Africans played key, often unheralded, role in World War I


Amid the fanfare marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, little has been said about 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.

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…

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