Lesson Two – Sub-Topic: East Africa and World war II


Qn:  Why did East Africa get involved in world war 11? 

  • World war 11 was fought between 1939 and 1945 in Europe.
  • It was between Germany, Italy and their allies against Britain, France and their allies.
  • East Africa was under the rule of one of the warlords.
  • When the war broke out, it was impossible for east Africa to remain neutral.
  • Moreover the Germans in east Africa had conflicting opinions: some supported Hitler while others did not.
  • There were British in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and yet back at home they were both opponent warlords.
  • In neighboring Somalia and Eritrea was Italy.
  • The presence of such opponents in such areas caused suspension and tension.
  • Several battalions of the Kings African Riffles (KAR) were stationed on the Somalia boarder.
  • East Africa also contributed large sums of money to the British war cost.
  • In 1940, Italy joined the war as German ally.
  • Later when japan joined the war on Germany’s side and attacked Britain, the KAR was expanded to 30 battalions.
  • Thousands of East African soldiers went to India and Burma while others went to Madagascar.
  • The KAR was used because of their good performance in the First World War and the need to protect British interests in the Far East. 


  • Many Kenyans fought in the war and they served in Middle East, Burma, India, and Somalia.
  • They fought side by side with the Europeans, Indians and Arabs.
  • European superiority was spoilt.
  • They expanded their Horizons from the new land and people.
  • While in the army, they learnt how to read and write in English, others learnt technical skills.
  • After the war, the ex-service men became more critical and were less prepared to submit to subordination.
  • They demanded for better conditions for Africans.
  • Several ex-service men became leaders of the nationalistic movements for example Dedan Kimath, General China.
  • Anti- colonial movements overseas gave encouragement and support to Africans in the struggle (Mau-Mau).
  • There was loss of lives of the people of east Africa leading to depopulation.
  • The war experiences led to the rise of nationalism among the East Africans. 

Qn :     what were the effects of world-war 11 on the peoples of east Africa?