Kaiser Wilhelm

Name ID 713

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Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 18a
Extract Date: 1996 July 03

the border between Tanzania and Kenya

When Kaiser Wilhelm said to Queen Victoria that it was unfair that she had two mountains, she gave him one. If you look at the border between Tanzania and Kenya on a map, you will see how the line was redrawn to give Kilimanjaro to the German King. The missionary John Rebmann first saw the snows of Kilimanjaro on the 11th of May 1848. He said it was called the 'mountain of the caravans' by the Arab slave traders who used the mountain as a landmark while crossing the interior. The local Wachagga people call it Kibo (snow) and in Swahili, mwalima is mountain and ngara means to shine.

Extract ID: 3645

See also

Briggs, Philip Guide to Tanzania

A partition was agreed in 1886

A partition was agreed in 1886, identical to the modern border between Kenya and Tanzania. You may read that Kilimanjaro was part of the British territory before Queen Victoria gave it to her cousin, the Kaiser, as a birthday present. This amusing story was possibly dreamed up by a Victorian satirist to reflect the arbitrariness of the scramble. It is a complete fabrication.

Extract ID: 397

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Bechky, Allen Adventuring in East Africa

Continued English disdain for Germany

Continued English disdain for Germany later gave rise to a great tale about Kilimanjaro. The well-known story goes that Kaiser Wilhelm wrote to Queen Victoria asking that Kili be assigned to German East Africa. He pleaded that the British Crown Colony already had one snow-capped peak in its Kenyan domain, while Germany had none. The Queen, in a typical English spirit of fair play, magnanimously assented, giving the mountain as a birthday gift to her grandson, the future Wilhelm II. It's a great yarn, one that has endured the test of time. But there is no truth to it. Carl Peters had sneaked into Tanganyika and persuaded various Chagga chieftains to sign treaties agreeing to cede their territories to his Society for German Colonization.

Extract ID: 399

See also

Else, David Trekking in East Africa

governments of Germany and Britain agree

In 1886, when the governments of Germany and Britain agreed on a border to officially define their territories, the line they drew - from Victoria to the coast - was perfectly straight, broken only by an untidy curve around Kilimanjaro. This divided the original British territory claimed by Johnston, now in Kenya, from the rest of the area around Kilimanjaro, now in Kenya.

You may be told that the border curves around Kilimanjaro because Queen Victoria gave the mountain to Kaiser Wilhelm (her grandson) as a birthday present. While such an action would have been no different to the arbitrary partitioning of East Africa by these two monarch's own governments, there is no evidence that this story is true. But it remains one of the popular myths that add to the mystique and attraction of Kilimanjaro.

Extract ID: 401

See also

Baker, Richard St. Barbe Africa Drums
Page Number: 18
Extract Date: 1886

the Switzerland of Africa

One dull grey afternoon towards the end of the reign of Queen Victoria two young Foreign Office officials were shown into Dr. Stock's room in a house in Salisbury Square. It was the head-quarters of the Church Missionary Society and Dr. Stock was the General Secretary. This little man, with clear blue piercing eyes, heavy eyebrows, high forehead and gentle voice, had a profound knowledge of almost every part of the globe. In the course of his long service he had visited missionaries in their stations all over the world, and it was his business to keep in touch with his workers.

I knew him and I have never met anyone with such a grasp of his work. He knew the names and addresses and facts relating to all the stations wherever they might be. It was he himself who told me the story I am now relating.

"Doctor Stock," said one of the young men, "do you know a mountain in Africa called Kilimanjaro?"

"Yes, of course," answered Dr. Stock. "That is the Switzerland of Africa. That is where we send our missionaries from the coast to recuperate when they get run down with fever."

"That is a pity, a great pity," said the first young man. And the other repeated:

"That is a pity indeed."

"But I don't understand you," said Dr. Stock. "I wish to convey to you that the foothills of Kilimanjaro are extremely healthy. Why do you say it is a pity? I can't understand why you are so perturbed."

The young men looked at each other and hesitated and seemed to be consulting one another as to whether they should explain the full significance of their visit. They decided to do so, and:

"We said 'what a pity,'" said the first one, "because we have just given it to Germany."

At Dr. Stock's movement of surprise he went on. "You see," he said, "Kaiser Wilhelm said to Queen Victoria, I'd very much like to have the tallest mountain of Africa on my side of the boundary,' and the Foreign Office, speaking for Her Majesty, have replied, 'You shall.' This they have done without knowing anything about it. It was as an afterthought that we were sent to you this after-noon."

It was Dr. Stock's turn to say "That's a pity." He told them they should have come before. But it was too late. That imaginary line cut straight through the African territory up to the Great Lakes had one kink in it, where it skirted the foothills of Kilimanjaro, leaving this nineteen-thousand-foot mountain on the German side.

Extract ID: 3125