Africa has been erased from European history and world history in general. The involvement of Africans in the World War I is largely forgotten in the mainstream study of history, despite the fact this continent was forcefully contributing an estimated of more than 2 million soldiers, workers, and personnel in both Europe and in Africa.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the catalyst of the “Great War ” in June 1914. This war lasted for four years which saw the death of over 16 million people, this untimately lead to the rise of Adolf Hitler and eventually World War II. Africans were drugged to fight for European war between Europeans themselves over the control of world, Africa being one of the major share.
What is rarely discussed is the deployment of hundreds and thousands of Africans not only on European battlefields, but also at home in a battle for power over the African colonies.
All colonialists promoted the idea of “Civilisation Missions, that of European civilisations in the name of bringing rule of law, order, stability and peace to Africa. ” Yet Africa was turned into theatre of war in August 1914 in addition to other local ethnic cleansing in the region.
Unlike the war in Europe which mainly took place in trenches, the war in Africa took place over long stretches of land. Lack of roads and railways, with most of horses becoming victims of tsetse flies, prompted, French, British, and Germans to use Africans as porters—four to every soldier, that’s carrying machinery parts and other supplies. According to historian Kathleen Boman, an estimated 300,000 porters died along the way.
Despite Africans’ effort, they were colonized, Europeans became more harsh to Africans on their colonies.
More than 1 million African soldiers would go on to fight for their colonial powers in the World War II, who later became to be known as “forgotten veterans.”
The price of Africans contribution in both wars, was colonisation.