Download PDF by Melvin E. Page (eds.): Africa and the First World War

By Melvin E. Page (eds.)

ISBN-10: 0312004117

ISBN-13: 9780312004118

ISBN-10: 1349188271

ISBN-13: 9781349188277

ISBN-10: 1349188298

ISBN-13: 9781349188291

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There was only one road and there were hundreds of guards who kept an eye on who was leaving and entering the town. (2,1,6) Though the experience at Conakry was fraught with fear and uncertainty, a more terrifying ordeal awaited the men- the voyage to Bordeaux. For all aboard ship the crossing was a journey beyond the bounds of knowledge; most had never before left their villages and few had seen the ocean. Kamara grimly remembered the 'unstableness of the vessel' (1,2,9) and the fact that 'everything was sealed from us; we never knew what was happening- you were confined to your room and where you were sitting' (2,1,8).

As is evident in the case of Kadiou Yoro, whose ordeal is presented through the eyes of a French witness, only the most general observations about his experience are possible; how he 30 The West African Experience in France understood the fate which befell him, and how it influenced his life thereafter, remains an enigma. Because of the dearth of written accounts by Africans, the oral history of a Guinean veteran, Kande Kamara, offers a unique opportunity for assessing the war's impact on French colonials.

Not only influenza, or their often unwilling participation in the war, but also a series of other Melvin E. Page 17 changes in their lives were occasioned by the conflict. Manpower shortages wreacked havoc in countless villages as absent soldiers and carriers could neither care for loved ones nor bear their share of the usual labours. In some areas, houses went unrepaired and crops were neglected, contributing to a pattern of general ecological deterioration. North-eastern Rhodesia, and elsewhere, suffered doubly as untended fields allowed wild animals to extend their grazing areas, bringing not only 'more and more destruction to African gardens and grain storage bins', but also greater tsetse-fly infestations which significantly reduced the areas available for cattle herding.

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Africa and the First World War by Melvin E. Page (eds.)


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