by Chima J. Korieh
Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. xii, 300.
Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $39.99. ISBN: 1108425801
An African Colony at War
While the roles of the Commonwealth and of India in supporting Britain during the Second World War are well known, that of Britain’s colonies in Africa, and elsewhere, has only recently begun to attract serious attention. In this work Professor Korieh (Marquette), a specialist in West African history, takes a look at the contribution to the war effort made by Nigeria, by far Britain’s largest colony after India.
Nigeria’s contributions to the British war effort were extensive. Some 45,000 Nigerian troops, both volunteers and forced recruits, campaigned in Italian East Africa in 1940-1941 and Burma in 1943-1945. In addition, individual Nigerians and tribal groups made substantial financial contributions to the war effort, while the colony’s resources and nascent industries supplied vital materials.
Korieh notes that support for the war had mixed roots, some Nigerians having bought into the idea of empire, while others considered the British the lesser of evils, and some opposed participation entirely. The war had some positive effects on Nigeria, such as expansion of infrastructure. Perhaps most important, in the war’s aftermath many of those who had served came to support independence, a phenomenon found in other colonies as well.
Nigeria and World War II offers a good overall look at Nigeria’s “national” role in the war, but Korieh’s account of the colony’s military contribution is essentially introductory.
Note: Nigeria and World War II is also available in several e-editions.
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