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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

World War II significantly affected the development of disability programs in British West Africa during the late colonial period. Beginning in the early 1940s, Britain’s Colonial Office worked with the West African governors to develop rehabilitation programs for disabled African veterans. In Britain, rehabilitation for disabled veterans took the form of social orthopedics, which equated citizenship with the ability to work; British programs therefore prioritized reintegration into the workforce as the main goal of rehabilitation. The colonial programs attempted to transfer the social orthopedics program to Africa. The project failed because the African veterans did not want to be remade into productive workers on the Western/capitalist model. However, it did produce two lasting legacies: the creation of a network of Disabled People’s Organizations during the 1950s and 1960s, and the development of a successful onchocerciasis control program between 1974 and 2002.

Keywords: war, colonialism, veterans, rehabilitation, Britain, West Africa, social orthopedics, masculinity, delinquency, blindness

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