Germany and Tanzania to open talks on colonial legacy

It is important that we agree on doing more research and adding more knowledge on what happened during the colonial period so that we can see how to turn a new page, Germany says

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Germany will open talks with Tanzania about the legacy of its three decades of colonial rule in the East African nation, the two countries’ presidents said on Tuesday.

Tanzanian politicians and activists have long pushed for reparations and the return of human remains from their country that are displayed in German museums.

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“We have discussed this in detail and we are ready to open negotiations to see how we are going to agree on the German colonial legacy,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said at a news conference with her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“I know there are families that are waiting for the remains of their relatives which are in several museums in Germany. The negotiations will guide us on how to do this well,” she said.

The remains are thought to have been acquired by researchers to carry out pseudoscientific studies.

Steinmeier, who is on an official visit to Tanzania, said he planned to meet people affected by the 1905-1907 Maji Maji rebellion against German colonial rule.

“It is important that we agree on doing more research and adding more knowledge on what happened during the colonial period so that we can see how to turn a new page,” he said.

Germany ruled mainland Tanzania, then known as Tanganyika, from the 1880s until 1918, when it was captured by British forces during World War One.

Tens of thousands of people died during the Maji Maji rebellion, most from hunger, after German troops targeted the local population’s food sources.

Germany apologized in 2021 for the slaughter of about 75,000 tribespeople in Namibia, in southern Africa, described the massacre as a genocide and agreed to fund projects there worth over a billion euros.

Britain’s King Charles is now visiting Tanzania’s neighbor, Kenya, where he is facing calls from activists to apologize and commit to reparations for abuses during Britain’s colonial rule there.

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