How East Africa was Involved in the First World War

It was Germany that provoked Britain into war by attacking her colonies first. However the Britain using stronger machinery managed to drive the Germans back to their territory. The greater part of the war therefore ended up being fought in present - day Tanzania.

The British force was bigger, comprising of about 4250 soldiers, which was an advantage over the Germans. It was this force that was used to crush and defeat the German force comprising of 2750 soldiers and a similar number of policemen. ..

The Germans hoped to win the war through disorganizing the British. They therefore attacked the railway line and Taveta and Voi were all seized. This was the work of the skillful German commander, Von Lettow Vorbeck.

Britain did not sit back as she attacked Tanga with more troops flown in from India. In the initial stages she was unsuccessful until more reinforcement was sought from South Africa. This arrived under General Smuts. The Germans were utterly defeat and pushed back to the Kilimanjaro areas.

British allies arrived from Rhodesia and Nyasaland under General Northey. British troops advanced

Tabora from Burundi and Rwanda. With such a big force Germany had to lose

The German commander, Von Lettov Vorbeck used his skills to evade capture when his forces were utterly defeated and forced out of East Africa in 1917. His defeated forces ran to Mozambique and Northern Rhodesia.

By November 1918, the war had ended and sanity slowly returned to the region. Effects of the War on East Africa

The war had a number of political, economic and social effects on East Africa, but most of these were negative and affected mostly Tanzania where the actual fighting took place.

The war severely disrupted economic development in the three countries. This was due to the fact that fighting brought every economic activity to a standstill.

Agriculture greatly declined, European plantations were destroyed or abandoned in order to concentrate on the war. African cultivation was equally affected resulting into famine.

Trade and commerce also suffered greatly during the war. The war situation could not allow trade to go on. In the end, people lost the source of their economic power and became poor.

Lives were lost. Many Africans, Europeans and Asians were killed, wounded and others permanently disabled during the war campaigns.

There was massive destruction of property e.g. villages, buildings, bridges, railway lines and towns that took years to build were all destroyed in four years

There was an outbreak and spread of diseases like small pox, meningitis, plagues and venereal diseases like syphilis. That were brought by the returning soldiers.

There was a serious outbreak of influenza between 1918 and 1919 which killed many people.

There was a lot of suffering, misery and anarchy. Families were destabilized, as men had to leave their families (women and children) to go to the war front.

After the war, the influx of European settlers into East Africa increased. These were mostly ex - soldiers which meant more loss of land by the Africans.

With the increased European settlement in Kenya, settlers started agitating for political power and representation in government.

African attitude towards Europeans changed. Many Africans became critical of European rule hence rise of nationalism. There was the copying of western cultures especially by the ex - soldiers.

Ranks and medals were awarded to those who had successfully fought in the war, thus creating a new class of the ex - servicemen.

The war ended with the defeat of Germany in 1918. She was forced to surrender all her overseas colonies (including Tanganyika) to the newly - formed League of Nations.

In 1920, Britain took over German East Africa and renamed it Tanganyika. She (Britain) was mandated to administer the area on behalf of the League of Nations.

Rwanda and Burundi were also transferred to Belgium as mandates to be added to Belgian Congo. Hence transferred from East Africa to Central Africa.

After the defeat of the Germans in Tanganyika, the whole of the East African territory came to be under the British.

A number of reforms were instituted by the new British administration. For example, Sir Donald Cameron introduced indirect rule (to replace German direct rule)

There was increased exploitation because the British wanted to compensate for the losses they had incurred during the war.