This highly readable history of modern Eritrea begins with Italy’s colonization in 1890. The plucky Eritreans overcame both Italian and British rule, U.N. neglect, and Ethiopian invasion to gain independence in 1993, but a violent 1998 border conflict with Ethiopia plunged them back into misfortune. The book ends in 2003 with Eritrean President Isaias’s repressive regime.
Country Focus: Eritrea (Ertra in Tingrinya)
I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation
By Michela Wrong
Originally published in Great Britain by Fourth Estate, 2005
My edition: Harper Perennial, 2006
About the author: Wrong, a British journalist, has also written In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobuto’s Congo, and It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-blower.
But it is for his stance on education that Martini is chiefly resented by Eritreans today. The former education minister violently rejected — “No, no and once again, no” — any notion of mixed-race schooling. His justification was characteristically quixotic, the opposite of what one might expect from a man who had embraced the credo of racial superiority. “In my view, the blacks are more quick-witted than us,” he remarked, noticing how swiftly Eritrean pupils picked up foreign languages. This posed a problem at school, he said, where “the white man’s superiority, the basis of every colonial regime, is undermined.” No mixed-race schooling meant there would be no opportunity for bright young Eritreans to form subversive views on their dim future masters. “Let us avoid making comparisons.” The natives must be kept in their place, taught only what they need to fulfill the subservient roles for which Rome thought them best suited.