poppy-legion-of-british Okay here’s the thing – I’m a Nigerian that has been living in England for just over 5 years now. I recall my first encounter of people wearing poppies was over my regular commute to work back in October 2005. My fascination led me to asking a colleague of mine what wearing a poppy actually signified; she explained poppies were worn in remembrance of the fallen of the First World War (there is a more detailed explanation on the origins of the poppy wearing in the UK here). So I kind of left things there and accepted it as a remembrance largely observed by British people who lost relatives in the First World War. But, over the years, seeing ‘them’ wear poppies has however made me feel excluded and like an outsider.

So I decided to do a little bit of research to find out how many countries fought alongside the British army in WW1. As it turns out, the troops of the British Empire or the British Imperial Forces (as it was called then) constituted of over 75 different countries. According to this article on Wikipedia, the casualties of war were as follows:

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland – 994,138
  • Indian Empire (India, Pakistan & Bangladesh) – 74,187
  • Tanzania (then part of German East Africa) – 20,000
  • South Africa – 9,463
  • Nigeria – 5,000
  • Malawi – 3,000
  • Kenya – 2,000
  • Ghana – 1,200
  • Uganda – 1,500
  • Sierra Leone – 1,000

The pain of the war was not only an English or indigenously British affair but the unifying opinion was that all troops fought well for King and Country.

So my question is in today’s Great Britain, should I as a Nigerian living in Britain honor the fallen of WW1 by wearing a poppy?

I have come to know that the poppy appeal does not only focus on WW1 but all wars since WW1. According to the Poppy Appeal website:

The Royal British Legion is the UK’s leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces, and their dependants.

Personally, I think supporting current & ex-Service men or women is a good enough cause for charity. For that reason I would be wearing a poppy next time around.

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