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Pockets Full of Rupees, but Bodies Very Weak:
the Carrier Corps and their Demobilization at the end of
WWI in East Africa

Karin Pallaver

Codice Doi

Published online on 2020/10/19

This article investigates how wages and benefits were paid to East African military carriers
at the end of the First World War. One of the aspects of post-war demobilization that has
not yet been studied is the enormous difficulties that the colonial powers encountered
in paying off soldiers and carriers at the end of the war, owing to the lack of currency. To
resolve this situation, the British authorities in Kenya resorted to introducing one-rupee
paper notes issued exclusively for the payment of carriers. After a few years, however,
these notes were suddenly demonetized with no compensation. This article situates the
history of the introduction and demonetization of one-rupee notes in the framework of
the recruitment and demobilization of African carriers. In so doing, it aims to provide
new elements for the understanding of the experience of East African carriers and the
complexities of the process of demobilization after the war.
Keywords: porters; currency; rupee; banknotes; Kenya