The County Government of Taita Taveta becomes the first to launch World War Centenary Commemorations Website in Voi.
The website launched on 8th August, will be used to give information on the events and the important battle field sites that one can visit.
The website dubbed as 100 Taita Taveta, ”Commemorating 100 years since world war war” explains that the 100 Taita Taveta Program is a program formed by the County Government of Taita Taveta, to commemorate the First World War Centenary through a range of activities starting from August 2014 to August 2018.
Through the website, the county seeks to strengthen the importance of appreciating, honoring and remembering of how the battles of the First World War affected our county in particular and the nation in general and to claim our county’s place in the world history of the First World War. World War 1 War left 50 million people dead over the scattered fronts of the world. A War that was dubbed, at the time “the War to end all Wars”.
Moreover the website outlines the Country’s role and sacrifice during the First World War and ensures that our country also participates in the World wide First War Centenary commemorations, the biggest historical event to date, in the 21st century.
Through the website, the county also seeks to renew and strengthen Taita Taveta County and nation’s bilateral relationships with Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and other countries with which our country participated with during the First World War.
The website also offers the First World War attraction sites in Taita Taveta, itineries, document archives, photo gallery video gallery and First World War history both in Taita Taveta and across the world.
The launch comes as the County Government of Taita Taveta is hosting these Centenary commemorations. Through its Ministry of Community affairs, Tourism, Trade and Industry, the County Government is hosting these commemorations nationally, with a chain of events starting from August 16th, 2014 and these commemorations will be marked annually for the next 5 years.
These commemorations will be held in conjunction with the Kenya national museum, the Commonwealth graves authority the Kenya Wildlife Services and many other stakeholders.
The County Government of Taita Taveta is home to some of the most important battlefields of the war in East Africa. In Taita Taveta County, the war started on 15th August 1914. The Germans occupied Taveta and built fortified outposts with an intention of blocking the British from using the Voi-Taveta Railway. Among the German outposts, was the Salaita Hill where a big battled was fought on 12 February 1916 after which the Germans retreated towards the Kenya -Tanzania boarder.
The other fortified German outposts were the Lotima and Riata Hills where a major battle was fought between 12th and 16th March 1916. These three hills and the sites of Mile 27, the fortifications near Maktau, the Mwashoti encampment and Mbuyuni are the First World War Battlefields in East Africa. Other important landmarks which are synonymous with the Great War are the Voi, Maktau and Taveta Commonwealth graves.
There is also a tale of a German woman sniper who was bitterly avenging the death of her husband, shooting the British soldiers from a point inside a hollow baobab tree. This baobab is to date the most shot at the tree during the First World War as evident from all the bullets marks from the British as they tried to take her out. This baobab is still standing and is a very important part of the pre independence history of the County.
It is apparent that since these opening shots in 1914 Taveta has very much relied on the infrastructure of its neighbor Tanzania to prosper. It has been virtually cut off from the rest of Kenya, following the abandonment of the 1915 built Military Railway; the Murka Kyanite Mine and the continuous deterioration of the A3 road linking Tanzania Tateta and Voi.
Other countries participating in this commemoration include Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Ireland, New Zealand Turkey and United Kingdom.