4/2/1915 South Africa and Nyasaland: rebels crushed, an enemy invasion defeated

John Chilembwe’s rebellion in Nyasaland is over. The British colonial authorities moved swiftly to crush the insurrection and the revolt failed to attract mass support, never expanding beyond Chilembwe’s small group of associates. Chilembwe himself is killed while trying to escape into Mozambique. Many of his followers are summarily executed while others are taken into custody, for later trial and execution. The British also apply collective punishment against people in the area of the uprising, burning huts, confiscating arms and levying fines regardless of whether or not a person had been involved in the revolt. Because of Chilembwe’s millenarian Christianity, the authorities also shut down African churches operating outside white supervision.

In South Africa Manie Maritz’s pro-German Boer revolt is also over. Maritz himself is luckier than Chilembwe and manages to flee South Africa. His fellow insurgents surrender. The South African authorities treat these white rebels with greater leniency than Chilembwe’s comrades; the Boers are fined and imprisoned but not subjected to summary or judicial execution.

With these rebellions crushed the way is increasingly clear for an advance against the German colonies in southern Africa. Perhaps sensing this, the Germans in South West Africa decide to pre-empt the enemy by mounting their own mini-invasion of South Africa. At Kakamas the Germans clash with a South African force. Compared to European battles, this is little more than a skirmish, but the Germans are defeated and forced to retreat.

image source (The Soldier’s Burden)

2 thoughts on “4/2/1915 South Africa and Nyasaland: rebels crushed, an enemy invasion defeated

  1. Thanks for sharing. 2 minor points – the date should be 1915, not 1914. More significantly, the battle of Kakamas took place on 4 February, the day after Chilembwe was killed. Drawing a link between the two events is stretching things a little. The South Africans were well into their campaign against German South West Africa at this stage and the battle at Kakamas is better seen in this context than linked with rebellions. However, a point worth pondering upon. The early stages of the German South West Africa campaign definitely need more work done.

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  2. Thanks for pointing out the wrong year, a typo I have now corrected.

    It is a leap to claim any link between Kakamas and the Chilembwe rebellion; I get the impression that the Germans were completely unaware of it.

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