Armistice Day: Forgotten African Heroes

November 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

As Europe marked Armistice day on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but take note of Africa’s contribution to the two World Wars. Africa and Africans were somehow not a part of these wars consequences and legacies yet many in the Kings African Rifles were maimed or killed in Burma, Abbysinia, Tanganyika to mention just a few. They were fighting an absurd war given that they were colonised fighting to keep their masters from being colonised. There were taxes and other privations that Africans paid as their colonial masters fought brutal wars.

I am embarrassed at how poor my history education was. For example, I didn’t know that almost every able bodied Kamba male was conscripted to fight in WW1 or that many campaigns were won through the tenacity and courage of African soldiers.


Africans recruited to the Kings African Rifles numbered over 120,000. Kenyan and Tanzanian beef fed millions of allied soldiers stationed in the middle east. My late Grandfather was a Kings African Rifles veteran and was involved in the Burma Campaign. I wonder what were his experiences in Burma. I regret I was too young to talk to him about those experiences.

The courage of the men should be acknowledged and applauded.


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