Caught amidst Europe’s Scramble for Africa at the end of the 19th century, Eritrea, with Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland became a part of Italian East Africa. In 1941, the Italians were ousted from the region and Eritrea came under British administration until 1952 when it was made an autonomous entity linked to Ethiopia. Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, however, violated the agreement; his attempt to fully incorporate Eritrea led to a three decade-long war of independence.
Since independence in 1993, Eritrea has continued to be embroiled by conflict, with firstYemen then, once again, Ethiopia. Land disputes with Ethiopia are heightened by Eritrea’s key strategic position along the Red Sea; Eritrea’s separation from Ethiopia left the latter country landlocked. Eritrea’s current president is Isaias Afewerki whose government has drawn international criticism.
As with its literature, Eritrea’s recent history plays an important role in shaping contemporary film and music. Luigi Falorni’s 2008 film Heart of Fire is based on the autobiography of a former Eritrean child soldier tells a heart-rending story of war-ravaged Eritrea. In music, the soul-funk sounds of the Asmara All Stars defy the narrative of conflict and violence that engulfs Eritrea to show the rich cultural heritage of the country.