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Our Demands

Grave of Songea Mbano within the Maji Maji museum in the town of Songea

List of demands on the occasion of the visit of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Songea (Tanzania) on 01.11.2023


Tanzania was part of the colony "German East Africa" from 1885 to 1918. Violence, illegitimate land seizures, civilising missions, exploitative policies and interventions in established socio-cultural systems left their mark in Tanzania as well as in Germany.

Many East Africans resisted the Germans from the beginning and challenged colonial rule. It is estimated that there were between 50 and 60 armed clashes, the most notable of which were the resistance struggles of the East African coastal population (1888-1890) and the Wahehe (1891-94), and the Maji-Maji War (1905-1907/1908), which culminated in one of the largest wars of extermination in German colonial history. When a broad resistance movement emerged in southern Deutsch-Ostafrika (now Tanzania), German troops bloodily crushed it, using a scorched-earth policy to destroy fields, seeds, wells and entire settlements. It is estimated that up to 300,000 people died in the fighting, executions and starvation.

For the people in the affected communities, the consequences of the Maji Maji war are still felt today in many areas of daily life, culture and society. For example, as a legacy of colonialism, the areas of southern Tanzania (i.e. the theatre of war) are poor compared to the rest of the country, with higher infant mortality rates and lower per capita incomes. Through the exploitative plantation economy, the German colonialists destroyed subsistence farming systems and created dependencies that continue today. For many Tanzanians, the Maji Maji War is an important symbol of national identity, as it united different ethnic groups against the colonialists. At the same time, the events continue to have a traumatic and intergenerational impact. The descendants of the murdered resistance fighter Songea Mbano, for example, are still searching for his head, which was taken to Germany for racist pseudo-scientific research.

Dealing with colonial history

Against this background, the undersigned organisations expressly welcome Federal President Frank-Walter-Steinmeier's visit to Songea, where he will visit the Maji-Maji Memorial Museum and thus the graves of the resistance fighters of the Maji-Maji war, and hold talks with their descendants.

In his speech at the opening of the German Historians' Day on 19 September 2023 in Leipzig, the Federal President explicitly called on Europeans to take a self-critical look at their responsibility for colonialism. The current coalition agreement also explicitly places coming to terms with colonialism on the agenda of the present coalition government.

In various contexts, however, we are currently experiencing that in this task more importance is attached to symbolic acts than to concrete, sustainable and binding measures in joint agreements with the Tanzanians that do justice to the people in the former German colonies.

The undersigned actors and organisations therefore urge the Federal President to find clear words during his visit to Songea and to use it to express Germanies apologies to the descendants of the victims of the Maji-Maji war and all colonial crimes committed by Germans in the former "German East Africa". Such an apology is a prerequisite for any concrete work of remembrance and indispensable for sustainable German-Tanzanian cooperation, be it at the political, institutional or civil society level.

For many years, civil society groups as well as academic and church actors have been calling for Germany's colonial injustice to finally be recognised as such and systematically dealt with.

On the occasion of President Steinmeier's visit, we therefore renew our demands to German politicians at federal and state level.

In addition to an apology, we demand

  • The return of all cultural treasures taken to Germany during the colonial period
  • The repatriation of all ancestors/body parts from Tanzania that were taken to German collections.
  • A law obliging German institutions to repatriate ancestors.
  • The establishment of a council of experts, composed mainly of representatives of the societies of origin, to accompany the legislative process.
  • The establishment of a repatriation centre in Tanzania for the exchange of knowledge, provenance research and as a contact point for descendants and communities.
  • The initiation of negotiations with the Tanzanian communities/regions particularly affected by German colonialism and with the Tanzanian government on compensation for these communities.
  • The long-term provision of funding for
    • further DNA analysis to identify ancestors deported to Germany
    • the return of ancestors to their descendants
    • the restitution of cultural assets  
    • the promotion and expansion of German-Tanzanian cultural cooperation
    • the support of civil society initiatives in Tanzania and Germany in this process
    • the establishment and maintenance of colonial memorials in Germany and Tanzania
  • Critical reflection on Germany's colonial past and current images of Africa, for example by making the active debate on racism an obligatory part of teaching in schools and state educational institutions.

We believe that the measures outlined here are decisive steps on the path to reconciliation and justice.

The following actors and organisations support the above demands:

  • e.V.
  • Berlin Postcolonial
  • Flinn Works
  • Augsburg Postcolonial
  • München Postkolonial
  • Leipzig Postkolonial
  • Decolonize Berlin e.V.
  • AfricAvenir e.V.
  • Bantu e.V.
  • Schupa Tansania e.V.
  • Pambazuka Swahili Kulturverein e.V.
  • Verband Afrodeutscher Gründer
  • Verena Holzapfel, Frauke Nesemann, Franziska Fay, Friederike Kruse, Michael Binder, Ellen Rehder, Camilla Nägler, Dorothee Vakalis, Klaus Bathen, Gerda Finke, Elke Fölster-Mercer, Johannes Macho, Helmut Forberg, Gerald Fiebig, Fritz Gleiß, Renate Wegener, Birgit Merz, Nicole Kraemer, Ludwig und Adelheid Gernhardt, Kathrin Schultze-Gebhardt, Arnold Kiel, Regina Misiok-Fisch, Elisabeth Keuten, Friedhelm Evermann, Heike van HŌKELOM, Prof. Dr. Rolf Hofmeier, Nadja Heidrich, Daniel Koßmann, Christiane Rimroth, Steffi Grohmann-Louizou, Dr. Frank Beier, Christoph Beier, Thomas Schiffgens, Johann Prem-Seydel, Dr. Anton Knuth (Missionsakademie Universität Hamburg), Fanny Sigler, Martin Forberg, Robert Faust (Eine-Welt-Laden der KJG Mömlingen), Jan Dammel (Uni Potsdam), Kristin Appelhans, Andreas Reiffenstein (Eine-Welt-Laden der KJG Mömlingen), Annette Bathen (Rafiki Yangu e.V.), Gabriele Schmitz, Sonja Tesch, Carsten Kramer, Natalie Volkwein (DTP e.V.), Rainer Beuthel (Die Linke / Eckernförde / Ortsprecher), Thereza Kwayie, Janos Klieber, Simon Klieber, Petra Gugat, Thomas Fagin, Yeboah-Marfo, Barbara Lembcke, Maria Merz, Manuela Voelkering-Hilbring, Mduduzi Khumalo (Plus X Blackdefinitionmatters), Karsten Schumacher, Hubert Tschuschke, Michael Kraus, Olivia Klimm, Andreas Gugat, Sarah Ewald, Birgit Joosty-Grant, Christa Maria Bauermeister, Tahir Della (Pressesprecher isd Initiative Schwarzer Menschen in Deutschland), Larissa de Freitas Campos, Celina Wehrmann, Maria Sauter, Matthias Mehlhorn, Birgit Mehlhorn, Franziska Sievers, Franziska Labinsky, Lucia Mast, Ulrike Bergermann (HBK Braunschweig), Martina Sievers, Judith Ernst, Daniela Billing, 


Status 26.10.2023


Bildquelle: Grave of Songea Mbano within the Maji Maji museum in the town of Songea, by Downluke - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Go to: Expectations for President Steinmeier's Visit