In this photo taken on Saturday, Nov, 10, 2018, a visitor looks at charcoal drawings by artist William Kentridge paying homage to Africans’ service in World War 1, at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Amid the fanfare marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, little has been said about some crucial participants in the conflict: Africans. More than 1 million African soldiers, laborers and porters were vital actors in the war in Europe and especially in battles on the African continent, yet little commemorates their role. (AP Photo/Andrew Meldrum). Featured Image
More than 1 million African soldiers, laborers and porters were vital actors in the war in Europe and especially in battles on the African continent, yet little commemorates their role.
This is slowly changing as historians and artists highlight contributions made by Africans in the war from 1914 to 1918.
“African troops played a vital role fighting for the French on the Western Front in Europe because French troops suffered very heavy casualties early in the war,” said Alan Wakefield, head of First World War and Early 20th Century Conflicts at the Imperial War Museums in London.
“Britain relied heavily on Africans for labor on the Western Front and during the Egypt and Palestine campaign. Their role was to carry supplies and ammunition, construct camps and dig trenches. The campaigns in Africa could not have been fought without the contributions of Africans on both sides. This is not well known, but that story is starting to be told.”