First world war in East Africa
When war broke out in Europe in 1914, English and French troops prepared to seize the four German colonies in Africa, namely German East Africa, German South-West Africa, Togoland and Cameroon. Fighting became fierce in German East Africa where German General Lettow-Vorbeck adopted a guerilla strategy, bringing in more and more areas into the war.
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Thus, the Campaign in East Africa during the First World War was totally different as compared to those on the Western Front. This war was fought over vast distances without roads, over unmapped and unexplored areas, in deadly swamps and on remote mountains, as well as in a tropical climate where malaria was rife. The colonisers took the decision to fight in East Africa but the main fight was carried out by the colonized.
About 250,000 soldiers involved in this campaign were either Africans – from East Africa, but also Nigeria and the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) – or Indians, according to accounts by the British Council.
It added that when the war started, most of the combatants were professional soldiers who served in the respective colonial armies but soon all the colonial administrations began recruiting Africans who were mostly forced or persuaded into military service. These men were missed in the fields back home, and this affected harvests that were also destroyed by troops. By the end of the war in 1918, a million people had died in East Africa.