Mbala, Zambia 25.11.2018 WW1 Remembrance Service
On Sunday in this remote part of Zambia a remembrance service will be held for those who died in the 1914-1918 war during the East Africa campaign. Here is a link to an excellent and brief history of it by Indy Neidal. Its really worth watching. Many people will be surprised to learn of this devastating and terrible campaign in which so many people died from famine and disease as a result. There are no war graves for most of them. What many people do not know is that the Germans were not defeated in East Africa and General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck only surrendered 2 weeks after the final ceasefire was declared in Europe.
The 1914-1918 War Cemetery, Marondera, Zimbabwe
I discovered a tiny cemetery on a visit to my mother. It was hidden away in the bush, a sad neglected place of iron crosses and concrete slabs protected by a barbed wire fence. Some of the graves held the bodies of soldiers who died a slow death from blackwater fever and were only buried in 1919. As a girl I had put on my Red Cross Uniform and attended the Remembrance Day Service in the Harare city park. I thought then, that both World Wars were fought so far away that they hadn’t touched Africa. How wrong I was! My father joined the Gold Coast (Ghana) Regiment and served in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Kenya. Of course he never spoke of it. Doris Lessing wrote The Children Of Violence, her theme was that every generation suffers its war. What I gradually came to realise was that centuries of European wars have impacted on Africa with European powers fighting each other for ownership of their colonies. This fact explains the East Africa Campaign. It is why I wrote The Tin Heart Gold Mine. It is why there is a Remembrance Service in Mbala tomorrow.
Abercorn, Northern Rhodesia, 25.11.1918
I am fortunate to know two interesting people. One is Roger Chongwe, a Human Rights lawyer, whose forebears suffered death and famine during the East African Campaign. I also know Colin Carlin whose family lived and worked in Abercorn. He has an excellent and informative website on this area and its history here at Abercornucopia. It saddens me that there is not much more acknowledgement of this campaign that resulted in the deaths of over one million people.
Books about the East Africa Campaign and a request from me
There are interesting books about it. Marching on Tanga by Francis Brett Young, Mimi and Toutou go Forth by Giles Foden, and the brilliant An Icecream War by William Boyd. You all know the film The African Queen with Hepburn and Bogart from the book by C S Forester. My book, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, is not about that period but touches on all the wars that have affected Africa.
**I have 10 free copies to give away in exchange for an honest review. Please just email me your address and I will post my book to you.
Armies march on their stomachs and in their boots! I note that von Lettow-Vorbeck provided his Askaris with boots and The British under General Smuts used barefoot porters. Another curious fact is that some of the British explorers and adventurers, men like Frank Selous, who died in this campaign, and Francis Brett Young were more inclined to socialism and republicanism even though they chose to fight in the 1914-1918 East African War.
They will not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, or the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
May they all rest in peace, but please, do also remember the deaths in Africa caused by European wars.