Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

African Scouts and Soldiers

11 October 1899
Exposition in the General De Wet Hall, Anglo-Boer War Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa

The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British and the Boers, Afrikaans-speaking settlers in South Africa. Initially it had been decided not to include 'coloured troops' from other parts of the British empire in order to make it 'a white man's war.' However, both the British and the Boers were forced to include soldiers recruited from the African population in the course of the conflict. Consequently, more than 100.000 Africans served as scouts and labourers in the British forces. The commander-in-chief, Lord Kitchener, had to admit to the arming of more than 10.000 of these coloured soldiers. 

Read more? Jörn Leonhard, 'Nation-building, War Experiences, and European Models'  in: Fighting for a Living. A Comparative History of Military Labour 1500-2000 (2013)