Weekend Watch: The Burma Boy

This weekend, checkout The Burma Boy, a 45-minute documentary from Al Jazeera on Nigerian soldiers who fought in the Burmese campaign of WWII.

Many African soldiers fought in WWII, and the subject is almost as forgotten as it is fascinating and perplexing, with all of its juxtapositions: fighting with (for?) imperialists against imperialists, fighting for the empire while simultaneously excluded from it, and the mixed and varied reactions at home, etc.  (here’s two interesting takes:  the Washington Post in the Congo; and the BBC in mostly East Africa, both examining some of the dynamics of African soldiers in WWII).  We’ve followed film that deals with African soldiers fighting for colonialists before (see Indochina: Traces of a Mother).

The Burma Boy is available on YouTube (posted by Al Jazeera) in its entirety, as Barnaby Phillips searches for, and finds (that’s not a spoiler) Isaac Fadoyebo, who fought in Burma.  Phillips’ central role can be a bit off-putting, and the film is sprinkled with standard tropes (the ‘difficult and frustrating’ aspects of Lagos are offset by the respect and courteousness of people; we see Fadoyebo voting and expressing his ever present ‘faith in a better future’ in spite of horrible ‘religious and ethnic’ conflict), but the story, along with photos, footage, and interviews that come with it, are worth a watch:

About BFC/A

The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people. The BFC/A's primary objectives are to promote scholarship on black film and to serve as an open resource for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public; to encourage creative film activity by independent black filmmakers; and to undertake and support research on the history, impact, theory, and aesthetics of black film traditions. View all posts by BFC/A

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