« | Home | »

In Asmara

Tags: | |

LRB Eritrea 1

Unesco is currently evaluating Asmara’s bid to be made a World Heritage site. The Eritrean capital’s argument is strong. It lays claim to some of the finest Futurist architecture on earth, built during the period of Italian colonial rule. Many of these buildings – and Asmara’s infrastructure more generally – are threatened by neglect, a resource-poor economy, and the effects of time.

World Heritage status would bring positive attention to a country in need of good press. Western media coverage of Eritrea tends to be flatly negative, sometimes for good reason. The government’s provocative foreign policy hasn’t done the country any favours on the international stage, while its domestic programme of forced conscription raises concerns with human rights organisations and the United Nations. Some, citing the stories of refugees and expats, have labelled Eritrea the ‘North Korea of Africa’, a description at once silly and unfair. Yet no one doubts the harshness of the regime.

Rare positive coverage centres on the capital. Its modernist gems – slightly worn, sometimes abandoned – are remarkable. The Fiat Tagliero, a flamboyant old service station on the main road into town, receives more attention from foreigners than other buildings in Asmara, though it is just one of many remarkable sites. Elegant movie houses, apartment buildings and government offices can be found throughout the downtown area and off the beaten track in other parts of the city. Despite the hardships faced by Eritreans, the markets are busy, and the cafés do a brisk trade.

Comments

  1. Stu Bry says:

    “while its domestic programme of forced conscription raises concerns with human rights organisations and the United Nations”

    That’s quite the understatement.

    https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/eritrea#e9af5a


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Timothy Rogers on Fifa v. the FBI: What stake the US has in the ongoing tragicomedy of the FiFa World-Cup selection process is unclear. There is still no mass market for the sport in t...
    • Timothy Rogers on One Cubit the More: Yes, the talk (or essay) was a deliberative, thoughtful one. The cubit is used as a quantitative measure to indicate the amount of scientific knowled...
    • AndrewL on One Cubit the More: Thank you for the link, Timothy. I must admit, I had naively assumed it would be a "shoulders of giants" talk too, but it is so much better than that...
    • Timothy Rogers on One Cubit the More: Here is the link to the talk, which was published in the August 1963 issue of Encounter. It is really about intellectual modesty and clarity about ou...
    • AndrewL on One Cubit the More: In case anyone else is looking for the original Bible verse, as I was, I think it is Matthew 6:27: "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit t...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement
Advertisement