Selected Term Paper No. 7 / September 2004
Nationalismus in Eritrea.
Von der treibenden Kraft der Dekolonisation zum Entwicklungshemmnis

Amien Idries


This paper analyses the role of nationalism in Eritrea. This country at the horn of Africa developed a national identity over the period spanning the Italian colonial age, the time as a British protectorate, and especially during the 30 year struggle for independence from Ethiopa which led to the creation of a nation state in 1993. This nationalism exerts a strong cohesive force integrating the country, and even transcending ethnicity and religion. In view of the problems other decolonization movements in Africa had with creating national identity, two central questions are the focus of this research:
  1. Does Eritrean nationalism represent a special case in Africa due to its late decolonisation, which facilitates the establishment of a national state?
  2. How does this particular Eritrean nationalism affect the policy of the present government?
It will be demonstrated, that in Eritrea - in contrast to the remainder of Africa - a `nation without state´ has grown. Here, nationalism played an exceptional role during the acquisition of independence and establishment of the sovereignty of the State of Eritrea. Furthermore, it will be shown that nowadays this kind of nationalism is the main obstacle in the consolidation of a constituional state. The Eritrean government runs the risk of destroying the foundations by which Eritrea gained its independence.