Monday, 29 July 2013

The Argi-Bargi Rebellion: The German pacification of Nyseneziland

Chapter 1 – Nysenezi beliefs
When Franz Mattengloss began his exploration of the area he later named Mankanika, he observed that the Nysenezi revered the vulture as a messenger to and from their main deity, the Sky God. This god, who was called Myrhd'k, was the most important of the gods worshipped by the Nysenezi. This importance was due to the fact that he brought light and warmth to the land, as well as chasing away the feared Night God, Nosee. Furthermore, the Nysenezi believed that when they died their spirits, which were contained within the flesh of their bodies, were carried up to become one with Myrhd'k by the vultures who ate their corpses.

The origins of this belief, which later became the basis of the Vulture Cult, are unknown, but anthropological research into Nysenezi folk-tales, oral history, and primitive art found in caves on the slopes of Mount Bloemintall indicates that the vulture was revered by the Nysenezi for over two thousand years before Mattengloss's explorations began.

Chapter 2 – The origins of the Vulture Cult
The Vulture Cult arose directly out of Mattengloss's explorations. From the earliest contact with the Nysenezi he noted that they were fascinated with the Imperial German Eagle that emblazoned the flag that he always carried with him. At first he failed to notice the similarity between the design of the Imperial German Eagle and the carved or painted images of the vulture that adorned all Nysenezi huts, but one night, when his Nysenezi guide asked where he had obtained such powerful 'magic', Mattengloss realised that the Nysenezi thought that the Imperial German Eagle was one of Myrhd'k's vultures.

The explorer attempted to explain that the Imperial German Eagle was the emblem of His Imperial Majesty, the Kaiser, and that it was not a vulture. Unfortunately, during his explanation, Doctor Mattengloss included references to the might and power of the German Emperor, and when, in answer to a question about the size of the Kaiser's 'tribe', he told his Nysenezi guide that the Kaiser had as many subjects as there were stars in the sky, this reinforced the guide's belief that the Kaiser and Myrhd'k were one and the same.

News that Mattengloss was the servant of the physical manifestation of Myrhd'k spread throughout the region, and everywhere that Doctor Mattengloss went he was greeted with all the honours due to a representative of the Sky God. Mattengloss's arrival at Kisame, which is situated on the lake he later renamed Lake Bismarck, coincided with the end of a particularly bad spell of dark and stormy weather on the lake. This was seen as portentous, and when he gave the local Nysenezi chief of a small picture of the Kaiser wearing a helmet adorned with an Imperial German Eagle, it confirmed the belief that the Kaiser was Myrhd'k in the minds of the Nysenezi.

Upon Mattengloss's return to the coast on his journey home to Germany, the picture of the Kaiser became a revered object amongst the Nysenezi. A special shrine, guarded by the oldest sons of Nysenezi chieftains and overseen by the most important priests, was made for the picture in a cave on the slopes of Mount Bloemintall. In addition, the word 'kyseer' (meaning 'He upon whom the vulture perches to give shade') became part of the Nysenezi language.

The shrine soon became a place of pilgrimage for the Nysenezi, and as more and more tribesmen and their families visited the site to see the image of their Sky God, the power of the priests and the shrine guards increased. They took to wearing crudely fashioned copies of the Kaiser's helmet, and performing ever more elaborate rituals to which only the most pure – those chosen by the priests and shrine guards to become members of the Vulture Cult – were allowed. Thus it was that the Vulture Cult grew to become the most important influence in Nysenezi culture, and its priests the most important men amongst the Nysenezi.

Chapter 3 – The arrival of the first German colonists in Nyseneziland

When the first German colonists arrived at the Hansa Ost Afrika landing stage at the port that was later named Port Wilhelm, they found the local natives – the Nysenezi – to be welcoming, co-operative, and hard working. Within a few short years the whole of Nyseneziland became covered with German-owned farms on which the Nysenezi did almost all of the work. At first the Nysenezi did not seem to mind losing their best grazing and arable land to the colonists, but gradually they began to resent the over-bearing and often cruel attitude of the people they thought were the servant of the physical manifestation of Myrhd'k.

Nysenezi chieftains began to make special visits to the shrine on Mount Bloemintall to ask for advice from the priests. The priests, shrine guards, and other followers of the Vulture Cult held special rituals where they hoped that Myrhd'k would appear to them in a vision. When the hoped for manifestation did not occur, the chieftains were told to return to their villages and to tell their people that Myrhd'k would make his intentions known in due course.

Chapter 4 – Mpoko Finka has a vision
The chieftain of a very small Nysenezi village, that was situated on the slopes of the Northern Usabrela Mountains to the North East of Moroleso, had a sickly young son. The son was named Mpoko Finka (which means 'he who brings joy in old age' in the language of the Nysenezi), and he had been expected to die soon after his birth. He did not, but as he grew older he developed into a solitary child who did not mix easily with his peers. His father despaired of him, and when Mpoko reached the age of sixteen, he sent him to the shrine on Mount Bloemintall in the hope that the boy would become a priest or shrine guard.

On his arrival the priests and shrine guards turned him away, not wishing to allow such a person access to the shrine. Mpoko refused to leave, and eventually he was allowed to enter the cave where the Kaiser's picture was kept. Upon entering the cave Mpoko, doubtless overcome by hunger and fatigue, collapsed onto the floor. The priests and shrine guards hurried forward to remove his lifeless body, which they carried outside. As they laid Mpoko down, a vulture appeared and landed by his head. The stunned priests and shrine guards watched in amazement and wonder as the vulture opened its wings and shaded Mpoko's head. It stayed there until he regained consciousness, when it slowly flapped its wings and flew away.

This event stunned the priests and shrine guards, and when Mpoko began to tell them of the dream he had had whilst unconscious, they fell to the ground and abased themselves. Mpoko told them that in his dream a vulture had appeared to him with a message from Myrhd'k. The bird had told him that the Germans were not true believers in Myrhd'k, and that the Nysenezi must make them leave the sacred land of the Nysenezi if Myrhd'k was to remain powerful enough to continue to chase Nosee away every day.

Chapter 5 – Mpoko Finka becomes the leader of the Vulture Cult
At first the priests did not know what to do. Mpoko was not a member of the Vulture Cult, but it was obvious that he had been chosen by Myrhd'k to be his messenger to the Cult and the spiritual guide of the Nysenezi. The priests insisted that Mpoko remain with them and undergo a series of ceremonial cleansings and purifications, after which he would be admitted to the priesthood. This appealed to the taciturn young man, who readily underwent the arduous rituals devised by the priests. He seemed to enjoy being sent to meditate for several days at a time – without food or shelter – on the upper, snow covered slopes of Mount Bloemintall. Whereas others who had been sent on similar tests of their suitability for the priesthood had given up or even died, Mpoko seemed to return each time with greater inner strength.

For over four years Mpoko pursued his aim to become a priest. News of his vision had been kept within the membership of the Vulture Cult, but Mpoko's fame as a mystic who had rejected all the pleasures of an earthly life spread throughout the lands of the Nysenezi. As the time at which Mpoko would become a man – and thus would be able to join the priesthood – approached, the priests became fearful less the story of Mpoko's vision would become known to all, and the power that the leaders of the Vulture Cult enjoyed would be ended. They therefore decided to send him on one last journey of purification in the hope that he would either die or give up.

The final test of his spiritual purity that Mpoko had to undertake involved spending forty days and nights at the peak of Mount Bloemintall without food or shelter. When he was told what he would have to do, Mpoko is reputed to have said that he had no fear of death because he knew that Myrhd'k would provide all that he needed in order to survive. With that he set off alone to the top of the mountain.

When the time for the ceremony at which Mpoko would reach manhood and become a priest approached, many Nysenezi chieftains – including Mpoko's own father – came to the shrine to observe the proceedings. They wished to see at first hand the famous mystic, and to hear if he could provide the guidance that they so sorely sought. The assembled priests, shrine guards, and chieftains waited all day for Mpoko, but he did not appear, and as night-time approached they began to prepare to disperse. As the sun began to sink behind the summit of Mount Bloemintall, a large vulture – the largest that any of those gathered for the ceremony had ever seen – flew down and landed in their midst. Seconds later Mpoko appeared out of the gathering gloom.

Mpoko walked into the centre of the assembled priests, shrine guards, and chieftains, and told them to follow him into the sacred cave. Once they were all inside he walked up to the picture of the Kaiser, picked it up, turned to face them all, and threw it to the floor! Mpoko then told them that during his journey of purification on the mountain, he had been visited every day by a vulture that had brought him food from Myrhd'k. He had also had numerous visions in which a vulture had brought him further messages from Myrhd'k.

This revelation spurred the previously speechless and stunned chieftains to demand from the priests information about the earlier messages, but before the latter had a chance to answer Mpoko raised his arms above his head to indicate that he demanded that all present be silent. He then informed them that Myrhd'k had told him the Germans were not true believers in Myrhd'k, that the Kaiser was not the physical manifestation of Myrhd'k, and that the Nysenezi must force them leave Nyseneziland if Myrhd'k was to continue to chase Nosee away every day.

Mpoko's father then spoke. "My son has told us what to do. The priests have lied to us, and used their power to blind us from our true course. He must now become our guide." The other chieftains murmured agreement, and the priests, realising that in order to retain any power whatsoever they must wholeheartedly support Mpoko, proclaimed him leader of the Vulture Cult. Mpoko then told them all to leave him alone in the cave until Myrhd'k had chased Nosee away ten times, at which time he would speak to them again. The chieftains, priests, and shrine guards did as they were bidden, and the new leader of the Vulture Cult returned to the quiet, contemplative solitude he seemed to find so spiritually invigorating.

Chapter 6 – The Argi-Bargi Ritual
Ten days passed, and the chieftains, priests, and shrine guards returned to hear what Mpoko had to say to them. He met them at the opening of the sacred cave, and motioned them to sit. They did as they were bid, and once they were all seated Mpoko began to speak. He repeated his previous message from Myrhd'k, and told them that before the Germans could be forced to leave, all the Nysenezi would have to undertake a spiritual cleansing – the Argi-Bargi Ritual ('Argi-Bargi' meaning 'I am pure; I was impure' in the language of the Nysenezi). He then described the ritual in some detail, and once he had finished, Mpoko bade the chieftains to depart to their villages to prepare their people for the ceremony of cleansing that would be conducted, in due course, by the priests of the Vulture Cult.

When the chieftains had gone, Mpoko called upon the priests to join him in a ceremony of spiritual purification at the peak of Mount Bloemintall. Those priests that survived the three day long rituals then dispersed – each guarded by at least one shrine guard – to begin the process of visiting each Nysenezi village to cleanse the people.

The process of cleansing the Nysenezi took several months, and when it had been completed the chieftains, priests, and shrine guards returned to the sacred cave for guidance. Mpoko told them that the time had now come to drive the Germans from Nyseneziland, and that this would begin at a German-owned farm near his own home village.

Chapter 7 – The Argi-Bargi Rebellion begins
The first Herr Joachim Fassbender – the manager of the German-owned farm nearest to Mpoko Finka's home village – knew that something was amiss was when his houseboy did not wake him with his breakfast. Herr Fassbender got out of bed, and shouted for Dwangi – his houseboy – to bring his breakfast at once. When no one came, Herr Fassbender dressed and went to the kitchen, determined to find Dwangi and thrash him for his laziness, but he could find nobody. He searched the farmhouse, but Dwangi was gone, and so were the cook, the maids, and even the gardener.

Herr Fassbender then decided to go to the local village to search for his missing servants. Sensing that something might be wrong, he armed himself with his favourite whip – the missing servants would, after all, have to be chastised before being allowed back into the farmhouse to work – and a double-barrelled shotgun. As he made his way to the stables, Herr Fassbender became aware of a large group of natives standing silent and motionless in a field some 100 metres away. He stopped to try to see why they were there, and saw amongst the crowd Dwangi and the rest of his servants.

Enraged by this impudent insolence, Herr Fassbender strode purposefully towards the group, determined to deal with Dwangi and the others at once. As he reached the group an old man – whom Herr Fassbender recognised as being the local chieftain – walked forward and held up his right hand in a gesture that bade the German to stop. Surprised by the firmness shown by someone that he had always found to be so subservient, Herr Fassbender did as he was bid. The old man then spoke to him. "Master, we have come to ask you to leave our land. Myrhd'k has told us that it is ours and ours alone, and that unless you and your people leave he will not chase Nosee from the sky each morning."

Herr Fassbender only understood part of what was said, but he knew enough of the Nysenezi language to realise that he faced a serious situation. He decided to take firm action, and to nip this potential revolt in the bud. Herr Fassbender dropped his whip, raised his shotgun, pointed it at the old man, and said, "I have heard what you have to say. Return to work now and I will not punish you." The old man shook his head in disbelief, and turned to rejoin the rest of the natives. At this sign of disobedience Herr Fassbender raised his shotgun to his shoulder and fired. The full force of the blast hit the old man in the back, killing him instantly.

For a few seconds nothing happened. Then the group of natives began to chant. "Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi!" This seemed to spur them into action, and they surged forward. Herr Fassbender aimed his shotgun at the oncoming mob, and fired – killing his gardener and one of his maids – before they were upon him. He fell to the ground under repeated blows from fists, stones, and simple farm implements, and was beaten to death in less than a minute. The natives then took all the weapons they could find in the farmhouse before setting it and its outbuildings on fire. Their final act was to pick up the bodies of their dead and made their way to the sacred cave on Mount Bloemintall.

Chapter 8 – The German reaction to the death of Herr Fassbender
The smoke from Herr Fassbender's burning farmhouse soon attracted the attention of the manager of the neighbouring farm, Herr Günther Gottlieb. Fearing that his neighbour might be in trouble, Herr Gottlieb saddled his horse and rode in the direction of the fire. On his arrival at the deserted farm he found the farmhouse and nearly all of the outbuildings almost burnt to the ground, and, upon searching the surrounding area, he discovered the mutilated body of a European. He immediately recognised the body to be that of Herr Fassbender from the clothes that it was wearing.

Herr Gottlieb realised that Herr Fassbender's murder – for it could be nothing else – in conjunction with the burning of the farmhouse and outbuildings, the absence of any native workers on the farm, and the evidence that others had been injured or killed, indicated that a serious native uprising had begun. Fearing for his own life and property, Herr Gottlieb remounted his horse, and rode as fast as he could to his own farmstead. He stayed there long enough to assure himself that his own native workers and servants were working normally, before arming himself with a hunting rifle and revolver, saddling a fresh horse, and riding to the Schutztruppe post at Moroleso to inform the authorities.

On hearing Herr Gottlieb's story, the commander of the Schutztruppe post at Moroleso – Leutnant Oscar Wirth – immediately telegraphed the information to the headquarters of the Imperial German garrison at Port Wilhelm and asked for instructions. As General von Tippel, the commander of the Imperial German garrison in Mankanika, was away on a hunting trip in Mottenbeleland with Major Christoph (Willi) Wilhelm, the second-in-command, Major Ritter von Stümper, decided to immediately despatch troops to Moroleso. Major von Stümper summoned the commander of 1. Abteilung, Kaiserlich Schutztruppe – Major Theodor von Gow – and told him to prepare to move to Moroleso with 1. and 2. Schutzen-Kompanien, half of 13. Maschinen-Gewehr-Kompanie, and half of 14. Infanterie-Geschutz-Kompanie. Major von Stümper then telegraphed Leutnant Wirth, whose post was garrisoned by 5. Schutzen-Kompanie, 2. Abteilung, Kaiserlich Schutztruppe – recruited from the Mottenbele tribe – and told the Leutnant to defend the post at Moroleso until he and Major von Gow arrived with reinforcements.

Major Ritter von Stümper then contacted the other Schutztruppe posts in Nyseneziland by telegraph to warn them to be on their guard against attacks by Nysenezi tribesmen. He also ordered them to prepare to send troops to support operations against the Nysenezi or to disarm troops of 3. Abteilung, Kaiserlich Schutztruppe, which recruited its rank and file from Nyseneziland. The Major then sent coded telegrams to the commanders of posts garrisoned by 3. Abteilung, Kaiserlich Schutztruppe, informing them of events in Nyseneziland, and warning them to be on their guard against any potential rebellion amongst their troops. He also informed them that Mottenbele troops drawn from 2. Abteilung, Kaiserlich Schutztruppe were available to help deal with any potential rebels, and to assist in disarming Nysenezi troops if necessary.

Before leaving Port Wilhelm to lead the punitive expedition he intended to mount against those Nysenezi responsible for Herr Fassbender's death, Major von Stümper wrote a detailed report that outlined the information he had received, the forces he had despatched to deal with the insurrection, and his plan of campaign. He then sent one copy of his report to the Governor – Doctor Hans Kniess – and a further copy – by hand of an officer courier – to General von Tippel in Mottenbeleland.

Chapter 9 – Mpoko Finka has another vision
Whilst the troops of the Imperial German garrison prepared to deal with the incipient rebellion, Mpoko Finka was coming to terms with the death of his father. The body of the old man, along with those of Fassbender's gardener and maid, had been brought to the sacred cave on Mount Bloemintall. On seeing his father's body, Mpoko became very silent and very still ... and then he collapsed onto the floor. The onlookers gasped in horror, but within seconds Mpoko began to writhe around on the ground chanting "Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi!" The crowd began to join in the chant, and as it was repeated over and over again, Mpoko regained consciousness. He stood up and with uplifted arms he commanded them to be silent.

He then spoke. "People of Myrhd'k. You have seen that the Germans are impure and unclean. They kill old men who have done nothing but tell them the will of Myrhd'k. They kill those that have served them faithfully when they have no further use for them. The Germans will not leave because they do not fear the power of Myrhd'k, and have no respect for his wishes. Myrhd'k has told me that this must not go unpunished. He wishes me to send messengers to all the People of Myrhd'k, telling them to come here to purify themselves before we attack and destroy the Germans. This is the will of Myrhd'k!"

Mpoko then told all but the priests and shrine guards to leave. When they were alone, Mpoko assigned priests to go at once to each Nysenezi village so that Myrhd'k's message could be spread as quickly as possible. In order to ensure their safety and to reinforce the veracity of the message, a shrine guard escorted each priest.

Chapter 10 – The German punitive expeditionary force arrives at Moroleso
The journey from Port Wilhelm to Moroleso took nearly two days, even though the soldiers of the Kaiserlich Schutztruppe forced march all the way. On arriving at Moroleso late in the afternoon of the second day, they found the village deserted. Suspecting a trap, the troops carefully made their way through the village to the Schutztruppe post, where they found Leutnant Wirth and his 5. Schutzen-Kompanie waiting for them.

In reply to Major von Stümper's request for a report, Leutnant Wirth told him that until midday on the previous day the village had seemed normal. A crowd had then begun to gather in the market place, and, fearing an attack, the Leutnant had placed his troops in their defensive positions. The crowd had stayed in the market place for some time, and after about an hour it had begun to move off, chanting "Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi!" – the meaning of which was unknown to the Leutnant – as it left. The Leutnant then reported that the village had gone very quiet, and patrols he had sent into the village this morning had returned with the information that everyone but the most elderly had gone.

Leutnant Wirth also reported that General von Tippel had returned to Port Wilhelm, and had sent a telegram confirming Major von Stümper's provisional orders and troop dispositions. Reports had also been received by telegraph from Schutztruppe posts throughout Mankanika. Those in Nyseneziland reported that the local villages were deserted, and that the workers and servants on local farms had disappeared. Posts garrisoned by 3. Abteilung, Kaiserlich Schutztruppe reported no problems with their Nysenezi troops. It had, however, been decided by General von Tippel that they should be confined to barracks until the rebellion was dealt with.

Major von Stümper found the reports about the disappearance of the Nysenezi very puzzling, and decided that he needed more information before he could take further action. After ordering Major von Gow to arrange a meal and rest for the troops they had brought with them from Port Wilhelm, Major von Stümper told Leutnant Wirth to take a patrol into the village and bring back as many natives as he could find. The Leutnant did as he was ordered, and within the hour he had returned with five elderly Nysenezi men and eight women.

After eating his evening meal, Major von Stümper began interrogating the natives. With the help of a Mottenbele soldier of the 5. Schutzen-Kompanie who spoke the language of the Nysenezi, and two burly German Sergeants of the 1. Schutzen-Kompanie, he soon discovered why the Nysenezi had left and where they had gone. The Major then called his officers together, and having apprised them of the information he had obtained, he gave out his orders. The troops who had force marched from Port Wilhelm were to rest for a day before the operation to punish the Nysenezi began. Leutnant Wirth was ordered to remain at Moroleso with half of 5. Schutzen-Kompanie to act as force rearguard and to protect the punitive expedition's lines-of-communication. The other half of 5. Schutzen-Kompanie was to join the expeditionary force – 1. and 2. Schutzen-Kompanien, half of 13. Maschinen-Gewehr-Kompanie, and half of 14. Infanterie-Geschutz-Kompanie – to act as scouts and flank guards.

Chapter 11 – The Nysenezi gather at Mount Bloemintall for purification
The messengers sent by Mpoko Finka to all the villages in Nyseneziland completed their task within two days, and over the next three days thousands of Nysenezi gathered on the slopes of Mount Bloemintall to be purified. Many of the very young, the very old, or the infirm died during those three days without proper food, water, or shelter on the mountain, and Myrhd'k's spirit-gatherers – the vultures – were seen in large numbers. This was seen a propitious, and Mpoko made much of this in his speeches to the assembled throng.

On the morning of the fourth day, having pronounced them pure, Mpoko informed the gathering that the time to destroy the Germans had come. He then told them that this would begin with the destruction of the farms nearest his own home village, and that he would personally lead the crusade against the unbelievers. With Mpoko leading, the Nysenezi began to leave the slopes of Mount Bloemintall, chanting "Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi!" as they went.

Chapter 12 – The Battle of Teller's Farm
After resting at Moroleso for a day, Major von Stümper led the Imperial German punitive expeditionary force towards Mount Bloemintall. He had surmised that the Nysenezi would take several days to assemble on the mountain, and he was sure that their opening attacks would occur in the area where the rebellion had first started. For several days the force slowly but surely made its way towards the farm where Herr Fassbender had been murdered. On the fifth morning one of the Mottenbele scouts reported seeing a large number of Nysenezi near the farm managed by Herr Gottlieb – Teller's Farm. He told Major von Stümper that the group numbered several thousand, were chanting "Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi!" and were led by a very thin, wild looking young man.

Major von Stümper immediately recalled all his scouts and flank guards, and ordered them to form a wide skirmish line in front of the expeditionary force. He then ordered Major von Gow to form the main body of the force into line, with 1. Schutzen-Kompanie on the right, the machine guns of 13. Maschinen-Gewehr-Kompanie in the centre, 2. Schutzen-Kompanie on the left, and the guns of 14. Infanterie-Geschutz-Kompanie behind the machine guns. When the force was so formed, it moved out in the direction of Teller's Farm.

The noise of chanting soon reached the advancing troops, as did the smell of smoke from the deserted farm buildings that had been set aflame – Herr Gottlieb having remained at the Schutztruppe post in Moroleso after he had informed the authorities of Herr Fassbender's death. Less than five minutes later the skirmishers made contact with the rebels, and both side began firing at each other. The Nysenezi were mainly armed with spears, but several had acquired looted firearms from deserted German-owned farms they had already attacked and burned. They were, however, unable to counter the disciplined fire of the troops of 5. Schutzen-Kompanie, and as casualties mounted, many Nysenezi began to run away.

Seeing large numbers of his followers fleeing or dying, Mpoko attempted to rally them for an attack on the skirmishers. He succeeded, and the huge crowd of Nysenezi began to advance on the soldiers of 5. Schutzen-Kompanie, chanting "Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi! Argi-Bargi!" Unknown to Mpoko, Major von Stümper had deployed his troops to counter such a move, and ordered the skirmishers to withdraw through his line and form up as a reserve behind the guns of 14. Infanterie-Geschutz-Kompanie. When the front edge of the crowd was 200 metres from his troops, Major von Stümper gave the order to open fire.

The effect of volley fire from the rifles of 1. and 2. Schutzen-Kompanien, coupled with the sustained machine gun fire of 13. Maschinen-Gewehr-Kompanie and high explosive shells fired by 14. Infanterie-Geschutz-Kompanie, was devastating. Within minutes hundreds of Nysenezi were dead, dying, or wounded. Amongst the first to be killed was Herr Fassbender's houseboy Dwangi, but miraculously Mpoko remained unharmed, despite being in the forefront of the Nysenezi attack. Mpoko was overcome by the death and destruction that surrounded him, and was incapable of doing anything to stop it. He stood as still as a rock amidst the carnage, whilst those of his followers who were not dead, dying or seriously wounded fled.

When Major von Stümper saw the Nysenezi begin to run away, he ordered the skirmishers of 5. Schutzen-Kompanie to pursue the fleeing natives, which they did with alacrity. He then ordered Major von Gow to send a section of 1. Schutzen-Kompanie – commanded by the Company's senior N.C.O. – to arrest the leader of the rebellion, whilst the rest of 1. and 2. Schutzen-Kompanien 'dealt' with any wounded Nysenezi they found on the battlefield.

Chapter 13 – The trial of Mpoko Finka
The soldiers of 1. Schutzen-Kompanie easily overpowered Mpoko, and he did not resist as he hands and feet were manacled. He was then dragged before Major von Stümper, who interrogated him for some time. The Major was unable to obtain any useful information from his captive, and he ordered that the native leader be kept under close confinement until it was possible to take him back to Port Wilhelm for trial.

After ensuring that the Nysenezi rebels had dispersed, the Imperial German punitive expeditionary force began its return to Moroleso on the morning of the next day. The journey was accomplished in five days, and on reaching the Schutztruppe post Major von Stümper handed command of the force over to Major von Gow. Major von Stümper and a section of 1.Schutzen-Kompanie then escorted Mpoko to Port Wilhelm.

On arriving at the headquarters of the Schutztruppe at Port Wilhelm, Major von Stümper arranged for his captive to be incarcerated in the Colony's main jail whilst he reported to General von Tippel. The General was very pleased to see his subordinate, and praised him for the decisive manner in which he had dealt with the rebellion so far. He also told the Major that his prisoner would be tried by court-martial next day for treason and rebellion, and that von Stümper would, with the General and Major Wilhelm, preside at the trial.

The trial lasted less than an hour. Mpoko refused – or was unable – to answer any of the questions put to him, nor did he offer a credible defence. All he would say was that Myrhd'k had told him the Germans were not true believers in Myrhd'k, that the Kaiser was not the physical manifestation of Myrhd'k, and that the Nysenezi must force them leave Nyseneziland.

The result of the trial was inevitable, and before lunch sentence of death was pronounced. Mpoko made no comment when he heard what was to happen to him, and he remained silent as he was taken from the courtroom to the gallows that had been set up in the town's main square. He may have tried to shout "Argi-Bargi!" as the noose was placed around his neck, but the hangman was so swift that Mpoko's voice was choked off as the trap opened and his body fell through. The corpse was left to hang for an hour before being cut down and taken away. In order to publicly demonstrate that the power of the Vulture Cult was destroyed, the body was then cremated on a funeral pyre built next to the gallows.

Chapter 14 – Revenge and retribution
Whilst Mpoko was being taken to Port Wilhelm for his trial, Major von Gow had already begun the second stage of the military operation to suppress the Argi-Bargi Rebellion. Patrols were sent from the Schutztruppe posts at Moroleso, Kisame, and Mikinmini to each German-owned farm in Nyseneziland to check on the safety of the farm owners and managers. All villages near farms where there were reports or rumours of discontent or unrest amongst the workers were visited, and such visits always result in the confiscation of local stores of grain and herds of cattle.

After Mpoko Finka's execution, General von Tippel ordered Major von Stümper to return to the area of Nyseneziland where Mpoko had been born to exact retribution from the family of the leader of the rebellion, his village, and the priests and shrine guards of the Vulture Cult.

Major von Stümper took pleasure in obeying these orders. Mpoko's home village was surrounded before dawn, and as the sun rose Major von Stümper ordered his soldiers to move in and arrest all the inhabitants. Anyone who was identified as being a blood relative of Mpoko's was taken into the open space in the middle of the village, tied to a newly erected post, and whipped. Once this punishment had taken place, every inhabitant of the village – regardless of age, gender, or infirmity – was manacled together prior to being taken to serve long terms of imprisonment at the Colony's new prison work camp near Kanika. The village was then looted and set on fire.

Having exacted revenge and retribution on Mpoko's own family and village, Major von Stümper turned his attention to destroying what remained of the power of the Vulture Cult. The sacred cave of the Vulture Cult on the slopes of Mount Bloemintall was dynamited to remove any evidence of its existence. The Major and his troops then visited every village in Nyseneziland, and anyone identified or suspected as being a Vulture Cult priest or shrine guard was arrested and, after a drumhead court-martial, shot for treason and rebellion. Major von Stümper's final task was to 'escort' Kominda, the supreme chief of the Nysenezi, to Port Wilhelm. Once there Kominda was forced to abase himself in front of the Imperial German Governor, Doctor Hans Kniess, before signing a treaty that accepted, on behalf of the Nysenezi, full responsibility for the uprising and agreeing to pay a punitive tax to defray for the cost of putting down the rebellion.

Chapter 15 – The aftermath
The confiscation of almost all the grain and cattle held in Nyseneziland and the imposition of the punitive tax had severe consequences. Thousands of Nysenezi died of starvation in the twelve months after the suppression of the Argi-Bargi Rebellion, and only those tribes people who agreed to work for nothing but food and shelter on German-owned farms had any assurance of survival. The power of the Vulture Cult was destroyed, and German Lutheran missionaries were encouraged by the Imperial German Governor to set up missions in Nyseneziland to convert the tribes’ people to Christianity.

Major Ritter von Stümper was rewarded for his prompt actions during the outbreak of the rebellion, and the subsequent operations to suppress the uprising, with promotion to Oberst. This did much to restore his reputation, which had been tarnished by his involvement in the defeat of the Imperial German garrison at Arora Junction and the subsequent withdrawal from Deutsches Sudan.

2 comments:

  1. Absolutely brilliant background work! It’s the best monograph I have read since Sherlock Holmes’ Chaldean Roots in the Ancient Cornish Language.

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  2. CoastConFan,

    Praise indeed! I hope to follow this monograph with one about the medieval Manorial Rolls of Barcestershire.

    All the best,

    Bob

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