Paramount Chief Mkwawa

Name ID 404

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 03h
Extract Date: 1860-1880

A formidable clan

Between 1860 and 1880 a formidable clan rose to power in the Southern Iringa Mufindi region when the head of the Muyinga family, Munyigumba of the Hehe united more than 100 clans into a single politically centralised society. Defending his territory against constant raids by the Ngoni, whom he virtually annihilated, he was succeeded at his death around 1880 by Paramount Chief Mkwawa who extended his dominion and won more wars against the southern Mshope Ngoni whilst halting the cattle-raiding Masai from the North.

His kingdom covered 14,000 square miles between lfakara and Kilosa in the East to Lake Tanganyika and Nyasa in the West and up to the Ruhinga - Kilombero river. He fortified his capital in Kalenga with an 8-mile long 12-foot high wall, organised armed camps, military service and encouraged agricultural irrigation techniques.

He was to become one of the staunchest opponents of German colonisation and was a courageous ruler much revered by Tanzanians.

Extract ID: 4000

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 06b
Extract Date: 1891

More revolt

They were however about to face more revolts in the interior.

Starting in 1891, Nyamwezi Chief Isike fought the Germans in Tabora region in the Western part of Tanganyika. Defeated in 1892, rather than surrendering, he blew himself up in the armoury of his fort in January 1893.

Trouble flared up north with the Chagga and in central Tanganyika with the Gogo, but two major prolonged wars challenged German rule for years: Mkwawa in southern Hehe land and the famous Maji Maji rebellion which inflamed a quarter of the country for more than a year.

The Germans had occupied Hehe country and following the massacre of a delegation sent by Mkwawa, he retaliated in 1891 by ambushing in Lugalo an armed column headed by Lieutenant von Zeiewski. He seized enough weapons and ammunition to keep up resistance for nearly 3 years during which the Germans prepared their assault: in October 1894 a well-organised expeditionary force under the command of Tom Prince, an English-born German officer, stormed Kalenga, the court town of the Hehe, defeated them and captured the town. Mkwawa escaped and in spite of an enormous reward of 5,000 rupees, he was not betrayed and continued harassing German troops with guerilla actions for 4 years until 1898. Trapped, he shot himself.

The Germans' exultation at this hard-won victory ran so high that they cut off Mkwawa's head which was sent for display to the Bremen Anthropological Museum in Germany, his body being returned to his people for ritual burial. In June 1954 his head was returned and handed over to Mkwawa's grandson. Chief Adam Sapi, who was to become the First Speaker of the independent Tanzania Parliament.

Extract ID: 4024