Bokero was a medium who mysteriously arrived on the scene to brew a rebellion against the Germans in the summer of 1905–the Maji Maji Rebellion. Just a year prior, he disappeared from his Ngarambe residence where he went on a bit of a spiritual quest and claimed to have gained the ability to talk with the god Bokera via spiritual possession.
Maji Maji Rebellion
Through natural charisma, Bokero managed to develop a following in the region. Having lived under German rule, he had no love the colonial government. He would tell his followers to overlook bad blood between tribes and peoples and unify against Germany.
Bokero employed maji or war medicine to “power” his rebels. He told them that maji would make them invincible because the enemy’s bullets would turn into water upon contact. As it would out maji was simply water–possibly blessed–mixed with oil and seeds. Thanks to their trust in him, Bokero managed to hype the mixture and the Maji Maji Rebellion was ignited.
Since they were mostly farmers and villagers, Bokero’s rebels didn’t have the best weaponry. This was especially true for a war against a colonial force constantly at war. While Germany had guns, cannons, and sabers, the rebels had spears and arrows dipped in poison. What they had on their side was sheer number, doubling Germany’s force.
The rebels were successful in attacking several outposts and cotton fields early on. However, before the summer was out, Bokero was captured and found guilty of treason. Before being hanged in August 1905, he said that maji had reached throughout Tanzania. He would warn the Germans that it was too late to stop the rebellion.
Through his death, Bokero would become a national hero in Tanzania. His final words rang true as the Maji Maji Rebellion continued with his brother leading the charge.