There were four principle wars or campaigns fought by the Germans in East Africa. The Abushiri Rebellion in 1888 to 1890, the HeHe War in 1891 to 1898, and the Maji-Maji Revolt in 1905 to 1907 and World War 1.

Abushiri Rebellion

The Arabic traders, who had dominated the trade routes before the Germans, did not like the fact that the German East Africa Trading Company through treaties had gained control over trading posts and areas along the Indian Ocean coast. The Abushiri Rebellion began in 1888 and was started by Abushiri ibn Salim al-Harthi, a local wealthy Arab who united the Arab traders and local tribes in a common effort to remove the Germans. Following the heavy reprisals by the Germans and unable to defeat the better-armed Germans with spears and shields, the Yao and Mbungaan deserted Abushiri.

HeHe War

This perceived heavy-handed action led to resistance and revolt from the HeHe. They announced their independence from the Germans in the south central region of the colony in 1891. There leader was a young, aggressive and intelligent chief named Mkwawa. Armed with spears and a few guns, the HeHe had a notable victory against a German column. They rushed the column in an ambush and in an effort to force hand-to-hand combat. The askari, taken by surprise, were only able to get off one or two rounds before being set upon by the charging HeHe. This battle soon became a massacre with German resistance over within ten to fifteen minutes. The German commander Zelewski was one of the first killed along with 360 men of his command. Surviving this onslaught were only 3 Germans, 60 odd askaris and about 70 porters. The rebellious HeHe lost around 250 warriors. Even though Mkwawa had some success, in the end he was harassed, chased and cornered and he committed suicide in July 1898. The death of Mkwawa marked the destruction of the HeHe kingdom and power.

Maji Maji War

The Germans set out to organise their German East Africa. The local people believed they exercised their authority with disregard for any existing local hierarchy and tradition. Germany began levying head taxes in 1898 as well as relying heavily on forced labour to build roads, railways and accomplish various other tasks. This is now believed to have led to widespread discontent among the local population. In 1902 the governor also ordered each village to grow cotton as a cash crop. In 1905 a serious drought threatened the region. Hunger combined with opposition to the government's agricultural and labour policies, led to open rebellion against the Germans. The movement is believed to have started along the Rufiji River. The Germans ruthlessly dealt with the trouble spots and the natives faced with such a ruthless overlord turned to magic to fight the Germans. Led by a spirit medium named Kinjikitile Ngwale of the Matumbi told his followers to drink the magic potion and it is recorded that he gave his followers medicine that would turn the German bullets into water. This "magic war medicine" was in fact made up of water (maji in Swahili) mixed with Castor oil and Millet seeds. It is also alleged to have Cannabis in.

Several thousand Maji Maji warriors attacked the German cantonment there which, was defended by Lieutenant von Hassel with 60 African soldiers and a machine gun. This was the apex of the uprising and was promulgated by the Ngoni people. Many Maji Maji fighters were killed by machine gun fire. The revolt spread into the Ruvuma in the southernmost part. Kilwa, Songea, Masasi, Kilosa, Iringa and as far as the eastern shores of Lake Nyasa. The main brunt was borne by the Ngoni people at Mahenge, who had decided to join in the revolt with a force of 5,000 warriors. German troops, armed with machine guns, departed from Mahenge to the Ngoni camp. The Ngoni soldiers retreated, throwing away their bottles of war medicine and crying, "The magic "maji" is a lie!" It was a merciless rebellion and by far the bloodiest in Tanganyika history

The Maji-Maji rebellion left several hundred Germans and 75,000 natives dead. It also broke the spirit of the natives to resist and the colony remained calm until the outbreak of World War I. In Germany's defence in the wake of the war, the imperial government instituted administrative reforms so that, by the outbreak of the First World War, Tanganyika could be said to be among the better-administered European colonies in Africa.

World War 1

In East Africa, the Allies notably the British using settler conscripts, South Africans and local African troops fought against both the Germans in Tanganyika and the Italians in Abyssinia. A major battle was fought at Tanga amongst others.

The Battle of Tanga fought between the British and Germans. At the outbreak of the First World War, the Germans authorities regarded their premier Colony with equanimity. Understandably it was cut off from outside communication but it had been organised against any attack that could be made. For the first year the Germans were able to carry the war into neighbouring Allied territories and repeatedly attack railway and other strategic points in British East Africa.

Von Lettow, cut-off from Germany by the British Navy conducted a masterly guerrilla campaign. He used a Boer tactic that he is believed to have picked up whilst in German South West Africa (Namibia). He lived off the land and moving swiftly, repeatedly surprised the British. The British, deployed large numbers of Indian Army troops but they suffered logistical problems in supplying their army as it pursued the Germans deep into the interior.

The Honourable H. Burton, speaking in London in August 1918 said, "Nothing struck our commanders in the East African field so much as the thorough, methodical and determined training of the German native levies previous to the war." The German force that evacuated the Colony in December 1917 was estimated at the time at 320 white and 2,500 black troops. It is believed that 1,618 Germans were killed in the last six months of 1917 alone. At the close of War 155 whites and 1,168 Askaris surrendered.

A skilful and remarkably successful guerrilla campaign waged by the German commander Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck kept the war in Tanganyika going for the entire length of the First World War. A scorched earth policy and the requisition of buildings meant a complete collapse of the Government's education system

Recent history

In 1979 Tanzania declared war on Uganda after Uganda's president Idi Amin invaded and tried to annex the northern Tanzanian province of Kagera. Tanzania not only expelled Ugandan forces, but, enlisting the country's population of Ugandan exiles, also invaded Uganda itself. On April 11, 1979, Idi Amin was forced to quit the capital, Kampala. The Tanzanian army took the city with the help of the Ugandan and Rwandan guerrillas. Amin fled into exile