German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued an apology and expressed his shame for the horrific abuses against Tanzania during the colonial period.
He made the comments on Wednesday at the country’s Maji Maji War Memorial Museum located in the city of Songea in southwestern Tanzania.
“I would like to ask for forgiveness for what Germans did to your ancestors here,” said Steinmeier. “What happened here is our shared history, the history of your ancestors, and the history of our ancestors in Germany.”
Steinmeier was speaking to the descendants of Chief Songea Mbano, a leader of the Maji Maji Rebellion that occurred from 1905 to 1907.
More than 200,000 indigenous people were executed in the uprising amid German forces eradicating their villages and fields, according to multiple accounts of the events. During the colonial era, Tanzania, previously Tanganyika, was a colony in German East Africa. According to CNN, Mbano was brutally killed by hanging and beheading during the conflict.
“I am aware of the great burden the fate of Chief Songea still places on your people today, and what anguish it causes his family. I sense how deeply the pain of his death and of how he was murdered is felt to this day,” Steinmeier continued.
“And I understand that this cruel deed has left its mark on many generations and still continues to echo in your families. And yet, it is a story that we in Germany, of all people, know too little about. We know very little, even though Songea stood for the revolt of many other Tanzanians against the German colonial power.”
In his speech, Steinmeier pledged that he would aid in locating the skull of Mbano, although he noted that it’s a complicated process. In September, a museum in Berlin vowed to return human remains stolen for research during that era back to Tanzania. And although Tanzanians have acknowledged the apology, many still await the skulls for proper closure.
“They should return them here with all honors so they can be buried according to tradition,” historian Mohammed Said emphasized in an interview with DW.
According to the outlet, one of the descendants of Chief Songea Mbano agrees, adding that “it is our remains and it is our custom to bury everything and then we end our mourning days. We will not end crying if we do not bury our ancestors. That is our mission.”
Steinmeier is the latest leader to apologize for past atrocities. In July, Netherlands King Willem-Alexander asked for forgiveness for the country’s role in the slave trade. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also apologized last year.
Read the original story here.
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