Juma Rakuba Abdalla – 3 King’s African Rifles

Sergeant, 3 King’s African Rifles, No 4215

Juma Rakuba Abdalla was born in Fort Jesus, Ngomeni in Mombasa in 1898. At the age of 80, in 1978, he recorded his history. At the age of 4, in 1903 he started learning in the Islamic Madrassa.


‘father Mzee Rakuba Abdalla left working as an askari, the 3RD Battalion of the Kings African Rifles (KAR) in Kismayu in 1905, after which he travelled to Entebbe, Uganda where he built a house and made it his home.

On 20th January 1914, I was employed in the Armed Forces in the 3rd Battalion of the Kings African Rifles in Nairobi. My number was PTY. 4215.

In August 1914, the First World War broke out between the Germans and the British. The war took a period of four years from 1914 till 1918.

In 1915 war broke out between the British and Germans in Vanga, Tanzania. At that time, we were removing the British Ship which had gotten stuck on Lake Victoria. The ship was named SIBIL. The war spread to Longido and Namanga where I was shot in the leg by German bullets. The war spread further to Taveta, Korogwa, Ruvuma, and Port Mela in Portugal. We were commanded to return to Nairobi, Kenya. The war then ended in 1918.

I served in the following countries during the First World War: Jasin, Majita, Longodo, Nyarangombe, Korogwa, Handeni, Lindi, Banda, Masasi, Ruvuma, Kilwa, Kivinje, Kilwa Kisiwani, Kipata, Daresaalam and Port Mela.

We returned to Kenya when the war ended in 1918. I toured Marsabit, Moyale, Wajir, Isiolo, Barsiloi, Longlani, Kulal, Garbatulla, Gaduduma, and Meru after which I went to Britain to attend the coronation of King George the 6th in 1937. When I returned from Britain, I retired from the army.’

In addition to the account, on 6 May 1935, Juma Rakuba Abdalla was awarded the King’s Silver Jubilee Medal. A Juma Rakuba is recorded as having died in Nairobi on 14 April 1999 – if this is the same man, he would have been 101 years old.

Juma translates to ‘Friday’ from Arabic and Urdu. This suggests that men named Juma were born on a Friday. He was of Sudanese or Nubian origin.

Kenya Gazette 6 May 1935, p399
Translated autobiography: http://www.geocities.ws/nubian_info/The_Kings_African_Rifles.html and http://latasabah.blogspot.com/2009/10/kings-african-rifles-nubian-soldiers.html
Photo of (Retired) Nubi officers of the King’s African Rifles, probably late 1940s. Photo from Kibera in Johan Victor Adriaan de Smedt: The Nubis of Kibera: a social history of the Nubians and Kibera slums (PhD, 2011); https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/17638/Proefschrift%20Johan%20de%20Smedt.pdf

Author: Anne Samson
Date: 16 August 2018

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