The German head of state asked for “forgiveness” on Wednesday for the abuses committed by the colonial forces of his country in Tanzania, during a visit to Songea, site of a massacre of Maji-Maji (Mai-Mai) in beginning of the 20th century.
“I bow to the victims of German colonial domination. And as German President, I would like to ask for forgiveness for what the Germans did to your ancestors here,” declared Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to the text of a speech broadcast by his services in Germany.
Between 1905 and 1907, German colonial troops massacred between 200,000 and 300,000 representatives of the Mayi-Mayi after an uprising by the latter, according to estimates provided by historians.
Mr. Steinmeier spoke of the fate of Chief Songea Mbano, a leader of the rebellion at the time, who was hanged and beheaded by the Germans along with 66 of his fighters.
“Anyone in Germany who knows more about German colonial history must be horrified by the scale of the cruelty” with which she acted, he continued.
” I am ashamed ! I am ashamed of what the German colonial soldiers did to your ancestors,” he said in front of the descendants of Chief Songea, according to the text of the speech.
The visit to Tanzania of Mr. Steinmeier, whose function is essentially honorary in Germany but who has a role of moral guarantor of the country, comes at the same time as that of King Charles III to Kenya, who also condemned the colonial abuses of his country, the United Kingdom.
The German colonial empire, smaller than those of the French or the British, extended over several African countries, including Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Namibia and Cameroon. It ceased to exist after the First World War.