When I picture the two named World Wars, I do not immediately conjure images of Africa, so when reading the next section in Hew Strachan's book, The First World War, I found some of the African portions of the war to be interesting.
By this time, the war is truly world-encompassing. Nowhere is that more obvious than on the African continent.
In 1914 the entire continent of Africa with the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia was under the rule of European powers, principally Britain, France, Belgium and Germany. Of the other colonial powers in Africa, Spain, Italy and Portugal, and Spain remained neutral throughout the war, and Portugal entered the conflict in 1916 principally in order to secure international support for its shaky authority in Africa.
To many whites it seemed self-evident that the use of colonial troops to topple other European powers could only be self-destructive in the long term. War would rekindle the very warrior traditions that colonialism had been designed to extirpate, and ultimately the black trained to use a rifle against a white enemy might turn his weapon on his own white ruler.
Smuts was determined that his campaign was going to prove the invincibility of the white man. The South-West African campaign had been an affair of whites only. When the 1915 mixed-race Africans had offered to rise in revolt in support of the South Africans, the later rejected their cooperation for racial reasons.
Strachan wraps up this section with this:
In the eighteenth century Britain and France had fought each other in India and America for the control of continents. This was not why war came to Africa in 1914. The powers did not fight to take territory. Indeed, the most obvious immediate effects were to loosen the holds of empires. Most whites in the colonies feared that the sight of Europeans fighting each other would promote rebellion and resistance. Those fears could only grow as local administrators joined up, and as local forces turned from their policing function to that of confronting an external enemy. But such fears proved exaggerated.