Review from ROAPE Volume 25 Number 75
Ethiopia and Eritrea: Federal Experience (Negash)
The fact that myth is of the essence in nationalism would come as a surprise to few these days. The fact that nationalism in Africa is no exception would surprise no one. A good case in point is Eritrean nationalism, which the author of this volume sets out to deconstruct and de-mystify. In their long struggle against Ethiopian rule, Eritrean nationalists sought legitimacy and support by invoking the recognized right of colonized peoples to self determination. Eritrea, it was claimed, had passed from Italian colonial rule, via a decade of British administration, to Ethiopian imperial rule, without its people ever being consulted. The two decades (1940s-1960s), when the Eritreans themselves were involved in a hard fought political contest over the future of their country, are glossed over in nationalist historiography as the time when the Eritrean nation was struggling to assert its identity. In the crudest versions, the roots of this identity are traced far into the past, ample historical evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.