Germany’s president on Wednesday apologized for the murders of Tanzanians under German colonial rule as he met descendants of Chief Songea Mbano executed for orchestrating the popular Maji Maji rebellion.
In Songea, southwestern Tanzania, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier promised to seek responses to questions regarding the German East Africa era.
“My dear family (of Songea, ed.), I mourn with you for Chief Songea, and for all the others who were executed. I wish to pay my respects to the victims of the German colonial rule. And as German President I would like to ask for forgiveness for what Germans did to your ancestors here,” Steinmeier said.
He added that Mbano was “a brave leader” in the rebellion.
“I beg your forgiveness and I would like to assure you that we Germans will search with you for answers to the open, unanswered, outstanding questions that give you no peace.”
On Tuesday, after meeting President Samia Suluhu Hassan in Dar es Salaam, the German leader promised that his country would work with Tanzania for the “repatriation of cultural property”.
The German East Africa was a colony under the German sphere of influence. The area included todays’ Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi existed from 1885 until the end of World War I.
A German policy aimed at forcing the indigenous population to grow cotton for export sparked the Maji Maji uprising.
The rebellion lasted from 1905 to 1907, during which 75,000 to 300,000 died, overwhelmingly from hunger and starvation.
This is not the first time the European country will be acknowledging its colonial misdeeds.
In 2021, Germany formerly acknowledged committing genocide in Namibia. It announced financial aid worth more than €1.1bn.