Maji Maji rebellion rose up in Tanganyika against the German rule and it began in 1905 and ended in 1907. It covered a large area of South East Tanganyika. It united a number of tribes in an area between Kilosa and Dar-es- Salaam. compared to other resistance wars in East Africa against colonialism, It was the most pronounced with diverse devastating and constructive effects.
The Maji-Maji rebellion derived its name from the Swahili word "Maji" meaning "Magic water" which was administered by the prophet called Kinjikitile Ngwale from River Rufiji. Kinjikitile was a Kololo priest or Spirit medium at Ngarambe who inspired the rebellion through his imposing personality.
The most active Tanganyika tribes in this rebellion included Pogoro, Mbuga, Ngoni and
Ngido people who were all united by Traditional religion. Within a matter of weeks the
rebellion had spread from River Rufigi area to Uluguru, Mahenge, Lukudeli and Kilombero
valley. It was a mass revolt involving not merely soldiers of traditional armies, but all the people including women and children.
Kinjikitile instilled discipline among his followers by promising them victory in the battle field and declared them not vulnerable to German bullets if they sprinkled river Rufigi waters on themselves before going for war. This water was administered by Kinjikitire himself and his assistants. The rebellion was organised along religious lines and the revolt was dominated by charismatic and revolutionary religious prophets who replaced the hereditary and conservative political leaders of South East Tanganyika.
CAUSES OF THIS UPRISING.
1. The people of southern Tanganyika were opposed to rule of lumbes and Akidas by the Germans. These local Swahili officials were employed as administrators, law enforcement officers and tax collectors. Their brutality was greatly detested everywhere and this united the people against the German administration. They seriously detested the cotton cash crop compulsory growing which policy was quite oppressive.
2. In their attempt to create a cash crop economy, the Germans undertook a hostile land policy in which they grabbed the most fertile land from its native owners. This land alienation united the people of South East Tanganyika in a rebellion against the Germans.
3. The people of South East Tanganyika had a long tradinoa of unity against the foreign invaders. They had resisted the N goni and Long Distance Arab traders who constantly raided them. This spirit encouraged them to resist the Germans. They especially hated any interference in their trade with the East African coast that had brought them a lot of Wealth.
In order to reduce the cost of administration, the Germans introduced taxation policy in Tanganyika. The natives were expected to pay taxes to support the central government and public works like roads, Schools. offices and railways. The Akidas and Jumbes who were used to collect these taxes used excessive force which amounted to the confiscation of property like cattle and goats in case offailure to pay.
Forced labour w.as another cause for the 1905-07 uprising in Tanganyika. The people were forced to work on plantations and public works for long periods under degrading conditions. The German labour policy was also very unrealistic. People who were employed on plantations were paid miserable rates. E.g. the Wopogolo people refused the
35 cents for a year's work. Besides this, labour defaulters were imprisoned for long periods during which they worked in plantations under humiliating conditions.
Tanganyika people also had political leadership grievances. Before the advent of Germans, they all had their traditional leaders and armies. The German administration had destroyed all the trade African political structures and replaced them with a more oppressive system. The Maji-Maji rebellion was therefore a determined struggle to regain their independence.
Need to defend their culture was also another cause of this war. Africans felt that they are duty-bound to defend their indigenous culture that the Germans were undermining. Its argued that the Germans pursued a policy of destroying African customs (which were savage) and replace them with modem ones. The Maji-Maji uprising was therefore a manifestation of cultural nationalism.
A need to revenge on Germans also forced some African communities to join the Maji- Majt rebellion. The Ngoni, for example, sought a revenge for Boma massacre of 1897 when their political leaders and generals had been treacherously imprisoned or shot by Germans. They also wanted to revenge on German missionaries who burnt the sacred huts of traditional priests on the grounds that these were heavens of witchcraft.
Africans were totally opposed to the sexual harassment of their wives by agents of German- rule. The Ngido people were particularly annoyed by the abuse of their women by mercenary soldiers in Germany army. Chabruma, the Ngoni king had a personal reason for fighting the German because they had given protection to young Ngoni man who had seduced one of his wives.
Perhaps the most important cause of this rebellion was the role of traditional religion. The kololo snake god cult passed rapidly over clans and ethnic boundaries and brought diverse tribes together under one common goal of fighting against Germans.
COURSE OF THE REBELLION.
Maji-Maji uprising began in 1905 when the Pogoro of Kitope refused to pick cotton. The Germans were caught by surprise. Plantations, missions, administrative bomas and Swahili Shops were all attacked and destroyed.
Several German planners, missionaries plus many government officials were killed. The coastal town of Samanga near Kilwa was looted and burnt down. In September 1905, the Ngoni joined the rebellion. But by then, re-enforcement from Germany and Somalia had already arrived. In many fierce battles the Ngoni staged a strong resistance to the Germans. Finally, at the battle of Uwereka half of the Ngoni soldiers were killed, while the Germans lost more.
After Uwereka, the Maji-Maji fighters settled down to a two-year guerilla resistance using ambushes, night attacks and using highly mobile forces which attacked the Germans in a surprise dawn attacks. The struggle was kept on by the Ngoni and the Matumbi who used hill tops to protect themselves against German garrisons.
The rebellion begun to slacken in 1906 when Chabruma-the Ngoni king was assassinated by a Ngoni rival. By 1907 the rebellion had been beaten into submission by ruthless German suppression. Many died because of the false Protection given by magic water.
The rebellion came to an end when Kinjikitile Ngwale and Mputa Gama the paramount chief of the Ngoni were captured and hanged.
REASONS FOR THE FAILURE OF THE MAJI-MAJI REBELLION.
I. The Germans used collaboration of some African chiefs against the rebellion. For example, some of the Hehe fought on the German side because their traditional enemies the Ngoni, Pogoro and Sangara joined the rebellion.
2. The Germans were better armed than the Maji-Maji warriors. They were armed with weapons like machines and howitzers. the Africans were armed with out-dated arms which could not match with the automatic weapons of the Germans e.g. the Matumbi had
8,000 guns but nearly all of them were out-dated. Maji-Maji warriors were armed With
bows, arrows and spears which could not have any impact on the Germans.
3 . The Germans defeated the rising by destroying the means to resist. This was through scorched earth policy that destroyed homes and farms hence causing starvation to the fighters.
4. The Maji-Maji was founded on false protection provided by Kinjikitile Ngwale with his spiritual powers and magic waters. Actually there was no magic in the waters and the protection he claimed was not forthcoming. The soldiers of the Maji-Maji were mainly armed with courage other than weapons. Some went to the battlefield without arms only with wet water sprinkled on their skins. This is why they died in large numbers.
Causes of the revolt;
1. The spark to the revolt was governor Cardew's hiking of Hut tax to unprecedented levels to meet the cost of colonial administration as Metropolitan British had not provided enough funds to his activities. He decided to introduce a Hut Tax of 10 shillings a year to be imposed on houses with more than three rooms and 5 shillings on smaller houses or Its equivalent in rice or palm Kernels.
This tax adjustment encountered a stiff opposition from the local chiefs. It has been introduced without their consent and it was interpreted as loss of independence which they hated most thus the revolt was to reverse this situation.
2. The problem of forced labour was another cause for Temne and Mende war. This arose as a result for the need of labour by the settlers and the colonial governments. These lacked manpower, yet there was a need to construct roads, railways as well as to works on plantations. The solution to them, lay m forcing the interior peoples to provide labour that certainly annoyed the Temne and Mende.
3. The cultural arrogance of the Creoles was another cause of the war. They were employed in the administration because of their education they had attained from missionary influence. The Creoles took themselves as superior to Afncans and regarded everything of Afncan tradition as Barbaric. This cultural arrogance was resented by the Mende and Temr e. Creoles were opposed to their Governor Cardew hence the war.
4. Another cause that is advanced to explain the outbreak of the hut tax war in SIerra Leoie m
1898 was land alienation It should be noted that by 1896 land ordinance act on land allocation, a!1 land in Sierra Leone With mineral resources was declared Crown land and that waste 01 inhabited land be allocated to white settlers. However, this met stiff opposition from the interior tribes which practiced shifting cultivation
5. With the influence of the Creoles in the interior, tae missionaries followed and began their operation in the interior amdng the Temne and Mende. With their teaching, the missionaries were neglected bythe Temne and Mende who argued that their teaching undermined the respect for their traditional institutions. The revolt thus was to expel the missionaries out of their land and to re-establish their traditional institutions.
6. Politically, the war was a popular desire for independence as governor Cardew once remarked:
" The Temne and Mende people were sick of domination of the white man as
reported by the District commissioners and the Frontier police force in Sierra Leone".
This was because the D.Cs in Sierra Leone that conflicted with the traditional authority of chiefs when people with no traditional authority and legitimacy were appointed into office. It was also common for the British aadministarators to punish without trial any chief considered disrespectful. Traditional chiefs were flogged, imprisoned, insulted and humiliated in all ways. The frontier police in Sierra Leone took the law in their hands. On top of this, these frontier policemen were recruited from former run away slaves and often tried to take revenge on their former masters.
7. in addition to all these, the chief judicial powers were greatly eroded. Justice was: administered by the District commissioners and their agents who were ignorant of the' customary law. People were imprisoned in a manner that did not conform with the law. The new administration L'1 Sierra Leone was also arrogant, inefficient and corrupt. This was. worsened by lack of personnel that caused the government to rely on the frontier police force.
8. Furthermore the Mende and Temne bitterly detested the Creole traders to whom they were first losing economic power. The British administration had placed the control of trade in the hands of Creole traders who were given licences. The Africans on the other hand were neglected. The Creole merchants fixed prices which the indigenous people resented and hence the beginning of the revolt.
9. Another cause that is advanced to explain the outbreak of the hut t.ax war in Sierra Leone in
1898 was land alienation. It should be noted that by 1896 land ordinance Act on land
allocation, all land in Sierra Leone with mineral resources was declared Crown land and that watse or inhabited land be allocated (0 white settlers.
The Creoles also suffered from different kinds of complex. for example, the) spoke "Krio" (English language Africanised) in disregard of the local languages This greatly made femne and Mende Temne and Mende discontented. They also dominated the frontier police force that had been established in 1890.
But their half caste background did not make them easily acceptable in the hinterland. This rejection increased their hostility as they ruled with a vengeance heart, bullied, looted and raged in the interior. H ence a cause for war.
The problem of forced labour was another cause for T emne and Mende war. ThIS arose as a result for the need of labour by the settlers and the colonial governments. These lacked manpower, yet .here was a need to construct roads, railways as well as to works on plantations. The solution to them, lay in forcing the interior peoples to provide labour that certainly annoyed the Temne and Mende.'
THE COURSE OF THE REVOLT.
The Temne and Mende war broke out in 1898. It was led by Bai Bureh ruler of the Temne State of Kassa. He and his people refused to pay the hut tax for which the police retaliated by attacking them which acted as spark to the war.
Being an experienced professional warrior who had hired out his military Services for over
30 years, Bureh organised a skillful guerilla war against the British expenditions through ambushes and bush fires. Bureh's target was the army and the police and he never harassed. Civilians whether a European or a Creole in this 9-month war. It was because of Bureh's gentility that his war has been described as a gentleman'S war.
When the Mende joined, the war became violent. The Mende declared a total war and massacred all the Creole missionaries or any Mende who collaborated with the whites was
slaughtered. Hundreds of foreigners were killed plus whoever was connected to the free town government. Those who dressed in a European style were also killed. Almost over
1,000 men, women and children were slaughtered and a lot of property destroyed.
The Mende were however not well organised by the Poro-secret religious educational and trading society with headquarters at Bumpe. Once the British destroyed this, the rebellion was suppressed.
More to this, by the end of 1898, Bai Bureh had given himself up. He was taken a prisoner to free town where he was welcomed by the Creoles as a Hero. The uprising was eventually suppressed by a powerful force consisting o'f the British and West Indian forces. The Temne and Mende had been defeated mainly as a result of military inferiority but not of poor organisation. This followed a period of firm British control over Sierra Leone.
1. Loss of life:
EFFECTS OF THE WAR.
The Mende launched a total war killing anyone linked to the white government. Over 1,000
Creoles, several Europeans, Americans and collaborators were slaughtered in the war. Even people who wore European style of dress were killed. The British forces equally murdered an equivalent number of the Temne and the Mende in the war.
2. Mistrust of Creoles:
The most significant effect of the war was perhaps the reduction in status and influence of the Creoles in the affairs of Sierra Leone and the rest of West Africa. Consequently many of the Creoles were forced out of Civil service and responsible positions in the economy, in the civil service and the church. Thus in 1892 Creoles held 50% of senior civil service posts while in 1917 these percentages had fallen to only 10%. E.g. governor Cardew laid down a policy that only Englishmen were to administer. The Creole influence was to be kept out such that the Temne and Mende remained uncreolised and therefore unspoilt.
3. The war ended with a complete subjugation of Sierra Leone and loss of independence. The Anglo-Creole partnership in administration and development of West. Africa came to believe that the role of the Creoles as intermediaries was quite unrealistic. '
4. There was also victimisation of African leaders:
Bai-Bureh was taken a prisoner only to be released later when he was sick and a weak man. Many African leaders were hanged or dethroned as collaborators got employed without considering their capability to serve.
5. After the suppression of the rebellion, with much aid from British and West Indian troops, the hut tax that the Temfie and Mende had fought to remove was enforced The defenceless people had now to pay without much resistance.
6. In all the Creoles lost most more than anybody else. Their death toll was higher than that of any other tribe. In the interior the Temne and Mende considered them as "Black English men". Thus they found themselves at cross roads and lacked a sense of belonging.
7. African chiefs were respected as the frontier police force because disbanded (dismissed), Many Africans now got a chance to be recruited in the.new police force.
8. The land laws were revised and the hut tax was reduced to favour the Temne and Mende, Thus although the Temne and Mende did Dot regain their independence, the-war restored a lot of their dignity. Their social, political and economic powers could now at least be recognised.
9, In commerce, the Creoles also lost their monopoly to big British trading firms that worked
With the African middlemen to exploit the natural resources of Sierra Leone.
10. Change of Creole education in the interior. .
It was the British intention to extinguish the Creole influence not only in Sierra Leone but also in the whole of British West Africa. This had a negative civilisation effect in stagnant' intenor societies. There were very few schools and even the type of educanon that was given was quite unprogressive. Thus after the war, Temne and Mende had to be trained purposely for tribal life that would support western civilisation but not Creole developmant
Because of these conflicts between Creoles and the British in the interior, by 1914 not even a single road had been constructed to connect the interior with Free town.
11. Emergence of indirect rule:
After the war, the reorganisation of the government gave way to indirect rule with Temne and Mende as the main African chiefs. The British appointed its agents to administer them. This hampered the levels of political, economic and social achievements that Creoles had achieved. The hut tax war generally affected the whole of Sierra Leone and her role as a nursery bed of West African civilisation collapsed.
In conclusion therefore, the hut tax war can be said to have been a result of the British negligence over the economic, political and social interests of the Temne and Mende. The indigenous people had lost their political power that they saw as the abuse to their traditional set up. The course of the war was violent relying on guerilla military tactics and African-traditional religion. Its effects were .too bitter and far-reaching not so much for the Temne and Mende who participated and lost the war but quite painful to the Creoles who had not even participated in the war.