Guard of honour from 3 Kenya Rifles at Voi Commonwealth Cemetery (Photo: www.guerrillasoftsavo.com)

Kenya remembers start of East Africa campaign in 1914

Posted on centenarynews.com on 01 September 2014
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The spread of the First World War to East Africa has been remembered with a series of Centenary events in Kenya.

Europe's colonies in Africa were drawn into the fighting almost as soon as the imperial powers went to war in 1914.

The first shots of the East African campaign were fired in southern Kenya, then a British controlled territory bordering German East Africa (now Tanzania).

Corporal Murimi Mwiti, on guard near the town of Taveta, was killed in an exchange of fire with German troops as they crossed the frontier on August 15th 1914.

As many as two million Africans are estimated to have been caught up in a campaign lasting until 1918, many conscripted as porters to carry ammunition and supplies for the colonial armies.

A wreath-laying at Taveta Commonwealth Cemetery marked the 100th anniversary of the first East African clash.  Two days of international commemorations, hosted by Kenya's Taita Taveta County, followed on August 28th and 29th 2014.

Centenary commemorations at Salaita Hill (Photo: www.guerrillasoftsavo.com)

Taita Taveta's Governor, John Mruttu, said his administration was committed to preserving and maintaining the region's historical sites.

He was speaking at Salaita Hill, captured by British and Commonwealth forces after a hard-fought battle in 1916 for control of ground opening the way to German East Africa.

Ceremonies also took place at Voi Commonwealth Cemetery and Maktau Indian Cemetery.

Senior diplomats represented the UK, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

British and German representatives laid wreaths at Taveta Cemetery, where war dead from both the UK and Germany are commemorated.

Campaigners are calling for Africans who died in the service of the European powers to be honoured with their own memorial.

German resistance in the East African campaign, led by General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, continued with a protracted bush war lasting beyond the formal end of hostilities in November 1918.   

His elusive force finally laid down its arms in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on November 25th when it heard of the Armistice that had come into effect two weeks earlier.

Sources: www.guerrillasoftsavo.com; Taita Taveta County; Wikipedia; various

Centenary News is grateful to www.guerrillasoftsavo.com for supplying pictures

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News