Second World War 

Second World War 

Second World War . This was the second global war that broke out in 1939. Just like World War 1, it was Germany that was blamed for causing the war under Adolf Hitler. Due to Germany’s wish to control the entire world, she ended up conflicting with other world superpowers e.g. Britain, France, and U.S.A.

Germany formed an alliance with Italy and Japan to disorganize world peace and this war spread throughout the world in just a flash which led to East Africa’s involvement.

Why did East Africa get involved in the War?

  • East Africa was under military obligation to support its colonial master which was Britain at the time of the outbreak of the war.
  • East Africa was directly involved in the funding of the war because she had to support her colonial master, Britain.
  • East Africa’s colonial master-Britain did not have enough troops to fight in the war and therefore she had to turn to East Africa for troops.
  • Some ambitious personalities wanted to go and fight alongside the colonial master so that they could acquire skills which they would use to fight colonialism upon their return e.g. Waruhiu Itote who came to be known as General China spearheaded the Mau-Mau rebellion in 1954.
  • Some people in Tanganyika supported Hitler hoping that Tanganyika would return to Germany and Britain could not let this happen, hence involving East Africa.
  • The presence of Italy in Somalia and Eritrea also scared the British because these colonies were adjacent to East Africa particularly Kenya.
  • Japan’s involvement in the war also scared the British because they had to protect their interests across the Indian Ocean waters.
  • The presence of such opponents in such areas caused suspicion and tension.
  • Several battalions of the King’s African Rifles (K.A.R) were stationed on the Somalia border.
  • Troops moved into Kenya joined by contingents from Nigeria, Ghana e.t.c.
  • Britain and Germany were already enemies in Europe and therefore their mistrusts and suspicions were extended to East Africa leading to her involvement.
  • Africans had performed quite so well in World War 1, so the Europeans decided to use them again.
  • Italy’s involvement in the war forced the British to recruit more Africans in the King’s African Rifles which was the colonial army.
  • Thousands of East African soldiers went to Burma, India, Madagascar and Europe to join the war leading to East Africa’s involvement.

Effects of the war on East Africa

  • Many people were killed, wounded and others were permanently crippled in the military campaigns in Somalia, Burma and Ethiopia.
  • Many people were forcefully recruited in the colonial army-K.A.R and they were forced to go and fight in foreign lands like Burma and Somalia.
  •  The was disrupted and exports declined. E.g. Ugandan coffee and cotton prices fell and many people lost their businesses.
  • A lot of man power was devoted to fighting and agriculture was neglected, it led to reduced food production which led to an outbreak of famine.
  • The family system was disrupted as men were forced to abandon their wives and children to go and fight in foreign lands like Burma.
  • The war veterans also brought and spread venereal diseases and other sexually transmitted diseases like Syphilis and Gonorrhea.
  • Many people in Tanganyika were imprisoned during the war especially those who had supported the Germans during the battle.
  • The war led to serious depopulation as many people were taken to fight and others migrated to other regions.
  • Since the ex-soldiers had acquired military skills during the war, they spearheaded the campaigns against colonialism upon their return e.g. General China led the Mau-Mau rebellion.
  • The war sowed seeds of nationalism in East Africa especially in Kenya where Ex-soldiers formed militant groups like Mau-Mau.
  • The ex-servicemen caused resettlement problems on their return e.g. they had no land and most of them wanted to stay in urban areas where there were no jobs. 
  • Italy was defeated during the war which forced her to surrender to the British and this led to the British extension of her colonial territory to include Port Kismayo, Somalia and southern Ethiopia.
  • After the war, Tanganyika became a trusteeship of the British under a UNO provision towards self government.
  • The war led to the formation of the UNO, which strongly de-campaigned colonialism and this led to the Independence of East African countries in the early 1960s.
  • The British government directed technical schools and institutions to introduce and produce war equipment.
  • Many European communities began to change their attitude towards Africans for the better.

How World War II led to the growth of Nationalism in Kenya

  • Many people fought in the war and served in the Middle East, Burma, India, and Somalia where they fought alongside Europeans, Arabs and Indians.
  • On their return to East Africa, the ex-servicemen spearheaded the independence struggles. This was due to the following:
  • Ex-service men came back with a changed attitude towards colonialism. They had been exposed to better conditions in Europe and Asia and therefore wanted to fight poverty and misery in East Africa.
  • Unemployment that resulted from the war forced ex-service men to join militant groups like Mau-Mau to fight the colonialists and improve their living conditions.
  • It destroyed the myths about whites e.g. the war exposed the Africans and they were able to see that the white man could also die and flee in battles.
  • British policy changed after the war e.g. Africans developed closer contacts with the British due to the fact that many ex-soldiers were allowed to attain education and grow crops.
  • Africans learnt revolutionary ideas like liberty, equality and fraternity after realizing that in Europe, these were the major reasons as to why the Europeans were fighting each other.
  • Kikuyu and Luo broke into Asian shops and they got a strong economic force which they used to support the Nationalistic movements like Mau-Mau.
  • Africans were allowed to form political parties and even join the LEGCO and this led to African political activism.
  • Formation of UNO also speeded up the growth of Nationalism mainly because the international body was against colonialism and encouraged Africans to demand for self rule.
  • The war led to the rise of educated and prominent personalities like Jomo Kenyatta, Dedan Kimathi who were able to organize and mobilize the masses to achieve self rule.
  • The war exposed the Africans to the value of solidarity and unity. The Africans were able to realize the need for a united force in their quest for independence.
  • The war led to the emergence of new super powers e.g. USA and Soviet Union to replace Britain and Germany and gave their support to the Africans to fight for their independence.
  • Africans learnt how to use military vehicles, sophisticated weapons and military tactics and upon their return to East Africa, they taught the local people.