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Category Archives: Country Post
Uganda shows they have no respect for the LGBT community and are even threatening arrests for those who show support for LGBT pride. The Ethics Minister supports the Colonial penal code that bans gay sex and has also blatantly lied about anti-gay violence. It is hard to progress and advance when these types of laws and people are in places of power.
Prof. Jennifer Piscopo (Occidental College) to speak this Thursday, September 22, on “Legislative Gender Quotas and Feminist Policymaking in Argentina and Mexico.” The talk is in PAC 002 at 4:30 PM.
The colonization of the African countries Nigeria and Eritrea had a major effect on the development of each country’s internal infrastructure. Before colonialism, both Nigeria and Eritrea were two African countries located along the different parts of the African coastline that contained rich histories of beneficial trading with European countries. However, due to their potentially high values for trade and resources, European powers such as Italy and Great Britain immediately took advantage of acquiring dominance in these countries. Although these two countries share similar pre-colonial situations, the different ways in which each country was colonized by their European powers significantly influenced the way in which each country gained its independence as well as each country’s internal politics.
Although Nigeria and Eritrea were both colonized by European powers, there were different reasons behind the colonization of each country as well as different courses of action taken by the European powers colonizing them. In Nigeria, Great Britain greatly focused on establishing trade stations within Nigeria so that they could have access to the valuable palm oil that was prominent along the Niger River that passes directly through Nigeria. Great Britain did this by enacting British anti-slavery policies that freed many slaves from the grasps of other European powers in the region as well as strategically allowing for there to be “indirect rule” within the country, which allowed for traditional leaders to continue in power while owing allegiance to the colonial authority. This course of action would proceed for the next 40 years while Great Britain concurrently would split the country of Nigeria into three separate regions (North, East, and West) until the later 1950s when Nigeria gradually achieved its own political infrastructure with the creation of a federal prime minister and the Northern, Western and Eastern regions being granted internal self-government. By 1960, Nigeria would gain its full independence. However, due to Great Britain’s initial separation of Nigeria into separate regions, this would cause great internal conflict within the country and eventually lead to a bitter and intense civil war that is the first post-independence African war to receive widespread coverage.
In Eritrea, however, Italy would have much different intentions for colonizing as intended to strategically use Eritrea in order to invade Ethiopia. After failed attempts to colonize Ethiopia, Italy shifted its focus and had more administrative involvement in the country as Italian would segregate the educational systems within between Italians and Eritreans, preventing the Eritreans from a proper education that would allow them to grow and develop their own native country. This sort of apartheid that was established by the Italians would force Eritreans to rely on other colonial powers to help them eventually gain their own independence. Once Great Britain eventually dismantled Italy’s rule in Eritrea, it would still take Eritreans thirty years (1991) to gain their own independence due to the hostility between the Eritreans and their neighboring country of Ethiopia who had previously annexed them in 1961.
Ultimately, the different ways in which European powers initially controlled these Nigeria and Eritrea would greatly affected the ways in which these two similar countries would gain their independence.
The Suez Canal was created in the late 1800’s, and allowed the European international trading economy to explore beyond the Red Sea and into the various ports along the Indian Ocean. This particular geographic factor becomes the primary motivator for how European colonization of both the Republic of Somalia and Eritrea affect the regions current political and foreign relations. In an effort to secure the economic benefits of these port nations the foreign powers were highly aggressive in their acquisition of land and how control was maintained. The methods employed often stifled the development of local institutions for governance and fragmented the local structures that were already in place. These colonization tactics largely employed by the British, French and Italians left these East African countries unable to create legitimate or authoritative power after their departure. While the results from their shared colonial legacy are similar, the methodology in which it occurred is different between Eritrea and Somalia.
Pre-colonial Somalia existed as a rather homogenous collection of a single ethnic group that had the normal divisions of various clans and rival powers. The large Arabic and Persian presence that was result of its trading history also heavily influenced it. The general land was arid, with the interior population living separate existences from the coastline population groups. The lack of a single governing institution allowed for European domination to be rather swift and subsequent fragmentations into French, Italian and British domains rather simple. As suggested by Nunn the lack of a significant pre-colonial force made the colonial institution that much more destructive. The important difference between the Eritrea and Somalia was the particular severe fragmentation of Somalia. In the case of Eritrea they were more dominantly influenced by the Italian occupiers and adopted a large part of the foreign culture. In the case of Somalia however their current political system is largely an attempt to recover from the split amongst four separate vying powers (Ethiopia, Britain, French, and Italy). This split presently causes regional conflict between local governance and ethnic clans. Due to unification being their most pressing goal, foreign relations has often been on the back burner of situations in which in many instances they have maintained neutrality.
Pre-colonial Eritrea was definitely more unified in comparison to Somalia despite its nine ethnic groups, because of a shared antagonism towards neighboring Ethiopia. The land was also arid and agriculturally challenging, enough so that the Italians entertained the idea of it being a penal colony rather than a breadbasket nation to feed the masses. Italian occupation of Eritrea however imposed more of a racial hierarchical system, which heavily influenced local governance with that of Italian fascism. This system was not much unlike South-African apartheid, a social reality that Eritrean citizens came to truly resent. This particular legacy has lead to the current autocratic governments seen currently within the nation.
Somalia is definitely a microcosm for the disastrous effects of colonialism in which borders were just arbitrarily drawn. These two countries along the Horn of Africa subsist in the current failed states because of the legacy of harsh colonial rule that ended abruptly, leaving a vacuum of power. In these particular cases foreign aid and intervention seem like unlikely solutions, to a greater systematic issue that must be solved by civil revolution.
Egypt’s colonial history has certain parallels with Eritrea’s, but ultimately was far less violent, traumatic, or long lasting. The violent occupation by Italian forces of Eritrea and the ensuing apartheid government they established left physical, psychological and economic scars on the country. Egypt’s colonization was largely peaceful on the other hand. Egypt was colonized through a form of economic conquest and was not controlled nearly as stringently as Eritrea.
Egypt had spent a vast portion of its national treasury on the construction of the Suez Canal, finished in 1869. This remarkable engineering feat encouraged large amounts of trade for the region, but had left the Egyptian government bankrupt. The government had borrowed most of the money needed for the canal’s construction from European banks. In order to pay off its debt Egypt sold its share of the canal to the British. The British quickly became the effective rulers of Egypt as they manipulated the country’s politics through their control of the canal and the European banks who still held bonds of debt issued by the Egyptian government. This economic occupation meant that the British’s limited military presence in Egypt did not lead to mass scale violence. The only incident of organized military conflict occurred at the battle of Tel El Kebir in 1882 in response to a popular Egyptian independence uprising.
British occupation of Egypt was very limited compared to the Italian conquest of Eritrea. The British did not even officially declare any degree of sovereignty in Egypt until 1914, when the outbreak of WWI compelled them to declare that Egypt was a protectorate of the British Empire. Even this limited form of official control ended quickly. By 1922 uprisings in Egypt led to the British making a unilateral declaration of Egyptian independence (though British control of the canal would not end until 1956).
Impactful British influence was very limited in Egypt compared to Eritrea in large part because the British did not view Egypt as a new frontier for settlement, but instead focused on extracting economic value from it. The British certainly had a presence in Egypt but it was small in terms of actual people and was primarily limited to a few large cities, namely Alexandria. The Italians sought to establish a whole new Italian society in Eritrea, leading them to focus on clearing the land of its native people to make space for its own citizens. Because they felt a need to control Eritrean society, the Italians took a very active and often violent role in shaping how natives fit into their new structure. The British never imposed a system of apartheid because it would have been counterproductive to their goals, as they were dependent upon the cooperation of the Egyptian people. It was the Italian’s focus on settlement rather than economic exploitation that led to their fraught and traumatic relationship with the native population.
Eritrea and Guinea are similar in many ways. One of such ways is that they are both composed of several ethnic groups defined along linguistic and religious ties: Islam is one of the major religions–although in Guinea a more significant portion (3/4) of the population adheres to the religion–and ethnic languages more or less correspond to different regions within the two countries. Moreover, the populations that make up present-day Eritrea and Guinea have a rich history of trading with foreigners, especially along the coastlines. Nevertheless, these same similarities, which characterize some of the persistent legacies of the Eritrea and Guinea’s precolonial past that were subsequently embedded in the fabric of their colonial history, can help explain the vastly different experiences of the countries from the mid 20th century until well into the present day. In relation to the different colonial power that dominated Eritrea and Guinea, the heterogeneous aspect of these experiences, such as the extent of the rule of the colonial power, ultimately played an instrumental role in shaping each country’s internal politics and international relations.
The area of present-day Guinea is populated by several groups of people that were constituents of different kingdoms such as the Susu, Baga, Nalu and Malinke, with the former belonging to the once prominent Mali Empire. This pluralistic aspect can be ascribed to the fact that much of the state’s boundaries were defined during colonial rule. Soon after Guinea became a French colony in 1890 and was incorporated into the Federation of French West Africa, a series of treaties with Great Britain, Portugal and Liberia helped demarcate the country’s territory. Coincidentally in the same year, Eritrea officially became an Italian colony a few months after Melinek II of Ethiopia signed the Treaty of Wichale, recognizing Italian possessions in the Red Sea.
Although the two countries became the dominions of two powerful colonial powers, there were variations in the underlying motives behind colonial rule for each of the powers. While France focused more on extracting resources in Guinea, evident in the significant increase in the scale of the slave trade during French rule, the Italians intended to strategically use Eritrea in order to invade Ethiopia. After failed attempts to colonize Ethiopia, Italy shifted its focus and had more administrative involvement in the country. On the other hand, France had a more indirect involvement in Guinea; the governor in charge of the colony’s administration was located in Dakar, Senegal.
The differences in administration between the two colonial powers had several effects on each country. Guinea was able to gain its independence through a referendum but the failure of the French to have a centralized authority in the country during the colonial era exacerbated ethnic tensions once they left. Guinea has faced multiple coups and ethnic conflicts since it gained independence in 1958. On the other hand, Eritrea endured several decades of violence to gain its independence from Ethiopia once the Allied powers dismantled Italy’s dominion in Africa. Nevertheless, there is greater sense of nationalism amongst Eritreans, where Muslims and Christians allied in the 70’s to oust Ethiopia and gain their independence.
In “I Didn’t Do It For You,” the Eritrean’s post-colonial attitudes stood out. Michela Wrong states, “every country which experiences colonialism is defined by how it digests humiliation.” (Wrong, 77) Unlike Eritreans, most Kenyans have an inferiority complex towards white people which has influenced their functionality in global politics and also enabled neocolonialism. Eritrea and Kenya also had different colonizers and hence exhibit different relationships with them, for instance, Kenya was colonized by the British who continue to influence the country’s internal affairs.
In “Our Turn To Eat,” by Michela Wrong, she discussed the preferential treatment accorded to foreigners working as expatriates in Kenya. She gives an example of the luxurious housing provided to diplomats to cement this claim. While in “I Didn’t Do It For You,” she discussed the normal way in which she was treated by Eritreans. This stems from how the different countries dealt with their humiliation from being colonized. Eritreans suffered brutal colonial treatment especially under the fascist rule during Mussolini’s reign, hence the resentment, which led to “quietism” (Wrong, 77). Furthermore, Eritrea was passed over from power to power in a series of wars and defeats. Kenya on the other hand was colonized entirely by the British from 1895 when it became a protectorate, 1920 when it was declared a colony, and finally to 1963 when it gained its independence. Kenyans processed the mix of direct rule and indirect rule with a feeling of inferiority since they only saw white people at official capacities for instance in the administration, so they learned to regard power with whiteness. This inferiority complex is manifested in the way most Kenyans treat or behave around white people, neocolonial attitudes such as giving the highest paying jobs to white people even when there are qualified black Kenyans or contracting foreign companies instead of local ones that can do the same jobs. This has led to a presence of multinationals in the Kenyan market which speaks to Kenya’s international relations. For instance, the Anglo leasing scandal companies were mainly based in Britain, which shows the easy way in which British companies are given priority in trade deals.
Kenya continues to have a working relationship with Britain. For example, “the British army has a perpetual in-country training program for its soldiers” (McConnell) in Kenya. Even with the rising corruption in Kenyan politics, the British continue to provide foreign aid to Kenya even when they know the funds go to graft and this can be illustrated by Wrong’s unpacking of the continued funding by the British government despite the Anglo leasing scandal. While there is a continued presence of the British and their involvement in Kenya, there is almost a non-existent presence of Italians in Eritrea, which if present is not as robust (the last Italian). This can be explained by the colonial legacy of the Italians. The Italians didn’t invest much in Eritrea as the British did in Kenya and so there is a certain shame and lack of legitimacy that comes with that, which explains the lack of a working relationship between Eritrea and Italy, and translating to Eritrea’s relationship with the globe. Kenya’s ability to connect with Britain, for instance as a commonwealth country, has enabled her to form other global connections such as the U.S.
Michela Wrong’s, I Didn’t Do It For You
Michela Wrong, Its Our Turn To Eat
Kenyan Voice, https://kenyanvoice.com/2013/06/11/racism-is-very-high-in-kenya-and-africa/
Washington State Spring Posts, https://history105.libraries.wsu.edu/spring2015/2015/01/19/british-rule-in-kenya/
Tristan McConnell, Global Post, http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-03-25/how-kenya-took-international-criminal-court
Although having had different pre-colonial institutions, and vastly different colonial experiences, both Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo have undergone severe periods on instability over the past century. Although both are slowly recovering, it seems that their colonial legacies continue to haunt them.
Before European expansion, what is now the DRC was essentially the Kingdom of Kongo. The state was highly centralized, and conducted diplomatic relations around Africa, and with European States, with Kongo representatives even acting as intermediaries in the slave trade. (BBC) Thus, although unproductive in that its agents acted as slave trade intermediaries, the pre-colonial structures of the Kingdom of Kongo can be understood to have influenced the post-colonial structures of the DRC. Eritrea on the other hand, looks vastly different in its post-colonial situation, than it did pre-colonization. Specifically, because of forced integration into the Ethiopian state, primarily because of British and later U.S. interests, the political and state structures in place today are unable to be reconciled with the structures existing pre-colonization.
The colonial experiences of the two nations are where they really differ however. While Eritrea has a complex history of colonialism, including rule by Italy, Great Britain, and incorporation into Ethiopia, the DRC’s history was relatively simple, although exceedingly brutal. As European states divided the continent, King Leopold II of Belgium seized the area for himself, establishing the Congo Free State, which he essentially used as a personal cash cow. Immediately, Leopold II moved into purely extractive colonialism, harvesting primarily rubber. Amidst outcries against claims of violence and torture throughout the Congo Free State, the Belgian government took control in 1908, but failed to implement stable infrastructure, political and otherwise in the region.
Eritrea’s colonial history differed in that the colonialism practiced, at least initially by Italy was not purely extractive, but settler in nature. Italy took interest in promoting industry and infrastructure, and educational/societal structures in Eritrea. Although the British destroyed or did away with most of these structures, it is the legacy of the institutions that is important. Whereas Eritrea had structures which allowed for comprehensive education, the Belgian Congo did not.
Belgian interest in what is now the DRC was based only on its natural resources, and very few Belgians actually lived there. Administration was poor, and plans for granting the Belgian Congo independence were neither thorough nor comprehensive. This is why we see differences in the political structures of Eritrea and the DRC today. Although neither can be considered extremely, it seems that Eritrea is slightly more so, even though it is perhaps more authoritarian. This is perhaps due to the fact that primary power struggles in the post-colonial period have been between Eritrea and Ethiopia, whereas in the DRC, there has been significant infighting.
Finally, it is important to note that both nations share a legacy of post-colonial meddling by former colonial powers. The United States and Great Britain have interest in Eritrea, due to military concerns in the region, and economic arrangements with Ethipoia. On the other hand, the West, particularly the United States has interest in the DRC due to its natural resources, and even went so far as to allegedly be complicit in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the DRC’s first democratically elected prime minister, in order to install a more West-friendly leader.
I Didn’t Do It For You – Michela Wrong
“Democratic Republic of Congo Profile – Timeline” – BBC
CIA World Factbook
Eritrea is highly unique in its story as a modern-nation state in Africa: it remained a colony for far longer than many of its neighbors, but also experienced intermittent fits of success and progress at a more frequent rate throughout the 20th century. The nation’s three major colonial periods—under Italy, Britain, and Ethiopia, —synthesized to create a combination of gains (the very articulation of an Eritrean nation and developed physical infrastructure) and consequences (the collapse of stable government). Conversely, the Central African Republic (C.A.R) is the prototype of a French colony in Africa, characterized by largely artificial borders, amalgam ethnic groups, and a lack of institutional structure during the colonial period. Today, it is the image of a “failed state”, making headlines with tragedies from an inability to contain a cholera epidemic (still raging, as I write) to the proliferation of blood diamond companies throughout its dense, Southern forests. Though, today, both the C.A.R and Eritrea are poor, reliant on foreign aid and rife with human rights infractions, the colonial and pre-colonial groundwork that lead to each country’s current status are highly distinct.
Before French colonization of what is now the C.A.R in the late 19th century, the region was a zone of refuge: disparate ethnic groups (primarily the Baya-Mandja, the Banda, the Nzakara and the Azande) fleeing slave trade from surrounding central African territories settled in the arid landscape. The people within modern-day Eritrea, on the other hand, have a long, collective geographic history. The strip of land was a sub-province of the early kingdom of Ethiopia and, when the Turkish Empire conquered Ethiopia, Eritrea retained its distinct regional, indigenous character. Though the concept of nationhood didn’t take hold in either C.A.R or Eritrea until it was grafted, anti-colonially, from the European model, the lack of historical connection between the people of the C.A.R is a major contributor to the country’s strife today. The C.A.R’s 56 years of independence are marred by conflicts divided by regional origin religious affiliation, with a civil war of the Seleka rebels against the sitting Christian government still in the process of complete resolution.
While the C.A.R’s cycles of conflict can be attributed to three classical byproducts of French colonization (drawn borders, no history of shared society between citizenry, and an abrupt withdrawal without investment or reparations), Eritrea’s fatal experience is harder to pinpoint. The Italians built major infrastructure, and though the British stole much of it for the crown’s other colonies, the independent Eritrea of 1993 looked to be economically sound after many years of semi-autonomy under Ethiopia.
And yet, the subtext of the above sentence is telling: Eritrea’s experience as “a unit federated under the Ethiopian Crown” dictated a limbo character—responsible for its own economic thriving, but void of agency over running the state. The next thirty years of struggle for full independence never included a real reckoning with how the country would run itself once free of Ethiopian (and Soviet, and British, and Italian) rule. It is no surprise that a nation that knew no existence other than defining its nationality by being against an occupying power fell into the trap of full-fledged conflict at the slightest skirmish with Ethiopia in 1998. Eritrea’s enigmatic colonial experience, particularly the drawn-out Ethiopian relationship, created its particular struggle with full-fledged independence: an inability to govern despite having the resources and shared-history that lead to post-colonial success in other former colonies. C.A.R, on the other hand, was doomed from France’s exit, having had none of the variables necessary for independent state building.
Michela Wrong, I Didn’t Do It For You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation.
The BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13150044)
DW Academie (http://www.dw.com/en/germany-and-eritrea-defending-human-rights-or-curbing-migration/a-19532224)
Discover France (http://www.discoverfrance.net/Colonies/Centr_Afr_Rep.shtml)