Vincenzo Di Meglio
Vincenzo Di Meglio was an Italian doctor who worked in the Africa Orientale Italiana in the late thirties and during World War II, and an Italian Eritrean politician who saved Eritrea from being divided in 1947 between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Di Meglio was born on the island of Ischia (near Naples, Italy) in April 1903. As a young man he participated in politics and became mayor of his hometown in the twenties. He graduated as a medical doctor and in 1935 moved to the Italian colonies in East Africa, where he worked as a general practitioner, initially helping the poorest Africans.
After the war he was named Director of the "Commitato Rappresentativo Italiani dell' Eritrea" (CRIE). In 1947 supported the creation of the "Associazione Italo-Eritrei" and the "Associazione Veterani Ascari", in order to get alliance with the Eritreans favorable to Italy in Eritrea.
As a result of these creations, he cofounded the "Partito Eritrea Pro Italia" (Party of Shara Italy) in September 1947, an Eritrean political Party favorable to the Italian presence in Eritrea that obtained more than 200,000 inscriptions of membership in one single month.
Indeed the Italian Eritreans strongly rejected the Ethiopian annexation of Eritrea after the war: the Party of Shara Italy was established in Asmara in 1947 and the majority of its members were former Italian soldiers with many Eritrean Ascari (the organization was even backed up by the government of Italy). The main objective of this party was Eritrea freedom but they had a pre-condition that stated that, before independence, the country should be governed by Italy for at least 15 years (like happened with Italian Somalia).
In 1951 Dr. Di Meglio moved to Saudi Arabia due to problems with the British authorities when he was forced to close the main Italian political organization of Eritrea called CRIE.
After a brief return to Eritrea as Director of Gynecology of a hospital, in 1961 Di Meglio returned to Italy where died in March 1987.
Vincenzo married Caterina Scotti, His daughter born in 1935 is Rita Di Meglio who lived in Asmara and Massaua Eritrea for quite sometime. She still lives at Villa Caterina the family home in Ischia, and in Rome Italy.
Vincenzo Di Meglio was appointed Director of the C.R.I.E (Comitato Rappresentativo degli Italiani dell’Eritrea), the main organization of the Italians in Eritrea during the British rule after 1941.
He was friend of Eritrean politicians, like Woldeab Woldemariam and Abdel Kader Kebir, who promoted the independence of Eritrea during the British occupation. As a consequence he suffered some murderous attacks from the so-called Scifta terrorists, but survived without harm.
Dr. Di Meglio was one of the main authorities in Eritrea who opposed the British tentative to divide Eritrea between Sudan and Ethiopia after 1945. He obtained in 1947 the dismissal of this project by the United Nations (wanted mainly by the British to enlarge their Sudan with most of northern Eritrea) with his continuous pressure on the Latinoamerican representatives (like those of Haiti) at the ONU: by only one vote -exactly the one of Haiti- Eritrea was not divided between Sudan and Ethiopia.
But later was unsuccessful -as a representative even of independist Eritrean organizations- when he went to New York to talk in the United Nations against the annexation of Eritrea to Ethiopia as a federated province in 1950. In the ONU Vincenzo Di Meglio promoted (even in agreement with the Italian government) the "Fiduciary Administration" by Italy until 1960 of an independent Eritrea, to be done in a similar way to that of Italian Somalia .
In 1951 Dr. Di Meglio created the Casa degli Italiani ("House of the italians)" in Asmara as the center for the remaining members of the Italian Eritreans. In recent years the "Casa" has been proposed to be named with his name.
- Franco Bandini. Gli italiani in Africa, storia delle guerre coloniali 1882-1943 p. 67
- Bandini, Franco. Gli italiani in Africa, storia delle guerre coloniali 1882-1943. Longanesi. Milano, 1971.
- Bereketeab, R. Eritrea: The making of a Nation. Uppsala University. Uppsala, 2000.
- Di Meglio, Rita. Gli Italiani in Eritrea. Italian Embassy in Eritrea. Asmara, 2004.