chapter  5
Africans in the white man’s wars, 1914–1945
Pages 33

Six-year-old Ojebeta heard the drums sound a warning for her village in Ibuza in the interior of southeastern Nigeria. “There is a kind of death coming from across the salty waters,” the gongman announced. “It is now coming to us. They call it Felenza. It is white man’s death.” Rumors about its sudden appearance circulated throughout the area – the British “were at war with their neighbors ‘the Germanis’; and the latter fought the British by blowing poisonous gas into the air. When you breathed it in, you died.” None of the villagers understood what any of that had to do with them; all they could do was watch helplessly as person after person fell victim to the disease.