Did You Know: World War I included battles in East Africa by local conscripts and produced widespread famine in the East African colonial system…
More than one million people died in East Africa during World War One. Some soldiers were forced to fight members of their own families on the battlefield because of the way borders were drawn up by European colonial powers, writes Oswald Masebo.
There are still guns and other battlefield artifacts in place since 1916.
John Iliffe’s archival research suggests that Germany had about 15,000 soldiers in south-west Tanzania in 1916 out of whom about 3,000 were Germans and the remaining 12,000 were Tanzanians whose names are not recorded.
The Tanzanian carrier corps also played a central role in sustaining the war. Their story should be recovered.
It is estimated that during the peak of military operations in 1916 the German colonial state conscripted some 45,000 African carrier corps.
After the German colonies collapsed or were seized, many who had benefited from German colonization or had been forced to serve it had to hide their identities or change their stories to avoid being branded collaborators by fellow locals and the new British authorities.