101ST ANNIVERSARY OF FLIGHT IN KENYA GIVEN HIGH PROFILE RECOGNITION
(Posted 14th September 2016)
October 08th has been set for a major celebration in Kenya’s Taita Taveta County, to recognize the 101st anniversary of flight in not just Kenya but the entire East Africa.
As repeatedly written about here, did the ‘Battlefield East Africa‘ – the Taita Taveta area of Kenya was the scene of bloody skirmishes and engagements between the Germans under Von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Allies, eventually led by General Jan Smuts – trigger the arrival of the railway through a branch line from Voi but also the introduction of aircraft as tools of surveillance.
The rail line was hugely important to facilitate regular supplies of food and ammunition and to evacuate the wounded to hospitals in Voi and Mombasa while the eventual arrival of Caudron Gills, BE2C’s and Henry Farmans aircraft provided the last nail in the coffin as the Germans withdrew from their positions on Kenya’s Salaita Hill once these aircraft began to overfly them to ascertain their strength.
Under the spotlight of this correspondent for several years prior to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I has information been brought to the fore that the Taita Taveta area could be for Kenya what the memorial sites in France’s Verdun and the Somme are for Europe. If given the right facilitation by government it could lead to the preservation of the remnants of the century old fortifications, could create a specially marked visitor trail and perhaps declare the sites national monuments to give them a protected status.
It could also become the venue for a memorial site for the fallen Africans dragged into a conflict which was not of their making, something which is lacking until today as this part of pre-independence Kenyan history has been pushed aside and was, until James Willson Esq. published his book ‘Guerillas of Tsavo‘ almost forgotten but certainly ignored by the powers that be.
It would provide a perfect opportunity to honour the memory of a reported 100.000 African servicemen on both sides who died in battle and of other causes, but have, unlike the Europeans and Asians, never been recognized through the establishment of war cemeteries nor were they given a special site where a grave of the unknown African soldier had been erected.
Thankfully has the Taita Taveta County Government, both last year for the centenary commemoration and this year for the 101st anniversary of the first flights in Kenya, taken some initiative to recall events and give the sites and the dates visibility.
The Sarova Taita Hills Lodge, not far from Maktau, offers added insight into those days a hundred years ago, as General Manager Willie Mwadilo has set aside a room to house the finds from the battlefields where he put a collection on display, supported by maps and illustrations.
Additionally is James Willson’s book today a reference tool for anyone with an interest in the East African war theatre and what happened back then, overshadowed by the big battles on Europe’s own battlefields but nevertheless historically important as it rang in major geopolitical changes when the defeated Imperial Germany lost its East African colonies of Tanganyika and Rwanda ‘Urundi.
For added information click on the article links below: