A celebration has been launched to commemorate the First World War that broke out in Taita Taveta County 100 Years ago.The event which was launched in Stanley Hotel in Nairobi,would be known as the East African Campaign of the First World War,an event to be observed annually in Tsavo,the campaign also provided a great opportunity to launch the Heritage Tour at the Sarova Stanley Hotel that was themed “Retracing the footprints of Kenya’s heritage and culture over the last 100 years”.
Speaking during the launch,Tsavo Heritage Foundation Deputy President Wanjala Sio called for proper documentation of the story behind the Taita battlefields during the war.
“Many Kenyans died as a result of the fighting while others succumbed to dehydration following the harsh conditions of Taita Taveta. Others were overworked, walked long distances yet were denied food, and were attacked by mosquitoes.” Said Sio.
Gracing the event, the Australian Deputy High Commissioner Jonathan Ball supported the sentiments by Wanjala Sio that Kenya had a rich WW1 history that needed to be told for future prosperity.
While commending the efforts of foreign and local fighters, Mr Ball singled out the efforts of Lieutenant William Thomas Dartnell for his bravery in various wars, including the Second Boer War, Bambatha Rebellion, East African Campaign and Battle of Bukoba.
Lt Dartnell was born in Australia in 1885 and died on September 3, 1915, aged 30. He was buried at the War Grave Cemetery in Voi.
The Heritage Foundation Deputy President stressed that there was need to research and identify historical sites, events and participants to help reconstruct and document this period of the country’s history.
“The trenches of Salaita Hill, she observed, were neglected and almost disappearing, yet they had been the scenes of one of the fiercest battles in WW1.
Similarly, the “Kambi ya Bibi” site has remained incognito, yet, according to local history, this was the place where a German woman had hidden inside a baobab tree and caused havoc among British soldiers”Says Wanjala
The host of the Event,Sarova Hotels Managing Director Jimi Kariuki who doubles as the Kenya Tourism Board Chairman,said the Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge stood next to a battleground. “Sarova Hotels in Kenya have taken the lead in East Africa by identifying all these leads. We have come up with an exciting historical journey told in pictures, and an artifacts museum at Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge.A leading East Africa tour firm Bonfire Adventures led by the Chief Executive Officer and CO-Founder Mr.Simon Kabu who was among the tourism industry dignitaries who graced the launch,welcomed the centenary celebration stating that Bonfire Adventures will have a friendly package for tourists who will be coming to the celebrations in Taita Taveta County.