While visiting Songea in southwestern Tanzania, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his condolences for the victims of the German colonial rule during the German East Africa era.
The German East Africa colony, which encompassed present-day Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, existed from 1885 until the end of World War I.
President Steinmeier paid his respects to Chief Songea Mbano, who was executed during the German colonial era, and recognized him as a brave leader in the rebellion. He requested forgiveness for the actions of Germans during that time and pledged to seek answers to the open questions surrounding this dark period in history.
Steinmeier honored Chief Songea Mbano by laying a rose at his grave and placing a wreath at a mass grave containing the remains of 66 other fighters from the Maji Maji uprising, which occurred between 1905 and 1907 and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people.
The German President also mentioned the challenge of identifying human remains, including Chief Mbano’s skull, which may have been brought to Germany. He vowed to attempt to find it but acknowledged the difficulties in such endeavors.
In 2017, the Tanzanian government considered taking legal action to seek compensation from Germany for the alleged mistreatment, torture, and killings of people by German forces during the colonial era.
Germany reached an agreement in 2021 with Namibia, another former colony, acknowledging the genocide committed during colonial times but falling short of formal reparations. However, this agreement has yet to be officially ratified and is met with some dissatisfaction from certain groups representing affected communities.