Development and nation-building policies in Eritrea, Africa’s newest state, are founded on a stringent nationalist ideology that impair minority concerns and collective and group rights in the country. The Christian highland population group, the Tigrinya, is dominating government and public affairs, on cost of the diverse Muslim lowland groups. The Tigrinya traditional mode of production (sedentary agriculturalists) is considered to be a developmental model, whereas agro-pastoralism and nomadic traditions, as practiced by some lowland groups, are being restricted by law and policy. Although the Eritrean laws open up for the use of minority languages in primary education, Tigrinya is still the dominating language of instruction. Possibly as a strategy of cultural and political resistance against the “Tigrinyafication” of Eritrean society, Muslim minority groups favour Arabic as a language of instruction in primary schools, in order to build inter-ethnic alliances against the Tigrinya. The current development path of the Eritrean state, will thus sustain the historical marginalization of ethnic minority groups in the country.

Keywords: Minority rights, language rights, pastoralism, discrimination, nationalist ideology, Eritrea, Africa.