An African Studies Program monograph leads British journalist on an intercontinental documentary project

While researching the little-known history of “the Burma boys,” West African soldiers who fought in today’s Myanmar for the British during World War II, Barnaby Phillips, a correspondent for Al Jazeera and former BBC reporter, discovered an African Studies Program monograph in London’s Imperial War Museum. The monograph, “A Stroke of Unbelievable Luck,” edited by University of London historian David Killingray, details the experiences of Isaac Fadoyebo, a Nigerian who was badly wounded in a Burmese jungle and survived thanks to the courageous care of a local man and his family. Phillips finds Mr. Fadoyebo, an octogenarian living in Lagos, Nigeria, and through careful interviews puts together a story that brings in perspectives from scholars, British and Japanese veterans, and members of the family in Myanmar who saved Mr. Fadoyebo’s life. The project was very timely, for Mr. Fadoyebo passed away in November, 2012. Phillips’ award-winning film “Burma Boy” first aired in 2011 and recently screened at Film Africa, the UK’s largest annual festival of African cinema.

Watch “Burma Boy”

Purchase Isaac Fadoyebo’s memoir, “A Stroke of Unbelievable Luck”

Learn more about Barnaby Phillips

Isaac Fadoyebo’s obituary in The Guardian