1916-1917 Tabora-Mahenge, The Congo and the war

The documentation centre reading room regularly presents thematic exhibitions made up of pictures, archives, prints or books from the department of Defence.

The exhibition Taboa-Mahenge 1916-1917, The Congo and the war is such a temporary exhibition illustrating the Force publique operations during the First World War in four themes.

Discover the successive phases in this relatively unknown battle in the African campaign during the First World War through some sixty rare archive documents, maps, prints and pictures…

In spite of its neutrality the Congo is attacked on August 12, 1914. The Congolese troops, up till then only used for law enforcing, have to face a foreign enemy for the first time. During the mobilization period circumstances make for a defensive attitude : troop strength is to be doubled and the invasion of German East Africa (the present-day Tanzania and Rwanda) to be prepared. In the meantime, the Force publique nevertheless supports French operations in Cameroon and British operations in Rhodesia (the present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe). With the British it manages to gain control over Lake Tanganyika by immobilizing and sinking the enemy fleet, using both ships and hydroplanes. The Tabora campaign is launched in April 1916 and ends with the capture of the strategic railroad to Dar Es Salaam. Upon request of the British, who do not succeed in neutralizing the German Askaris, the Congolese offensive resumes in August 1917, to end with the taking of Mahenge on October 9, 1917.

(Expo closed in August 2017)