Battleground East Africa – Commemorations could trigger major tourism flow


(Posted 08th December 2018)

Asante Sana

The great War of 1914-1918 ended in Europe on 11th November 1918, but this was not the case in Africa where the East African Campaign ended 14 days later on the 25th November near the remote village of Abercorn (Mbala today) in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) when General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck agreed to the unconditional surrender and laid down his arms. Since he had the superior force to the British, he insisted that it should be ‘a laying down of arms’ and not a surrender, fearing that his troops would not agree and mutiny.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the East African Campaign of the First World War, the Tsavo Heritage Foundation, Sarova Hotels and Resorts and The Standard Media Group organised a weekend of commemorations in Taita Taveta County in Kenya (where the first 21 months of the war took place) between the 23rd to 25th November. Guerrillas of Tsavo attended all the events.

Services of Remembrance were held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemeteries at Voi and Taveta as well as at the Indian Memorial at Maktau. In the spirit of Peace, Friendship and reconciliation; the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr Nic Hailey laid wreaths jointly with the German Ambassador to Kenya, Mrs Annett Günther.

Wreaths were also laid Mr Jonathan Ball, Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, and by the Military Attaches from Britain, Germany, France and Belgian.

The new memorial to remember the unknown African Soldiers and Porters of the First World War, which was proudly erected at the Mashoti Fort by Sarova Hotels and Lodges, was officially unveiled by Hon (Retired) Major Madoka.
At least seven family members of men who had served during the East African Campaign were present for the Commemmorations:

  • Mr Felix Hagedorn, the great grandson of General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, his wife Ike and 18month old Amelia travelled from Scheswig-Holstein in Northern Germany to attend the colourful commemorations.
  • Mrs Gillie Dugeon, Granddaughter of Major Eric Lawrence Lindsay of 4 Kings African Rifles (He volunteered in 1914 and originally joined Bowkers Horse, East African Mounted Rifles). Lindsay was at Mbala for the Laying down of Arms on the 25th November 1918 and took many of the photos that survived of the day.
  • Mr Chris Angell, whose great uncle served as an intelligence scout with the British Forces.
  • Mrs Betty Archer, her husband’s god father was Mr Hugh La Fountain who fired the first shot from the old Police Station at Taveta.
  • Mr Joseph Sayio, a game ranger at the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, whose great uncle was a solider with the Kings African Rifles.
  • Mr Malte Sommerlatte whose family member was a rigger on the first aborted flight of Zeppelin L59 that was sent to resupply the German Schutztruppe.
  • Professor Iraki whose grandfather was a porter with Carrier Corps under the Kikuku Mission Volunteers.
Thank you to the Standard Media Group for the amazing coverage both live and recorded, of the Commemorations. Visit their Youtube Channel and search for WW1 to see their reports. BBC also covered the weekend event with coverage seen on all four continents.

The East African Campaign Display at Taita

The weekend also saw the official opening of the colourful new East African Campaign Artefact Exhibition at the Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge. The Exhibit which was jointly opened by the British High Commissioner and German Ambassador, tells some of the story of the East African Campaign and the role of the African Carrier Corps.
Along with the eyecatching information panels there are a range of interesting items on display include a diorama based on Mashoti Fort; a bed frame from the SMS Konigsberg and a First World War Crown Agents issue Cavalry Horse Saddle as well as some of the military detritus recovered from the battle grounds and camps.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to making this exhibit happen including BATUK, Tropical Ice Safaris, Friends of Fort Jesus, Pollmans Tours and Safaris, Seaforth Shipping, Old Africa, Osprey Publishing UK, German Embassy – Nairobi, Coastweek Newspaper, Fargo Courier, Kesom Freight International. Great War in Africa Association, Theater of War UK, Keystone Enterprises, Branding Concepts and Sarova Hotels.
Guerrillas of Tsavo would like to give a very special thank you to the incredible team at Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge for their support and encouragement in developing the exhibit which will now remain open for the foreseeable future. Please do visit this free exhibit next time your in the area.

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Guerrillas of Tsavo book is available from:

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Kenya Museum Society Shop – Nairobi
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Johari Glass Gift Shop – Diani Beach
Between the Lines – Nairobi
Great War in Africa Association – UK
Polka Dots Art Gallery – Karen
Juttsons – Nanyuki
Paper Connections – Mombasa
BookStop – Nairobi
Aero Club – Nairobi
Kant Stationers – Mombasa
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