; against Isike in 1887, Machemba of the Yao in 1890, Sina of Kibosho in 1891, and he waged a gallant war against the Hehe, who, in spite of having nick- named him 'Bwana Sakarani' - the Wild Man - on account of his fierce temper - held him in such esteem that the German Colonial Office exiled him to the Usambaras.

Enrolled in General Lettow von Vorbeck's Army during World War I, he was killed in action in November 1914, leading an assault against British troops in Tanga where he lies buried.


Another pic from German East Africa:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
Olivier Palardy
Member
Posts: 36
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 05:49
Location: Québec

Post by Olivier Palardy » 30 Jul 2003 07:33

Very interesting stuff Moulded!

Given the fact that this rebellion was very close to the outbreak of WW1, how can we explain that no native revolt occured during the conflict? It would have been the good time since the german troops were busy against the allies. The local people seemed to have worked with entousiasm for the german cause during the conflict.

Also, do you think the german treatment of the natives (in africa) was more harsh than in the other colonies. I have read many things that pretend that. Is that only propaganda?? What do you think?
Last edited by Olivier Palardy on 31 Jul 2003 02:25, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Peter H
Member
Posts: 28628
Joined: 30 Dec 2002 13:18
Location: Australia

Post by Peter H » 30 Jul 2003 08:56

What happened in 1907 was that an independent German Colonial Office was set up,replacing the old model dictated to by the business orientated colonial pressure groups( like the Colonial Society and the Colonial Association).Bernhard Dernburg was the First Colonial Secretary in 1907.Emphasis was on respecting the rights of the natives,and sourcing raw materials(palm oil,cocoa,sisal),rather than labour intensive cash crops like cotton and coffee. Likewise infrastructure was built up(for example 2,800 miles of railway line was built between 1907-14) and a more lenient patriarchal attitude on culture adopted.

Whether German colonial dictums were worse than other European Powers is a moot point,but the French were having their own problems in North Africa and Indo-China in the same era.The American guerilla war in the Phillipines was also happening around the same time.The Belgian Congo 'excesses' under Leopold were also well known,if not more brutual than German policy.

Trotha's extreme attitude on racial war might have been the norm among certain segments of the Junker class,but would an effective democratic government have done more to enforce a more humane policy,at least on face value?

User avatar
PAK
Member
Posts: 253
Joined: 20 Apr 2003 11:48
Location: Aachen/Germany

Post by PAK » 30 Jul 2003 11:40

Hi Moulded, I just want to thank you for the great information you always come up with. :)
You really raised my interest in the colonial history, I already bought a book, and next vacation will be in Windhuk. :D
Funny, but I haven't knwon anything about this, so again thank you very much.

User avatar
Peter H
Member
Posts: 28628
Joined: 30 Dec 2002 13:18
Location: Australia

Post by Peter H » 02 Aug 2003 11:59

Pak,
Glad to be of help in stimulating interest in these topics. :)

A good book,in English,that contains chapters on the German African wars is Thomas Pakenham's The Scramble for Africa.These maps are from this work.

At a tenth of the cost of the SW Africa War,and with only 500 German troops,the East African rebellion was crushed.Pakenham attributes much of this to the 'leniency' of Governor von Gotzen.Pardon was given to rebels who surrendered and gave up their arms.The von Trotha policy of 'extermination' was judged as being the antithesis of restoring peace.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Return to “German Colonies and Overseas Expeditions”