The Maji Maji Uprising in Tanganyika was the most significant African challenge to German colonial rule during the brief period when Germanyhad African colonies. The Uprisinglasted two years and involved people over 10,000 square miles.
During the "scramble for Africa" that began with the Treaty of Berlin in 1885,European powers dominated much of Africa,carving out vast territories as their own and establishing often brutal regimesto enforce their rule. Four major regions had been colonized by Germany, including Tanganyika(modern-day Tanzania), Togo, Cameroon,and Namibia.Tanzaniahad been acquired largely through the efforts of the German ColonizationSociety, founded by Dr. Karl Peters. When Germanyestablished its control over Tanganyikaby 1898, it imposed a particularly violent regime in order to control thepopulation, including a policy of killing kings who resisted German occupation.This earned Peters, who was now the Tanganyika colonial governor, thename "Milkono wa Damu," meaning "Manwith Blood on His Hands." Throughout this period of German occupation theAfrican population was also subjected to high taxation and a system of forcedlabor, whereby they were required to grow cotton and build roads for theirEuropean occupiers.
The oppressive regime bred discontent amongthe Africans, and resentment reached a fever pitch in 1905 when drought hit theregion. A prophet—Kinjikitile Ngwale—emerged, who claimed to know the secretto a sacred liquid that could repel German bullets called "Maji Maji," whichmeans "sacred water." Thus, armed with arrows, spears, and doused with MajiMaji water, the first warriors of the rebellion began to move against theGermans, attacking at first only small German outposts, such as at Samanga, anddestroying cotton crops. The rebellion spread throughout the colony, eventuallyinvolving 20 different ethnic groups all of whom wished to dispel the Germancolonizers. As such it was the firstsignificant example of interethnic cooperation in the battle against colonialcontrol.
The apex of the