FACTORS OR CAUSES OF MAJI MAJI WAR

The Maji-Maji rebellion was a mass uprising against German rule in Southern Tanganyika.




The term Maji-Maji is derived from the Swahili word: Maji, which means Water. It stemmed from the magic water (millet and maize flour mixed in water drawn from river Rufiji), which Kinjekitile Ngwale of Ngaramba: a priest
who established himself near river Rufiji and claimed protection by a spirit called Hongo, sprinkled the resisters with, to protect them from German bullets.

communities that were involved in the Maji-Maji uprising.

  • The Zaramo,
  • The Matumbi,
  • The Bena,
  • The Ngindo,
  • The Pogoro,
  • The Bunga,
  • The Ngoni,
  • The Luguru,
  • The Wamwera,
  • The Ndendeule.




What were the causes of the Maji-Maji rebellion

  • Heavy taxes imposed on them by the German East Africa Company to raise revenue for the administration of the German protectorate. The Matumbi of Northwest Kilwa felt that the Germans should have instead paid them for using their land.
  • Brutality of the Arab Swahilis employed by the German east Africa company to collect Hut tax and recruit labourers.
  • Forced labour and the mistreatment that accompanied it. While at work on cotton fields, roads and even settlers‟ farms, the Africans were whipped and humiliated in their relatives‟ presence. Akidas or Jumbes who treated Africans leniently were flogged too.




  • Oppression, false accusation and torture of Africans by company officials. E.G. Drinking traditional liquor, which in the African eye was not offensive, was punishable with as many as 25 strokes of the cane by the Germans.
  • The Germans and their house-boys disregarded and broke the Ngindo taboo against rape, fornication and adultery, stirring up anger and resentment among the local people, for such crimes were punishable by death.
  • Discredit to and profaning traditional African beliefs, practices and sacred places by Christian missionaries.
  • Land-alienation, especially in the Usambara, Meru and Kilimanjaro areas, where German settlers snatched massive tracts of land and took up farming from Africans upon completion of the railway lines.
  • Kinjekitiles installation of confidence in the Africans by assuring them of immunity to bullets, thus uniting them against the Germans.
  • German introduction of communal cotton growing schemes, on which Africans were compelled to work at the expense of their own farms, due to which African food security dwindled, a situation that was worsened by the fact that the locals paid the money they earned back to the Germans as tax.




  • Subjection of locals in dry southern areas that were unsuitable for agriculture to cotton growing, which caused them heavy losses due to crop failure and more disappointment since cotton was not an edible crop.
  • The locals wanted to guard their independence.
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