Hello dear friends. When we talk about the World War I, we often think about Europe, whereas, as the name suggests , the war is international Other continents have a stake in the war, such Africa, who was under colonial domination of the major European powers.
Today, I propose to refer a bit of the colonial troops, whose role has sometimes been forgotten. As a reminder, the period before the World War I has been marked by the division of Africa. Indeed, the major European powers carved the African continent since the second half of the 19th century, and we have to remember the Berlin Conference of 1885, which has settled the African colonisation rules and established a first division. It didn’t prevent several diplomatic incident, as the Fachoda crisis between France and the United Kingdom in 1898, and also the Morocco crisis, also called Agadir crisis : this diplomatic incident, caused by the sending of a German warship off the Frenc Morocco coast in 1911, has nearly caused an open warfare.
However, after discussion, Germany gives up on its ambition on Marocco because France grant some territorials compensation in Africa This incident allowed the German Cameroun to expend in 272.000 km² and the French and the British to strengthen their alliance and their understanding. Overall, before beginning of the Great War, Africa also represented an European theatre scene: only two states remained independant, Liberia and Ethiopia the rest is controlled by France and England, that owned much of the terrirories but also by Germany, that we just discussed, Spain, Portugal and of course, Italy and Belgium. When World War I took place, a large number of African soldiers were ready to fight for their empires. In France, at the beginning of the African colonial empire, military regimes are introduced: for example, the famous Senegalese riflemen, from which some were not Senegalese but Africans in general. During World War I, it is 135,000 of them that will leave for Europe. Their enrollment was somehow suspicious. Most of them are requisitioned in cantons and villages through a policy of quota and therefore, a lot of soldiers are unsuitable. We promised them a lot of rights and acknowledgment, and sometimes premiums, medals or clothing. What is less said is that many rebelions occured against the requisitions. They are hidden from public eye, while some are severely reprimanded. We did not talk about it yet, but unlike many people may think, the colonial troops and Senegalese riflemen are two distinct things: the colonial troops are in charge of defending the colonies, its infantry, and its artillery that are mostly composed of metropolitain French, where the nickname “white colonial units” comes from. With them, we find the Senegalese riflemen, but also riflemen from other colonies such as Malagasy or Indo-Chinese riflemen. The other European powers will also have their colonial troops, the English recruted, for example, a lot in India. If Europe had had been a war theatres for colonial troops, so were the colonies While in Togo the German troops moved forward in 1914 against the French and Belgians, the situation is longer and more complexe on other territories: In Cameroon, for example, the German armies strongly resisted from inside the lands, carrying a guerilla, before they surrender in 1916. In South-Western Africa, in Namibia, the Germans are also resisted, mostly because of the Boers from South Africa, who had rebelled against the British; but in 1915, the colonial capital city of Windhoek falls. However, in Eastern Africa, German troops will resist until the end of the war against the Bergians, the Portugese and the British. If African was a colonial war theater, it is not the only one. European powers sometimes also own lands in Asia, including several cities in China One of the most important colonial battles is precisely the siege of Tsingtao opposing the Germans, who own the city, to the Japanese and the British. This battle comes after the refusal of the Germans to leave the region. At the outcome of this conflict, German settlers are interned in Japan et will be freed only in 1920. Colonial troops will be used for some time, because they take action till the very end of African colonies, after the WWI. However, Germany won’t dispose of it because at the end of the WWI it is dispossessed of all of its colonies, which are divided between France, England, Japan and Belgium. That’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed this episode, don’t hesitate to share it, to like it and to cpmment it. Don’t forget to have a look at the CNCTalent channel, there are plenty other videomakers that create cool stuff. See you next time for another episode about the WWI. Bye!