AFRICA AND THE WORLD WAR
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Background : causes of the war.
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A European affair. Allied powers –Britain France, Russia,
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Belgium, Serbia, Italy and USA vs. the Central Powers-Germany, Austria- Hungary and
Turkey
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Competition bet Britain and Germany for naval supremacy leading
to arms race.
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Tension in Europe-Pan –Slavism.
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Traditional hatred bet Germany and France.
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Austria- Hungary and Russian Tension
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Formation of Alliances after the Franco- Prussian war engineered
1906- Triple Entente of France ,Britain and Russia as a counter coalition against Triple Alliance
in case of any thing.
What sparked of the War?
• Assassination of the Austrian Crown Price
Archduke Franz Ferdinard and his wife on June
28TH 1914 by a Bosnia- Serb student Gavrilo
Pricip.
• From start of war in August 1914 to April 1917
America pursued isolationist policy why?
• A European affair, USA not threatened by war
had nothing at stake to fight for, President
Woodrow Wilsons philosophy of humanism –
hated war.
America changes Position.
• Outbreak of Russian Revolution in March 1917
which removed the despotic Tsar of Russia,
• Zimmerman Telegram from Germany that
suggested an Alliance bet Germany and Mexico
so that if USA Entered the war, Germany would
help Mexico to recover the Mexican lost
territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
• German submarine menace, - using their
modern U boats to sink other boats that included
merchant ships bitterly annoyed USA.
• Finally on 2nd April President Woodrow Wilson
declared war on Germany.
African involvement
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African colonies were forced to support the mother countries.
The support was given in various forms
Food crops
Carrier corps.
Pioneer corps e.g. Kings African Rifles.
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Only in South Africa, Africans were not allowed guns.
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Many Africans were recruited to join the war against their
will, e.g. British recruited 50,000 people from Sierra
• Leone, Nigeria and Ghana.
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In West Africa, French recruited 150,000 to fight as troops –Blaise Diagne
played a crucial role in recruiting people for example when requested to
recruit 40,000 ,he provided 60,000 instead.
African Participation.
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There were several war theaters in Africa, South West Africa, North Africa and East Africa.
Allied powers were bent on defeating Germans in Africa.
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Britain joins French allies to fight Germans in Africa.
North Africa- Egypt, Turks joined war in support of Germany, were
rooted by the British –to protect the Nile and the Suez Canal.
South-West Africa ( Namibia) Germans were defeated in late 1915.
Togoland was easily defeated by the allies.
kamerun The struggle took a long period e.g. 15 months before the
defeat of the Germans
German East Africa (Tanganyika)- the toughest war theater in Africa. South African Soldiers and
West African troops came to help the British. British forces came from Sudan and Belgians from West –Congo.
The Campaign lasted the war duration
British bombarded Dar es Salam and Tanga but were defeated at the battle of Tanga.
Defeated in Nyanza Province of Kenya and British had to retreat.
The East African Campaign
• Lasted longest the last shot of World war 1 were fired
in this theater.
• German General Lettow Von Verbeck was
undefeated.
• Knew the numerical strength of British forces. Was
outnumbered10:1
• So used guerrilla tactics aimed at tying the forces in
• Africa so that they cannot be used in Europe.
• Used Scorched earth Policy and retreat tactics.
• Was still fighting in Northern Rhodesia when truce was
signed in Europe.
The war and Partition
• The World war 1 marked the end of
partition of Africa,
• German territories were dismembered
and shared by the victors,
• Togoland & Cameroon=French and
Britain.
• Rwanda & Burundi=Belgium.
• Tanganyika= Britain as mandate territory.
• S.W. Africa =South Africa.
African Response.
• Rejected the war, had northing to do with them.
• Rejected the dying of Africans in the war e.g. John ChilembeMalawi refused his people to join the war.
• Surprised that the European colonizers were fighting among
themselves. They never fought during partition.
• Retreated into the forests to avoid being conscripted to the war
• e.g. French territories in West Africa.
• Saw opportunity to assert their self determination that
they had lost and many rebellions occurred led by African churches
e.g. Mumbo cult of Kenya, Harris movement in West Africa
Birth of proto- nationalist movements and rebellions e.g. Afrikaner in S.
Africa, riots in Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, Mozambique, Rwanda and
Madagascar.
Results of the War in Africa
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Destruction of land –scorched earth policy, farms & villages destroyed.
Starvation and Suffering as African food was taken by force by warring
forces or paid at very low prices.
Deaths- People died fighting or due to diseases, e.g. 1 million had joined
war in Kenya and TZ as porters,100,000 a died
Spread of new diseases e.g. Influenza brought back by the troops and
Africans had no immunity.
Many leant how to use guns and drive military vehicles.
European superiority was demystified saw them afraid in trenches &
some died.
Exposure to other troops from other parts e.g. India sensitized them about
equality. Came to know why the Europeans were fighting, many learnt to
read – exposed to world Affairs.
Birth of Nationalism due American President Woodrow Wilson 14 points=
right to self determination.
Economic hardships – export crops stopped e.g. palm oil in Nigeria,
shortage of labor as able bodied people taken to serve the war , hence fall
in agricultural production.