Wednesday, June 16, 2004

World War II - The Forgotten African Contribution

Brian points out something that really ought to have occurred to me earlier, given my own acquaintance with a few of those who participated: in terms of manpower, the African contribution to the war against Nazi Germany was far from minor, and yet there's been hardly any acknowledgement of this in the Western media.

I was listening to the African music show 'Couleurs tropicales' on Radio France Internationale. The host pointed something interesting in the light of the recent D-Day celebrations. According to and its partner Le Quotidien d'Oran, nearly 42,000 North and sub-Saharan Africans died in the Liberation of France ... The site also noted that while 292,000 Americans died in World War II, some 253,000 Africans were killed in defense of their colonial masters. So when the president, at his speech at Normandy tried magnanimously to acknowledge the contributions of other nationalities, "Across Europe, Americans shared the battle with Britains, Canadians, Poles, free French, and brave citizens from other lands taken back one by one from Nazi rule," he forgot an entire continent.
Shameful, isn't it? There is never a shortage of individuals willing to pile on Africans for their failings, real and imaginary, but when it comes to receiving recognition for good deeds, Africa is an entire continent full of invisible men.