Beginning on September 20, 1888, insurrections led by Abushiri attacked German-held trading posts and towns throughout the East African territory. The German trading company, unable to control the uprising appealed to the German government for assistance. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck dispatched 34-year-old Hermann Wissmann as the Reich commissioner to the colony. Wissmann along with a combination of German, Sudanese and Shangaen soldiers formed the core of the first Schutztruppe in the region. Wissmann, with naval assistance bombarded coastal towns which allowed for German re-occupation. Also the Navy set up a blockade to deny shipments of arms and supplies to reach the rebels.
Towards the end of 1888, much of Abushiri's alliance with the local tribes had collapsed, and he was forced to hire Arab mercenaries to defend his stronghold at Jahazi, a village near Bagamoyo. German troops led by Wissmann attacked Jahazi on May 8, 1889 resulting in 106 Arab deaths. Abushiri escaped and was able to persuade members of the Yao and Mbunga tribes to continue with the rebellion. He was then able to lead new assaults on Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo. However, superior German firepower was able to repulse these attacks, and the African tribesmen soon deserted Abushiri.
On December 15, 1889 Abushiri was turned over to the Germans by local tribesmen and was shortly afterwards executed in Pangani.