German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for “pardon” for the atrocities committed by German colonists in Songea at the beginning of the last century. In that city in southern Tanzania, an uprising of local residents was violently suppressed. Between 75,000 and 300,000 people died during the uprising, most of them from starvation.
“I bow my head to the victims of German colonial rule,” Steinmeier said during a speech in Songea, according to a text distributed by his office.
In his speech, Steinmeier referred to the fate of one of the leaders of the uprising, who was hanged and beheaded along with 66 of his fellow fighters. “I am ashamed, I am ashamed of what the German colonial soldiers did to your ancestors,” Steinmeier said. The speech was also attended by the rebel leader’s grandchildren. “What happened here is our shared history.”
The role of president in Germany is purely ceremonial. Steinmeier’s visit coincides with the visit of the English King to Kenya. He also condemned the abuses of the British colonial rulers.
The German colonial empire was smaller than the French and British empires, and included Namibia and Cameroon as well as Tanzania. Rwanda and Burundi were also part of it. After World War I, the Germans lost their colonies.
For several years, Germany has also paid attention to its colonial past. This has previously led to the return of remains of members of the Herero and Nama tribes of Namibia. In 2021, Berlin admitted to committing genocide there.
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