BATTLEFIELD TOURISM COMES TO KENYA’S TAITA TAVETA COUNTY
(Posted 13th October 2014)
When the first article about the Battlefields of East Africa was published here, it was 98 years and counting, followed by another feature when it was 99 years and counting and ahead of the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, aka World War I, a third article was added.
Since the first publication had James Willson Esq. published his book and all my articles paled in comparison, as he described in his book ‘Guerillas of Tsavo’ details and connects the dots across the battlefield as only a true aficionado can. His years of hard work paid off when his book was published, now already a reference book for war history students, as nowhere else are the events of the European war which came to East Africa described as accurately and in such great detail. The war sucked in tens of thousands of African into the maelstrom of history, forced to fight for their colonial masters, dying in battle and of diseases and exhaustion by the tens of thousands and yet were never given the recognition, vis a vis a war cemetery, which those who fell by their side from Europe, Australia, New Zealand or even India received. Admittedly there are in each country monuments to remember the Kings’ African Rifles but with due respect, much more has to be done, like establishing final resting places, perhaps under the auspices of today’s armed forces in East Africa and of course adding these events into the local history books as the great- or even great-great-grandfathers of today’s generation very likely had been pressed into service and more likely than not lost their live for a King or a Kaiser they never saw and never knew.
It is largely down to James work, and that of his supporters like Willie Mwadilo, General Manager of Sarova Taita Hills and Salt Lick lodges, that today tribute has been paid to the war dead and that gradually a sense of responsibility is emerging to give the remains of Africa’s war dead their own final resting place.
In his latest effort has James Willson now launched a Battlefield Tour itinerary and I am very pleased to be among the first to publish the details of that tour, which in years to come will hopefully form an integral part of any visit to the Taita Taveta area, the Taita Hills Lodge and Tsavo West National Park’s part leading to Lake Jipe, to Grogan’s Castle and to Lake Chala, all of course on the Kenyan side of the border which 100 years ago was a prized British colony.
Considering that tens of thousands every year visit the European battlefields of WWI and the European, Asian and Pacific battlefields of WWII, there sure will be enough students of war history, war buffs and even descendants who might want to set eyes on the African theatre and pay their respects. Safari Njema to all who go and visit!