a1 lately at the Department of History, University of Ibadan1
In the first full-scale fighting between white forces on African territory, the Boer War, Africans had been cast by the opponents in the rôle of an animated geographical background.3. When, however, the European struggle of 1914–18 was projected onto the continent, Africans were enrolled by both sides into the dramatis personae of the conflict. World War I resulted in a European mobilisation of African manpower on a scale unknown until that time,4 with the possible exception of the South African mines. The Nigerian Administration alone recruited 13,980 troops,5 and supplied approximately 10,000 carriers,6 so that the British armed forces in this period even outpaced the tin mines and railways as an employer of Nigerian manpower.7 Indeed, given the relative size of the population and degree of British administrative control it is arguable that the effect of this scale of recruitment was equivalent in its local impact to the later military mobilisation of 10,000 Nigerians during World War 11.8
1 The author of this article died in July 1975 before completing the thesis on ‘The Army in Modem Nigeria, 1914–1958’ which he was preparing for a Ph.D. in History at the University of Ibadan under the supervision of Professor T. N. Tamuno. The present version, slightly edited at Ibadan by Robert Smith, constitutes chapter iv of the draft thesis, made available by Mrs Patricia Barrett.