The Impact of the First World War on South African Blacks

  • Albert Grundlingh

Abstract

As far as South Africa is concerned, certain advances have recently occurred in the study of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902 providing systematic investigation of some of the wider effects of the war on the various societies involved.1 The same cannot be said of South Africa’s involvement in the First World War. For a background to the war period one is dependent on general, though stimulating, overviews by S. E. Katzenellenbogen2 and N. G. Garson.3 Given the lack of interest in South Africa and the First World War, it is not surprising to find that black participation in the conflict has passed almost unnoticed.4 Except for a pioneering article by Brian Willan on the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC) which served in France,5 little is known about black involvement and even less about responses that such a cataclysmic event as the First World War elicited from various African groupings. This chapter makes no claim to be exhaustive nor to cover the total impact of the war. Rather, it does attempt to evaluate some of the issues mooted by Willan and, in so doing, to apply some of the ‘ideas about war and society that are familiar to European history’ which David Killingray has noted ‘are now being moved south into Africa’.6 It will attempt to evaluate the general consequences of the war as they relate to the black population — in South Africa and to assess the hypothesis — common in some studies of war and society — that underprivileged groups in society tend to benefit from wartime changes.

Keywords

Burning Europe Income Marketing Assure 

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Notes

  1. 1.
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Copyright information

© Melvin E. Page 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert Grundlingh

There are no affiliations available

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