In a historic visit to Tanzania, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a formal apology for his country’s crimes during the colonial period in the early 20th century. Germany thus recognizes the suffering inflicted on Tanzanians and undertakes to work on the painful collective memory while promising to return human remains to Tanzania.
During his stay in Tanzania, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier formally requested forgiveness for the atrocities committed by his country during German colonial rule. The president expressed his “shame” during his visit to the museum dedicated to the Maji-Maji people’s uprising, during which thousands of Tanzanians lost their lives between 1905 and 1907.
In the colonial region called “East Africa”, which was under German domination from 1880 to 1918, these events left deep scars. Historians estimate that the massacre caused between 200,000 and 300,000 victims. Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s request for forgiveness marks a significant turning point in the recognition of the suffering inflicted on colonized peoples.
The German president also called for a joint effort to preserve the memory of these painful events. He promised the restitution to Tanzania of the human remains which are still in Germany, and which date from this dark colonial period.
During his visit, Frank-Walter Steinmeier met the descendants of Chief Songea Mbano, a rebellion leader of the time, hanged and beheaded by the Germans along with 66 of his fighters. Songea Mbano’s family is still searching for their ancestor’s skull, which is believed to have been taken to Germany for study. The German president promised to do everything possible to find this precious vestige, although the task will be arduous.