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Rosanna Amaka Is Bringing The Women Of Colonial Nigeria To The Forefront In Her Fiction

As quiet as it’s kept, just under one and half million African soldiers fought for Britain in World War 2. It should go without saying, but Britain would not have won the war without these men who were often treated as second class citizens, even as their blood ran as red as their white counterparts on the battlefield.

But this was a history that was hidden as far as Rosanna Amaka was concerned, growing up as the child of Nigerian and Jamaican parents in South London.

“When I was growing up in this country, part of the racial abuse that I received was, ‘Oh, we fought in the wars!’ And I had a total ignorance of the part that many, many, many, many African soldiers played in the war,” Rosanna remembers.

It was while watching an old war film with her grandmother one day, that she jokingly asked if anyone from her grandmother’s village went to war. When her grandmother confirmed that boys from her village had in fact been conscripted, the seed for her second novel, Rose and the Burma Sky was planted.

Rose and the Burma Sky begins in 1939, in a small village in South Eastern Nigeria. Obi is a young man who is tempted to join the colonial army by the promise of regular wages and an elevated status that might impress the family of his childhood love, Rose.