To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, join Al Jazeera journalist Barnaby Phillips for a fascinating talk on his critically acclaimed book Another Man’s War: The Story of a Burma Boy in Britain’s Forgotten African Army.
For the British, the longest land campaign of World War II began in December 1941 when the Japanese invaded Malaya and Burma. The British soldiers who fought in Asia referred to themselves as ‘the Forgotten Army’ but of all the men who fought the Japanese, perhaps none are as forgotten as the 100,000 African soldiers. They were taken from Britain’s colonies to fight in the Burmese jungles. Isaac Fadoyebo was one of these ‘Burma Boys’. At the age of 16 he ran away from his Nigerian village and joined the British Army. In Burma he was attacked and left for dead by the Japanese. Sheltered by courageous local rice farmers, Isaac spent nine months in hiding before his eventual rescue. He returned to Nigeria a hero, but his story was soon forgotten.
Phillips travelled to Nigeria and Burma in search of Isaac, the family that saved him, and the legacy of an Empire. Through Isaac’s tale Phillips presents a bigger picture, asking about the lives and fates of these African soldiers. What did they make of Burma? How did their experiences change them and the colonies to which they returned? He discovered that the villagers who rescued Isaac belong to a besieged Muslim minority in a region of Burma still haunted by atrocities committed during World War II.
Another Man’s War was based on Phillips’ documentary Burma Boy, which won the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. The Daily Telegraph gave the book a 5 star review, describing it as ‘profoundly moving’ and selecting it as one of the ‘Best History Books of 2014′. The Spectator said it was ‘An extraordinary story…very well told’. The TLS called it ‘impressive’, while the Mail on Sunday selected it as their paperback of the week in June 2015.
Join us at Asia House to find out more about these Burma Boys.