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The War of Thangata: Nyasaland and The East African Campaign, 1914-1918

Melvin E. Page
The Journal of African History
Vol. 19, No. 1, World War I and Africa (1978), pp. 87-100
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/180613
Page Count: 14
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The War of Thangata: Nyasaland and The East African Campaign, 1914-1918
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Abstract

During World War I, Africans in Nyasaland were called upon to provide large numbers of soldiers and military labourers for the war effort in eastern Africa. Although a few willingly volunteered, many more objected, and some resisted. In this situation, colonial officals used force to secure the necessary manpower. Africans, therefore, called the conflict 'the war of thangata', referring to the growing colonial demands for taxes and for labour rent on European estates. The tasks which the soldiers and carriers were called upon to perform were equally likened to thangata, being 'work which was done without real benefit'. So far from receiving rewards, Africans found that inadequate food, clothing, and medical care contributed greatly to the sufferings associated with a military campaign. Between 1914 and 1918 wartime manpower requirements, and war service, gave full meaning to colonial rule throughout the protectorate. The response to these demands and this suffering brought, in the form of both traditional and modern religious and social institutions, the first tentative stirrings of African nationalism in Nyasaland.

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