November 02, 2023

Germany’s President Addresses Colonial Crimes in Tanzania

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany, has apologised to the citizens of Tanzania for a particularly grave moment during their colonial rule of the East African country more than 100 years ago.

“I would like to ask for forgiveness for what Germans did to your ancestors here,” Steinmeier said to a crowd in front of the Maji Maji Museum in Songea, Southern Tanzania on Wednesday, 1 November.

The 67-year-old head of state was specifically referring to the Maji Maji rebellion which took place from 1905 to 1907, and ended with nearly 300 000 Tanzanians dying at the hands of the occupational German forces.

Colonial troops have been accused of systematically wiping out nearly a third of the indigenous population during the rebellion by burning down their villages and fields. However, it has taken decades for the atrocities to be formally acknowledged, with one expert going so far as to accuse the European country of having “colonial amnesia”.

“What happened here is our shared history, the history of your ancestors and the history of our ancestors in Germany,” Steinmeier said before telling the audience that his countrymen would help the Tanzanians search for answers to their unanswered questions.

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