I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small by Michela Wrong

By Michela Wrong

Scarred by means of many years of clash and career, the craggy African country of Eritrea has weathered the world's longest-running guerrilla battle. The dogged decision that secured victory opposed to Ethiopia, its great neighbor, is woven into the nationwide psyche, the fabricated from cynical overseas interventions. Fascist Italy sought after Eritrea because the springboard for a brand new, racially natural Roman empire; Britain bought off its for scrap; the us wanted a base for its cutting-edge undercover agent station; and the Soviet Union used it as a pawn in a proxy conflict. In i did not Do It for You, Michela flawed finds the breathtaking abuses this tiny kingdom has suffered and, with a pointy eye for element and a style for the incongruous, tells the tale of colonialism itself and the way foreign strength politics can play havoc with a country's future.

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But as Nell’Affrica Italiana shows, the assumptions of biological determinism that came to form the bedrock of both Fascism and Nazism were present from the first days of the Italian presence in Africa. The thread runs strong and clear through half a century of occupation. If men of Martini’s generation, in contrast with their successors, felt no need to enshrine every aspect of their racial superiority 45 I DIDN’T DO IT FOR YOU in a specific set of laws, it was only because they took their supremacy utterly for granted.

38 THE LAST ITALIAN He had started out as one of the fiercest critics of Italy’s African adventure, arguing that a European nation which had itself only just thrown off the yoke of foreign rule was, in trying to subjugate a foreign people, guilty of the worst kind of hypocrisy. Why invest in Massawa’s infrastructure, when Italy’s poor south itself stood in crying need of development? After the Dogali massacre, Martini stuck his neck out by refusing to hail the slaughtered men as heroes and demanding the immediate recall of Italian troops, on the grounds that remaining in Eritrea was ‘neither the policy of a daring nation nor a wise people’.

When his officers met resistance, they resorted to enthusiastic use of the curbash, a whip made of hippopotamus hide that flayed backs raw. But the Italian public would have remained blithely unaware of the true state of affairs, had it not been for a scandal that exploded in the press in March 1891. Ironically enough, the controversy was triggered by the government of the day. It had grown uneasy at what it was hearing from Massawa, where a formerly trusted Moslem merchant and a tribal chieftain had been sentenced to death for treason.

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