Eritrea: North Korea in Africa? You Decide…

Though Eritrea may have an ancient history, as a modern country they’ve only been independent since MY BIRTHDAY, 1993, and that only after a long hard war fought with neighboring Ethiopia, its big brother and modern nemesis…

Before that, the Italians were here, and ironically enough, that seems to be part of Eritrea’s claim of separateness from Ethiopia, that they were more Italian, so distinct. Because when the Italian colonies were liberated in WWII, the conflict with Ethiopia was necessary to ensure final freedom for the new nation…

It’s amazing how a genre of music can sound so different from anything else, yet sound so self-similar, almost as if it’s all one long big song. Seven-eight minute songs are the norm, too, so that’s no insult, not really. But the one other country whose music does sound similar, of course, is that of Ethiopia, of which Eritrea once formed a part, physically, and with it still forms something of a continuum, culturally. Only the percentages of component parts–mostly languages–are different, Eritrea being mostly Tigrinya, while Ethiopia is mostly Amharic…

Since independence life has not been easy for Eritrea, president-for-life Isaias Afewerki’s government one of the worst in the world, in terms of human rights, and a ‘national service’ requirement that would make Kim Jong-un blush, virtually slavery, so the stories go, though there is a large segment of the population still intensely loyal, while others head to the borders of Europe, to wait in line with other disadvantaged migrants. I liked Ethiopia, though, and didn’t have the chance to fumble my way through in bad Italian. So Eritrea’s on my list…

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