The Great War was waged as much by workers—including soldiers—from the South as the North. Black and Brown soldiers recruited from across European empires experienced and perpetrated extreme violence in the African campaigns in which they took part. This essay imagines colonial troops as Global South soldiers, using the space of German East Africa as a site where they become visible as such. It foregrounds their battlefield histories to call attention to new ways of thinking about their roles in the war. First, it speculates on how experiences between 1914 and 1918 in one African theater of the war created shared meanings amongst soldiers, regardless of their origins. Second, it posits that the violent work soldiers performed in the name of empire was a formative experience for millions of men who fought, and suggests that a shift in vantage point for thinking about the war is constructive in reassessing the war’s legacies one hundred years on.
1 May 2018