Kapwani Kiwanga. Maji Maji

The Maji Maji Research Project collected testimonies from those who witnessed the Maji Maji War, as well as stories about the events that had been passed down. The project to write a history that had hitherto been oral was undertaken in 1968 – a bissextile year; a year of global uprisings: American civil rights, Paris, Mexico, Vietnam; Kingston, Jamaica…

Tanzania was enjoying its fourth year of existence and this research venture was undoubtedly in tune with its times. Whilst fashioning a national narrative, Maji Maji became a proto-national example, an instance of the defiance of foreign domination.

The project sent researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam to different regions to collect diverse experiences of the war.
Some explained that a protective medicine, maji, was brought to certain regions from distant areas. Some territory’s testimonies affirmed that they had not believed in the magic properties of maji, but were set on opposing German rule. As such maji was coincidental.
Certain people claimed they believed in the protective powers of maji, but claimed its power was neutralised because taboos had been transgressed.
Still others refused to oppose the Germans fearing their weaponry was too powerful. These tried to persuade others not to engage in what they feared was certain defeat.

Published by the Jeu de Paume
Bilingual French/English
64 pages, 15 x 21 cm, paperback, €14

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