Africa Soldiers; How Africa Saved Europe, During World Wars
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
This is part of the world’s untold and sparsely documented history. It is how Africa saved the world over and over again. Africa was compelled and conscripted to fight the economic and social strife for America and Europe and thereby gave America and Europe the breathing space and freedom at industrialization.
There are phases and stages in these processes. First, it was the horrors and brutalities of the enslavement of Africans which provided free unpaid labor for the homes and fields of Americans and Europeans; thus, enabling Americans and Europeans to cultivate large expanses of lands in plantations forms. Cash crops in the fields and animal husbandries in large scale and the production of lard, created a wealth base for slave owners.
A second wave of horrors and brutalities came in the form of colonialism. Colonialism meant the usurpation of economic, political, cultural, linguistic and religious flora and fauna of native peoples, particularly, Africans. Colonialism meant the cannibalizations and stripping off of all tangibles and intangibles of Africa, for the upkeep and maintenance and for the sole purpose of preserving the home countries of the colonizers at the expense of the colonized African peoples.
Then there were the World Wars, I and II. During which Africans were hauled off their homeland once again, to bear the burdens of the crises in Europe for which Africans had no part or role in creating in the first place! The Europeans created World Wars, for their own purpose and for the tribal superiority dance between themselves, these in no way benefited African or have Africans in the conception or contemplation. However Africa became a tool of the execution and implementation of policies during these World Wars. Africa, innocent in all these, in effect, saved the Americans and Europeans from themselves during World Wars; this is a story of Africa’s unsung acted as catalysts, impetus for world peace, in facilitating the war efforts and bringing those wars to successful conclusions.
Quite unfortunately though, Africans have never been recognized for their heroic efforts during these wars in lands strange and far away from the lands of Africans who fought to extricate Europeans.
After the Second World War of course, there was the so-called Marshall Plan, to help countries in Europe, to rehabilitate, reconstruct and re-develop. Japan, an “enemy” country to the western powers during the war, was amazingly, among the countries that were bailed out in the post Second World War boom and not surprisingly, Africa was left to fend for herself and colonialism actually continued after 1945, except that the conscripted African soldiers were now among the rest of Africans demanding political independence and freedom from colonizers of Europe.
Every year on June 6, since 1945, Americans and Europeans celebrate the end of the Second World War and the celebrations are loud and offensive to me. The mere mention of these celebrations is offensive to me as it demonstrates and exemplifies the very reason why the world may yet head for another World War! The complete disregard and disrespect of others’ work, contributions and sufferings.
Three members of my family were conscripted to fight in the World War II. And, so were many other African families. There is so much that is wrong with this. First, it is that, Africans had nothing whatsoever to do with precipitating World Wars. Secondly, it should be mentioned that even being forced to eat your favorite food is not pleasant, then imagine being forced or conscripted to fight wars for which you played no role in creating and no benefit in its outcome, a war in which you are required to make supreme sacrifice, unlike your American or European counterparts, whose real interest is represented in the World Wars brutalities.
Thirdly, the foot-soldiers, Africans, Americans and Europeans soldiers, at the warfronts were told that they were fighting to liberate Europeans who were being subjugated and put in bondage by Adolf Hitler, meanwhile, continental Africans and peoples of African descent, were under even more severe, brutal and most egregious bondage in Africa and elsewhere in the world! For instance, African American soldiers during the World Wars had less rights compared with Germans who were taken as war prisoners by the Americans. African Americans returned to America to face the continued and abundant brutalities of discrimination, segregation and racism in America.
Fourthly, continental Africans who fought the World Wars through conscription by Europeans colonial governments received the rawest of the deals. Continental Africans played no roles in creating the World Wars. Continental Africans were forced, conscripted into the fight for the freedoms of Europeans during a time when Africans themselves were under colonial bondage, subjugation and brutal domination by the same European governments who have usurped the political and economic powers of continental Africans, while compelling same Africans to fight for the freedoms of Europeans who self-inflict the World Wars!
Fifthly, in all of these, after sixty years of lavish annual celebrations, there has so far never been a moment of recognition for the bravery of African soldiers who were conscripted and compelled into the fight to save Europeans from fellow Europeans, save them from themselves, while Africans remained in bondage!
I was certain at some point that Mr. Kofi Annan, as United Nations’ Secretary General, would bring this gallant role by African soldiers, who were mere tools of the Americans and Europeans in their World Wars would finally be recognized. But it never happened. And now, Mr. Obama just went to Normandy and before that, Nuremberg, expressing grief over Europeans’ brutalities and murderous imbecility by Europeans against fellow Europeans. Mr. Obama expressed solidarity with Europe and sung praises of America’s storied rescue of Europe from the World Wars which Europe had wrought upon itself!
Mr. Obama is a very good student of American history. Mr. Obama is very urbane and knowledgeable. I will have to assume that he is also a student of world history, and that leaves me to wonder when he will mourn over slavery and colonialism public, the way he has publicly and profusely mourned over Jewish suffering through the Holocaust. Beyond Mr. Obama’s speech on race during the American election campaign which brought him to power as US president, I am yet to see Mr. Obama bring his storied eloquence and rhetorical flourishes to issues of historical injustices, slavery, colonialism, treatment of African soldiers in World War II, and the complete neglect of these unsung heroes which African soldiers are, the other buffalo soldiers of World Wars! I am certain that Mr. Obama is not selectively eloquent and speechifying gifted, when matters are not of Africans and peoples of African descent! If he is afraid to take a stand for us, because he does not want to offend others or rock the boat; do we then really need him? Apart from symbolism, what is then, our gain or progress in his ascent?
Mr. Obama’s recent Normandy performance with Nicholas Sarkozy of France at his side, makes me wonder whether there is ever going to be a time in my lifetime in which a sitting American president and leaders in the Europe, as well as leaders at the United Nations would set aside bigotry and finally extol the roles and contributions of African soldiers in liberating Europeans from bondage created by other Europeans.
It is public knowledge for instance, how some Americans rebuked France for disagreeing with Mr. George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, in rebuking France, these Americans argued that France was ungrateful and forgetful of roles Americans played in liberating France from Adolf Hitler’s siege.
Meanwhile, France, Britain or America has never expended even a few seconds to recognize roles played by Africans in these liberation efforts! If anyone reading this was to argue that the roles played by Africans were ever so slightly relevant to the war efforts or that it was insubstantially insignificant and infinitesimal, why, oh why, was it necessary to conscript the Africans in the first place?
Africans have grown accustomed to hearing we have no contributions whatsoever to human civilizations, and no contributions in rescuing the human race from World Wars, and of course, wars which were created by non Africans and not for the benefit of Africans! Africans are happily very Christian simpletons, who are forever forgiving others! Forgiving others, for most egregiously horrendous treatments seemingly reserved for Africans all through history.
Why is it, that Africans are never angry about these things? These complete disregards, disrespects, the stripping of humanity and dignity, deprivations of recognitions for work done, and sundry contributions etc?