'Africa for the Africans'!
: How British Imperial Counter-Intelligence Prevented the Threat of Pan-Islamism to the Security of the British Empire in East Africa during the East African Campaign of the First World War

  • Charlotte Catherine Botfield

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The First World War allowed for two sources of Pan-Islamism to mature in East Africa: the German Empire and East Africans and the African diaspora. The former had an incentive to develop Pan-Islamism as an element of the ‘special feature’ policy they were employing to assist in securing victory in the First World War. This was a policy ‘to foster and encourage any movements of unrest and sedition’, including the Pan-Islamic movement, ‘directed against the British Empire’.1 The latter, who, due to the military needs of the European empires, had been forced to converge in East Africa in a manner never previously seen, conversed about Pan-Islamism amongst themselves. Officials of the British Empire identified that Pan-Islamism had manifested itself into two threats: Pan-Islamic unity and the use of the machinery developed by Pan-Islamism by those who advocated for Pan-Africanism. The developing counter-intelligence arm of the British imperial intelligence establishment worked to counter these threats. This development resulted in the institution of the East African Intelligence Centre in 1917. They were successful: to a point. The British Empire in East Africa was not destroyed by Pan-Islamism during the First World War. But they were unable to remove the threat posed by Pan-Islamism from the East African region. In the early Twentieth Century the United Kingdom had revolutionised its intelligence establishment, but it had failed to realise that counter-intelligence in the British Empire had not been accounted for. Consequently, the British Empire was forced to institute a colonial counter-intelligence establishment during the hostilities of the Great War. With little previous work to build upon, the British Empire was faced with a severe shortage in relevant expertise
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorR Gerald Hughes (Supervisor) & James Vaughan (Supervisor)


  • First World War
  • the East African Campaign
  • Africa
  • East Africa
  • Kenya
  • British Empire
  • colonialism
  • Islam
  • Pan-Islam

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