The complete filmtext english/german/kisuaheli PDF  

Please visit as well, where Is-Haka Mkwawa tells the story of his great-grandfather and the making of HEADHUNTING.

A film by Martin Baer, with Is-Haka Mkwawa, 2001

A young Tanzanian computer scientist, Is-Haka Mkwawa, great-grandson of the famous East African chief Mkwawa, goes "Headhunting" in European museums and archives, trying to figure out why German colonial officers took the head of his great grandfather a century ago to Germany, where it was finally found.

Tanzanian national hero Mkwawa fought the German colonialists for seven years before his death in 1898. German colonial troops cut off his head and sent the skull to Berlin. Twenty years later, a provision in the Versailles peace treaty demanded that the skull of the Hehe chief be returned to his people in East Africa. But the Germans refused for many decades to carry out this provision.

The Versailles Treaty:
Within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, ... Germany will hand over to His Britannic Majesty's Government the skull of the Sultan Mkwawa which was removed from the Protectorate of German East Africa and taken to Germany. "

The voyage takes Is-Haka Mkwawa and German filmmaker Martin Baer to various sites in Tanzania and Europe, where the colonial past is remembered in different manners. A bizarre chapter of German-Tanzanian history told as an odyssey through Tanzanian archives, British libraries, and German museums, seen through the eyes of a modern Tanzanian.

Martin Baer, Olaf Schröter
Germans in East Africa

Berlin 2001
224 pages, 66 illustrations 
ISBN 3-86153-248-4

Ch. Links Verlag
Schönhauser Allee 36
D-10435 Berlin
Tel: (49) 30-44 02 32-0
Fax: (49) 30-44 02 32-29

Over one hundred years ago, during the European scramble for Africa, Germany set out to conquer the part of East Africa that is today Tanzania. Instigated by the pipedreams of a German adventurer, Carl Peters, the colonial conquest would cost hundreds of thousand lives in the colony German East Africa, as it was then called. The colonists colonialists? conquered the country in a series of ruthless wars against the indigenous population. The most vehement opponents of the Germans were the Wahehe in the central and southern part of the colony. Under the leadership of the formidable Chief Mkwawa the Wahehe managed to resist the Germans for many years, inflicting one of the biggest defeats in colonial history at the battle of Lugalo in 1891. But even Mkwawa’s resistance was doomed, and in 1898 he killed himself to avoid being captured by the Germans. 
In an act of barbarism the German officers beheaded Mkwawa’s corpse dead body and took his skull to Germany. With the end of German rule in East Africa following defeat in World War I, the British took over. The story of Mkwawa and his skull  continued into the Versailles treaty, where Article 248 ordered the Germans to return it to the Wahehe people. A diplomatic game ensued that only ended in 1954 with the return of Mkwawa’s skull to Tanzania. The odyssey of the skull acts as a starting point for a research undertaken by German authors Martin Baer and Olaf Schroeter in collaboration with Mkwawa’s great-grandson, Is-Haka Musa Sapi Mkwawa.

“A highly historical work, written for a general readership.” (Die Zeit) 

„A book containing lots of new information – well worth reading. A first class historic representation of the fate of Mkwawa’s skull.” (Internationales Afrikaforum)

“Due to the many photos and the clear narrative this book is an aesthetic pleasure. Using many primary sources, the authors have managed to write a well researched book which is both exciting and understandable.” (analyse+kritik)