As most of Africa was under European control in
1914, the continent was quickly sucked into the First World War.
Fearful of the political implications of pitting black troops against
white, Britain refused to deploy a large African army for service
in Europe, though various groups such as the 20,000-strong South
African Native Labour Contingent served as non-combatants behind
the lines on the Western Front. African troops were used almost
exclusively in the war in Africa.
Yet the rewards for such loyal service at the end of the war were
minimal. The Paris peace conference concentrated on dividing up
the spoils of Germany's African empire among the victorious Allies,
who showed little interest in extending the principles of self-determination
to black Africans.
With the exception of white-ruled South Africa, of the British-occupied
territories in post-war Africa only Egypt made much progress in
this direction. However, the 'independence' that it gained in 1922
was nominal, allowing Britain to maintain control of the Suez Canal.
Elsewhere - in Kenya,
for example - white settlers continued to enjoy political and land
privileges that were denied to the black population. This situation
did not change greatly until after the Second World War.