On The Sideline -Photographs of the East and West African Campaigns in World War 1 project to mark First World War Centenary

M-prez Enterprise Ltd has received a National Lottery grant of £9,900 for the On the Sideline project based in Derby. Awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War then and now programme, the project will focus on Photographs of the East and West African Campaigns in World War One.  

To mark the Centenary of the First World War, the project will enable local people in Derby and the Midlands to come together to explore the British East and West African Campaign and its Black Soldiers who fought during WW1 also known in Africa as the Great War, through photographs. The project offers lectures to participants and will train volunteers in archiving, research and interpretation as well as providing visits to the Imperial War Museum and other archives to inspect their collection of photographs. These photographs will enable the volunteers to interpret the stories in a new way.

Although the Great War had a global impact on communities, families and individuals, there has been relatively minor coverage of the involvement of Black, Arab and Indian African soldiers under British command during the conflict. The East and West African Campaigns, although sometimes considered a sideshow for Britain, was very real for those in Africa where many indigenous Africans lost their lives in combat or through diseases.

Participants and volunteers will be helped to understand why Africa and other colonies were involved in something that was characterised as a European war.

We would like to share the information by creating a booklet with the information we find. To this end, we will be working in partnership with Nottingham University’s “The Centre for Hidden Histories” and supported by the Derby Community Trust, Derby Museum and historians Dr Anne Samson and Emeritus Professor David Killingray.

Tomar Beh CEO of M-prez Enterprise said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players, it has been long overdue that African communities in the UK are recognised for their involvement during the First World War, their ancestors fighting and dying on the behalf of Great Britain.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands said: “I’m thrilled that thanks to National Lottery players we have been able to support this exciting project to record the lesser known experiences and contributions of East and West African soldiers to Britain’s First World War effort. This project presents diverse communities in Derby with an opportunity to engage in this heritage through research, workshops and community sharing events.”