Germans in East Africa

"Headhunting – Germans in East Africa",
with Olaf Schröter, Berlin 2001, Ch. Links Verlag, 224 pages

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.

Press Reviews:

“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)