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Political history of the Afar in Ethiopia and Eritrea


  • Yasin Mohammed Yasin


Like in many parts of Africa, the colonial map-making has left its deep-seated mark on the political features of present-day states in the Horn of Africa. As the making of the boundaries was entirely based on the vested interest of European expansionists that absolutely ignored the ethnic make-up of societies, similar ethno-linguistic groups were cut up to two or more adjacent states. These divisions, that gravely challenged the traditional administrative as well as socio-economic systems further fuelled conflicts in the Horn region. Among many cases of such tragic partitions, the land of the homogenous nomadic nation of Afar was divided among three states in the African Horn, namely Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Subsequent to their anti-colonial resistance, the Afar have faced further intrastate divisions and marginalization enforced by the central powers in the respective states. Their half-a-century old quest of and struggle for self-determination was regarded as paving the way to an independent state. Is creating a nation called Afarria or else the Afar Triangle the ultimate goal of the Afar political movements? What does unity and self-determination mean for the Afar? This paper will discuss the inception of the modern political orientation of the Afar and their struggle from the era of European colonialism to the time of domestic domination.

Suggested Citation

  • Yasin Mohammed Yasin, 2008. "Political history of the Afar in Ethiopia and Eritrea," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 43(1), pages 39-66.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:43:y:2008:i:1:p:39-66

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gero Erdmann, 2007. "The Cleavage Model, Ethnicity and Voter Alignment in Africa: Conceptual and Methodological Problems Revisited," GIGA Working Paper Series 63, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    2. Mkandawire, Thandika, 2013. "Neopatrimonialism and the political economy of Economic Permormance in Africa: Critical Reflections," Arbetsrapport 2013:1, Institute for Futures Studies.
    3. Gero Erdmann, 1999. "Parteien in Afrika. Versuch eines Neuanfangs in der Parteienforschung," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 34(3), pages 375-393.
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