Songea town is famous for its history of the first African resistance against German colonialization of Tanzania over 105 years ago. A National museum has been erected at Mahenge area in the same township to commemorate the hanging deaths of 70 Africans by German Administration. The Museum in songea stands at the burial place where Ngoni and Matengotribes warriors were buried in a mass grave behind the museum building.
Songea has been identified by its rich tourist’s attractions, mainly cultural heritage, historical sites, and scenery.
Among such attractions are the matongo forest reserve, Luhira Game reserve, the German Boma (castle), originally built in Songea town in 1902, and the African warriors hanging tree. Songea town has already been declared the historical and heroic town for tourists adventure and is located over 1000 kilometers from Dar es Salaam.
MAJI MAJI MUSEUM
Majimaji is the only Museum in the country that portrays the history of the majimaji war and the only place which preserves the original weapons used by the respective fighters. It is the only museum in the region that conserves and preserves some of the original tools and weapons used by the Ngoni and Matengo warriors during the majimaji war.
History of the Majimaji war:
The majimaji rebellion came about as a result of local tribes in the south eastern part of the country, notably the Matumbi, Yao, Ngoni and Mwera tribesmen rejecting the German colonial occupation of this part of Africa at the turn of the 19th century. The Germans who took control of a large chunk of land in what is present day Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, ruled the native citizens with an iron fist. The Germans selected local chiefs from within the tribes men and turned them into German government agents, forcing them to collect taxes for their emperor Kaiser.
The local chiefs were beaten 25 times in a punishment known as “Hamsawaishirini” with a leather whip made from hippopotamus skin if they failed to collect taxes from the tribesmen, even when there was a shortfall of just five cents. Native were forced to work for Germans without pay and would be hanged for the slightest of mistakes.
Resistance erupted from virtually all corners of the country to refuse subjugation; from the southern kingdoms of the “’Wamatumbi” and “Wahehe” to the north eastern highlands of the “Chagga” and “Shambala” from the thorny plains of the “Wagogo” and Nyamwezi” in Dodoma and Khaze, to the “Ngoni” and “Matengo” in Songea, Ruvuma region.
The majimaji festival celebrates part of these heroic fights. In 1902 the governor of German East Africa, count Adolf von Gotzen (1866 – 1910), ordered Tanzanian villagers to grow cotton as cash crop. The native Tanzanians turned to African spirituality and magic to drive the Germans out of Tanzania.
The leader of the rebellion was a spirit medium named KinjikitileNgwale, who called himself Bokero and claimed to be possed by a snake spirit called Hongo. Bokero began to spread the idea that the people had been called upon to eliminate the Germans. The revolt was named after a medicine called maji that purportedly gave African fighters immunity to German bullets. Although this ”war medicine” was infact nothing but water mixed with castor oil and millet, the disscemination of the maji ideology spread a message of common opposition and resistance to German colonial rule.
Believing themselves empowered with this medicine, Bokero’s followers began the majimajirevolt .
Armed with cap guns, spears and arrows, and wearing millet stalks around their heads, they set out from the Matumbi hills in southern and attacked German garrisons throughout the colony. Along with the Matumbi, the Mbunga, Kichi, Ngoni, Ngido, and pogoro joined the rebellion in German East Africa. Although fewer in number, German forces of European and native soldiers used superior fire power to their advantage, and several thousand majimaji rebels were cut down by machine gun fire. The magic water that they though would protect them from the German guns failed. How over, the fight in several areas was bitter. whenKinjikitileNgwale was executed by German troops on August 4, 1905, another spirit medium continued to lead the revolt. The rebellion continued when the Ngoni people joined in the revolt with a force of 5,000 but they were no match to German guns when they were attacked.
The Germans destroyed villages, crops and other food sources used by the rebels in a scorched earth policy, leading to the deaths of an estimated 250,000 from famine. The defeat of the Ngoni marked the end of any serious resistance.
By April 1906, the south west of German East Africa was pacified, but it was not until August of 1907 that the rebellion was effectively stamped out. The after math of majimaji revolt had important implications for German rule until the end of world war I in 1918, when the area became British territory.
NOTICE BOARD OF RUVUMA REGION
What to do and see:
Visit livingstone mountains
visit lake nyasa
visit Ruvuma River
Visit Songea museum and Many more