Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Contribution of Ethiopia and Other African Nations for World Peace During the WWII

Last week, I published a post regarding Remembrance Day.

This week, I came across an article by BBC regarding the over 1.3 million African troops that helped fight Nazis and Fascists. The article, written by Martin Plaut, BBC Africa analyst, shows Africa’s contribution to World Peace during the Second World War by fighting aggressive invaders with in Africa and even going to Europe fighting the Nazis and the Fascists.

Thanks to Martin Plaut and the BBC for brining this to its readers’ attention. I hope that the West will remember Africa’s forgotten soldiers and patriots, who fought for World Peace side by side with peace loving nations.

Ethiopian General Jagama Kello at 15 years of age during the WWII fighting Fascist Italy

Ethiopian Patriot Jagamo Kello (shown in the middle) left home at just 15 to fight Italian invaders
Photo Circa 1936

Martin Plaut says,

“The 70th anniversary of World War II is being commemorated around the world, but the contribution of one group of soldiers is almost universally ignored. How many now recall the role of more than one million African troops?

Yet they fought in the deserts of North Africa, the jungles of Burma and over the skies of Germany. A shrinking band of veterans, many now living in poverty, bitterly resent being written out of history.
For Africa, World War II began not in 1939, but in 1935.

Italian Fascist troops, backed by thousands of Eritrean colonial forces, invaded Ethiopia.
Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee to the UK, but others, known as Patriots, fought on. Among them was Jagama Kello. Fifteen years old at the time, he left home and raised a guerrilla force that struck at the Italian invaders”.

Africa’s WWII Forgotten Soldiers in Graph

Graphic, showing the numbers of African soldiers involved in WWII

The sad part is Eritrea had 60,000 colonial troops that took side with Fascist Italy and attacked Ethiopia while the rest of Africans helped the British and Americans.

As you can see from the image above, Africa had four major colonial powers at the time:

  • Britain
  • France
  • Italy, and
  • Belgium

Ethiopia was / and has always been free from Colonialism and the 30,000 Patriots depicted on the graph are those actively participated in the defeat of Fascist Italy either with in Ethiopia or abroad. Other sources say that the 30,000 figure is way too small and estimate it to be 100,000 plus.

Ethiopia was one of the leading countries in the UN’s peace keeping activities in the 50’s and 60’s. Ethiopian soldiers did go to Korea in early 1950’s and Kongo in early 1960’s to help out with peace keeping in those countries. Most of the Ethiopian soldiers who went to Korea and Congo have passed away, but their legacy lives forever.

I believe nations like South Korea have a moral responsibility to help Ethiopian soldiers who were there for them in times of war. If the soldiers have died, then South Korea should help the children of those soldiers. This could be done in many ways, like giving scholarship to some universities in Korea, opening an elementary school and/or library in Ethiopia, paying a small monthly stipend to those soldiers who are still alive or their surviving family members.

On a different note, the Ethiopian governments past and present have not done much for fighters like Jagamo Kello, Abdissa Aga, and many other patriots who fought hard Fascist Italy. It is true that some have been recognized, like Balcha Hospital in Addis Ababa (named after the great warrior Balcha Aba Nefso), Belai Zellekke (a street named for his bravery). But, generally, most of the patriots have been forgotten by the government; no schools, no streets, nothing in their names.

I believe that Ethiopian historians at Addis Ababa University can bring names of forgotten Ethiopian patriots to the attention of the government for a recognition. and I hope that the time will come when all patriots will get the much deserving appreciation from the government.

The full BBC article can be read here

Have a great weekend.

My next article will be posted on November 19, 2009

November 11, 2009 - Posted by | Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Holidays, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Politics, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] November 11: The Contribution of Ethiopia and Other African Nations for World Peace During the WWII […]

    Pingback by Ethiopian Vancouver Blog: Looking at My 2009 Posts « Vancouver Ethiopian Blog | January 6, 2010 | Reply

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