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"Forgotten History" - The Impact of World War One on African territories




 

Introduction



The Forgotten Histories project has been launched by the African Heritage and Education Centre (AHEC) to highlight the contribution of African soldiers to the First World War with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The first phase is to introduce the impact of the First World War on boundary changes of African territories using maps from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). This series of maps focuses on boundary changes of some African territories from the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 to post war settlements and ultimately to independence.

The aims of the activity suggestions are for students to study the maps in order to:

  • Understand which African territories were controlled by European nations
  • Recognise the impact of World War One settlements on the boundaries of these territories
  • Consider the impact of independence on the boundaries of these territories

 

There are seven sections which focus on different areas of Africa. Each section includes background information which provides an overview of the African territories that were controlled by the European nations and include discussion questions.

The first section focuses on two political maps of Africa, the first map in 1914 and the second map in 1920 giving an overview of the changes following Germany’s defeat in the First World War. The other sections focus on the impact of the First World War on territories that were controlled by Germany in more detail.

 

 

  • Political maps of Africa, 1914 and 1920
  • East Africa: Tanzania
  • Southern Africa: Lesotho
  • South West Africa: Namibia
  • East Africa: Uganda
  • West Africa: Cameroon and Nigeria
  • West Africa: Togo and Ghana

 

 These are designed to support the KS3 history curriculum, the First World War and the Peace Settlement.







The political map showing international boundaries in 1914



African Political Map - Click to enlarge in new window
© Royal Geographical Society
The start of the 1880s saw a rapid increase in
European nations claiming territory in Africa,
culminating in the Berlin Conference in 1884-5
which saw the continent of Africa being divided
into colonies under European rule.
By 1914, the only independent African states were 
Liberia and Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
The political map showing international boundaries in 1914
is colour coded to show the territories
each European nation controlled:


 
  • German South West Africa, Cameroon, German East Africa, and Togo
  • British territories of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Egypt, Uganda, British East Africa, British Somaliland, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, South Africa, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, Swaziland, Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Zanzibar
  • French control of much of western Africa, French Equatorial Africa and Madagascar
  • Belgium control of the Congo
  • Portuguese rule of eastern Africa and Angola on the west
  • Italian control of Libya, Italian Somaliland and Eritrea
  • Spain with the smallest territory, Equatorial Guinea and Rio de Oro

Political map showing international boundaries in 1920



African Political Map - Click to enlarge in new window
© Royal Geographical Society
In 1920, after the First World War, the territories that had been under German control were divided between Britain and France.
German South West Africa became under British rule and was administered by the Union of South Africa.
Togoland was divided between French Togoland and British Togoland as League of Nations mandates.
Cameroon was divided between British Cameroon and French Cameroon. German East Africa became Tanganyika under British administration with the northwest regions of Ruanda and Urundi given to Belgium as League of Nations mandates.



 



 
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