Lesson One – Sub-Topic: East Africa and World War I

1.1       THE FIRST WORLD WAR AND EAST AFRICA (1914 – 1918)

  • This was the first global war that broke out on 28th June, 1914.
  • It was a war btn Serbia, Russia, Britain, France and their allies against Austria, Hungary, Germany and their allies.
  • It was primarily a European war but people in East Africa found themselves joining in on the side of their colonial masters.
  • The bigger part of the war was not fought in East Africa.
  • However many people from  East Africa were shipped to Europe , Burma , Malaysia and  in the Middle east  to fight on the side of either Britain  or Germany.
  • The war spread to East Africa mainly because the mistrust and suspicions between Brita in and Germany in Europe which was extended to East Africa. 


  • Britain and Germany wer e the major war lords in Europe and since they had colonies in East Africa they extended their conflicts and suspicion to East Africa.
  • Britain and Germany had colonies which were adjacent to each other and therefore this led to the involvement of East Africa in World War 1.
  • Germany provoked Britain into the war because she wanted Britain to divert her attention and resources from the war in Europe.
  • Britain had strategic reasons for example she wanted to use East Africa to protect her colonial interests in North Africa (Sudan and Egypt) and the Middle East.
  • The East African countries were under military obligation to support their colonial masters and therefore they had to provide more fighters.
  • Some Africans were already employed in the Kings African rifles (K.A.R) and when the war broke out, they definitely had to fight in the interest of the colonial master.
  • East African was directly involved in the funding of the war because the colonial masters had business in E.Africa that generated revenue.
  • Colonial powers recruited Africans to use them as human shields in the war mainly because Africans had proved to be very strong in any war or fight.
  • The white settlers in East Africa joined the war because they had set up bases and businesses in East Africa which they had to protect.
  • Some Africans fought out of ignorance i.e. some of them even volunteered to go Europe and fight for their colonial masters so that they could see what was in Europe.
  • Some Africans were forcefully taken by the colonial masters because the colonialists needed troops.
  • Some Africans wanted to prove to their colonial masters that they militarily strong and they could survive the war.
  • Some Africans wanted to acquire skills of battle to use in their fights against colonialism upon their return to East Africa.
  • The colonial masters had also tricked some Africans into joining the war i.e. some of them had been Promised Land, material benefits and jobs. 

1.3       EFFECTS OF THE WAR 1 ON EAST AFRICA           

  • The war severely disrupted the economic development in East Africa because it was too costly to suppress.
  • Agriculture greatly declined during the war because plantations were either destroyed or abandoned in order to concentrate on the war.
  • Depopulation .The war led to massive depopulation especially in Tanganyika as many people were killed and others migrated to safer areas.
  • It led to a period of famine and starvation because of the decline in agriculture.
  • The war led to an influx of white settlers particularly into Kenya which led to Africans losing their land
  • African attitude towards Europeans changed after the war and they started demanding for independence which led to the rise of African nationalism.
  • Ranks and medals were awarded to those who had successfully fought in the war hence creating a new class of ex-service men.
  • There was an outbreak and spread of diseases like meningitis, syphilis which were brought by the returning soldiers from Europe.
  • Many ex-service men copied western cultures which they introduced in E.Africa. e.g dress code.
  • There was massive destruction of property e.g railway lines, Villages, Buildings, which had taken years to build.
  • Trade and commerce also suffered greatly during the war which situation led to the spread of poverty.
  • The war ended with the defeat of Germany in 1918 and she was forced to surrender Tanganyika to the League of Nations.
  • After the defeat of the Germans, the whole of the E.African territory came to be under the British.
  • A number of reforms were introduced by British Tanganyika e.g in 1925, Sir Donald Cameroon introduced indirect rule in Tanganyika.
  • There was increased exploitation from the British in E.Africa because they wanted to compensate for the loses they made during world war for the loses they had made during world war