THE INFLUENCE OF EX-SOLDIERS (EX-SERVICEMEN) ON THE GROWTH OF AFRICAN NATIONALISM

THE INFLUENCE OF EX-SOLDIERS (EX-SERVICEMEN) ON THE GROWTH OF AFRICAN NATIONALISM

Much more than in the First World War, during the Second World War African soldiers came into direct contact with the whites which influence their nationalism; this is partly because the whole of North African from Morocco to Egypt and Senegal to Somalia was a war theatre.




Largely however it was due to the use of African soldiers in European armies notably in Eastern Asia that led to the transformation of ideas and attitudes on such Africans toward colonial existence.

This can be seen in the following ways:-

  • African soldiers traveled widely gained a lot of experience, ideas and the wider perspective of international issues, they begun to reason out issues critically as they saw them occur, they saw whites working with their own hands, they met a lot of uneducated whites like private soldiers and prostitutes they even saw white beggars and people dwelling in absolute poverty. Such conditions were later to influence ex-servicemen to challenge the assumed superiority of the white man as they had only seen educated, civilized and rich whites before the war.




  • During the war African soldiers met with white men who were opposed to colonialism and who were very different from the whites in colonial Africa. Some whites in European capitals criticized colonialism and this encouraged the ex-service men to come back and wage rebellions against the colonial masters.
  • Some blacks who were recruited as drivers, soldiers to fight on the battle field got exposed to modern weapons; they were therefore to use these techniques to fight the colonialists on return home.
  • African soldiers further realized that they were even better suited fighting in forested conditions than the whites for example those who fought in Burma like Waruhui Itote(General china) saw that the Japanese soldiers were at least equal to the Europeans therefore on return home they challenged the assumed supremacy of the White man.
  • African soldiers saw whites fighting one another in the Maghreb, there was an intense civil war between French men themselves. This white disunity in the eyes of the African soldiers became a powerful factor in helping the black soldiers to look at the colonial master race more critically. Once these weaknesses were realized ex-servicemen waged wars of nationalism against the colonialists.




  • Africans interacted with other people from Asia who were in the same struggle against colonialism, they shared ideas of how to fight the colonial masters for example the Indians impressed upon the Africans Ghandism philosophy or positive neutrality (peaceful means in fighting for their independence). They now used the skills and tactics they had got in the war to challenge the imperialists on return.
  • During World War II, Africans were fighting for freedom in Europe and when they returned home they demanded for the same in Africa. The allied forces were fighting Germany imperialism in Poland which is on the European continent so Africans reasoned that they also needed democracy, freedom and independence which they started fighting for on return.
  • During the war ex-service men had been promised too much however on return home they found themselves in worse conditions than when they were in the war, they were neglected by the colonial masters who had employed them. This provided a basis of their organization since even the local people had suffered the same conditions. They then provided leadership to oppressed masses to champion the struggle for independence. This was the case for Mau Mau in Kenya and Front for National Liberation (FLN) in Algeria.

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