Culture Eritrea

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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Eritrea

Eritrea : Discover the country's culture


Guide to Eritrea, by Edward Paice. 2001)


Eritrea. By Guide Bradt Publications. 2002)


- "Eritrea", "Numey", by Faytinga.
- "Mejemerya Fikri", "Selam", by Tsehaytu Beraki.

Eritrea : Discover the country's history

Historical dates

At the beginning of the Christian era, emigrants from Yemen founded their kingdom, around Aksoum, North of Ethiopia. This Kingdom, christian from the 4th century, spreads to the Red Sea.
In the 7th Century, Islam imposes itself and the Aksoumit populations retreat to the high plateaus where they had established themselves in the first place.
Until the 19th Century, Eritrea and Ethiopia share the same history. Then Italian colonisers take some land from Ethiopia and call it Eritrea (the Red one).
End of the 19th Century, the Christians dominate the high plateaus whilst the Muslims conserve the peripheral plains. In Eritrea, the Muslims represent 45 % of the population, the rest are Christians. The Christian are divided into two groups : the Tigrean (Eritreans and part of the Ethiopians) and the Amharas (in Ethiopia). The latter are the Christian ethnic group that still have the ruling power.
During this period, the old European colonies progressively gain independence. Ethiopia was hoping to regain Eritrea, but the Tigrean fight to obtain independence, torn between the Italian settlers and Ethiopia.
1939. The modern economic infrastructure but also education and literacy, elaborated by the Italians conferred a force to Eritrea.
1947. Italy surrenders Eritrea.
The great powers fight over it : sharing, independence, protectorate ?
1950. Resolution 390. The General Assembly of the United Nations decide of the future of Eritrea : reunited with Ethiopia as a federal union. The Eritrean People therefore exists as a culture, but is not independent. Its institutions, administrations and traditions are to continue and this resolution goes in that sense.
Yet on the ground, Ethiopia takes over : suppression of the Eritrean flag, Ethiopian penal laws, Ethiopian language (Amharic) is officially installed.
1954 and 1956. Eritrea calls on the UN but in vain.
1962. Eritrea is officially the 14th province of Ethiopia, that regains its second access to the sea.
From 1962 till 1993: Civil war. The Muslim Ethiopian are supported by Egypt and Sudan, in the name of Panarabism (Eritrean Liberation Front). In the Seventies a group of secular protestants (FPLE) take over the struggle and recruit Christians. They all fight for the independence of Eritrea, but also to be ahead of the one another. In the Eighties, the FPLE, is the only one left. The war in the name of Islam against a Christian government is conducted by Christians.
1991.The FLPE remove the Ethiopian regime, with the help of the Tigrean Popular Liberation Front (that also opposes the central power), by besieging the two main Ethiopian ports (Assab and Massoua). Meles Zenawi, chief of the Tigrean rebel forces takes power.
1993. Eritrea declares its Independence. Issaļas Afeworki, companion in war of Zenawi, is president.
1994. The constitution gives the right to all Ethiopian nationalities to a cultural identity.
1998. Disagreements and war start off again. The Muslims don't accept the central government. Zenawi and Afeworki use a dispute over the border definitions as an excuse. The real stake is the access to the sea.The Ethiopian taxes to access the Eritrean or Djibouti ports are too expensive, and condemn the economic development of Eritrea. Eritrea continues its economic development, which is accelerated by international aid.
2000. Signature of a ceasefire. The UN plans to send an international peace force on the Eritrean border with Ethiopia, on a 15.5 miles big strip of land .

Eritrea : Stay up to date on the country's holidays and events


January 1st :New Year's Day.
January 7th : Copt celebration- Eid al-Adha - Orthodox Epiphany.
March 8th : Woman's Day.
April : Easter.
May 1st : Labour Day
May 24th : Independence Day.
June 20th : Martyrdom Day.
September 1st : Start of the armed struggle.
September 11th : Ethiopian New Year.
September 27th: Discovery of the True Cross.
December 25th : Christmas.
December 31st : Eid al-Adha.

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