The headquarter of Chief Mkwawa

Official resident ..

Kalenga was the headquarter of Chief Mkwawa. His official residence and military base were inside a stone fort called Lipuli. Chief Mkwawa’s fortress was 12 feet high and eight miles long. The fort was built for four years, it is estimated that it was started in 1887 at a time when Chief Mkwawa knew about German activities near the coast. Chief Mkwawa got the idea from seeing other stone forts in Unyamwezi or the building of Arabs and Europeans near the coast.

When you visit Kalenga now, you will find a small museum housing Chief Mkwawa’s skull. The museum is also decorated with his weapons including clubs, spears, shields and guns. Outside the museum there are two tombs, there is a tomb of Chief Sapi Mkwawa the throne successor and that of Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa the grandson of Chief Mkwawa. About 500 meters from the museum you will find a tomb that holds the body of Commander Erich Maas. Commander Erich Maas was shot dead by one of the Hehe soldiers during hours of hand-to-hand fighting when Germans managed to break into the fort.

The mission to destroy Kalenga started in October 28th 1894 from Lugulu hill. The Germans bombarded Kalenga from Lugulu hill for two days. The Hehe fought hard to resist the German onslaught but on the 30th October the Germans managed to enter Mkwawa’s fort (Lipuli) and engaged the Hehe with bayonets. In the ensuing melee Mkwawa walked away from the fighting and Kalenga fell.The Germans had taken possession of the fort. They examined it, destroyed the weapon store, and removed some ivory and guns. The Germans hoped that destruction of the fort would be enough to make Chief Mkwawa come to terms. Once more they attempted to negotiate with him, but the Hehe continued to attack the Germans.

The Versailles Treaty ..

On the 19th of June 1954, fifty six years to the day of Chief Mkwawa’s death, Sir Edward Twining the then Governor of Tanganyika handed over his skull to Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa from the German government. The return of Chief Mkwawa’s skull was in accordance with the Versailles Treaty June 28, 1919: Part VIII Article 246.

“Within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, Germany will restore to His Majesty the King of the Hedjaz the original Koran of the Caliph Othman,which was removed from Medina by the Turkish authorities and is stated to have been presented to the ex-Emperor William II.

Within the same period, Germany will hand over to His Britannic Majesty’s Government the skull of the Sultan Mkwawa which was removed from the Protectorate of German East Africa and taken to Germany. The delivery of the articles above referred to will be effected in such place and in such conditions as may be laid down by the Governments to which they are to be restored.”




Kalenga, Iringa, Tanzania