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Numey, Cobalt, 1999
Eritrea, Cobalt, 2003



The Eritrean singer Faytinga belongs to the Kunama people
Faytinga comes from the Kunama people, one of Eritrea’s tribes, where women and men have equal rights. Her mother grew up in the highlands of Eritrea, while her father was a revered figure among the Kunama people, fighting for his homeland. He was given the nickname of ‘Fighting gun’ (taken from his name Faid Tinga) by the British administrators in the early 50’s. Born in 1963, at the age of fourteen Faytinga joined the liberation struggle, where she was given education. Later she became a combatant until the liberation in 1991.

Faytinga’s dream was to be a singer
Faytinga’s dream was to be a singer, which came true when she was sent to entertain troops on the front, using her songs as a message of hope and determination. She composes her own songs and also interprets work from well known Eritrean poets and composers. When singing, she plays the krar, a small lyre. An accomplished and elegant dancer as well as talented singer, Faytinga became a leading figure and source of inspiration to her country men and women.

Faytinga’s musical career
In 1990, she toured the US and Europe with her Eritrean group. She toured for the first time as a solo artist in 1995 after releasing her first album on tape. She won the 2nd prize and 1st East African women singer at the 2000 Ma’ Africa in Benoni, South Africa. It took until 1999 and an appearance at the Africolor festival in France, before she recorded her first album Numey. In 2003, still finding her inspiration in Eritrea’s musical tradition with krar and wata, she also brings guitar, flute, and percussions in her latest wonderful second album Eritrea. With her background of mixed ethnicities and close ties to the independence movement, it isn't a surprise that she has become an Eritrea's musical heroine.

Faytinga’s style and her humanitarian engagement
Her first international release is Numey on the Paris-based Cobalt label. All of the songs on this album are in Kunama, a very old African language. When listening at her music, some ties to West African music surface. The Eritrean bass-lute called wata is remarkably similar to the ngoni. Another similarity with music from the other side of the continent, is that many of Faytinga's songs are ‘advice’ songs, such as Numey (‘Don't interrupt the teller’). However, Faytinga's delicate vocals are decidedly East African, as are her lyrics like Milomala, a song from Eritrea's struggle for independence. Freedom fighter woman turned musician, Faytinga has developed her own style ‘in the field’ that is her own blend of several traditional music forms. On 4 June 2005, on the occasion of an exceptional gala-diner concert for the benefit of women and children affected by HIV and AIDS that she had promoted, Faytinga released one of the first Eritrean songs addressing the issue of HIV and AIDS, putting into music her long engagement alongside those who are suffering.

Faytinga’s ‘Music of Hope’
In an interview with the ‘The Voice Magazine’ in August 2004, Faytinga described in the following words the meaning of her music: “I sing about peace, love, and togetherness, since war, conflict and other disturbances did not bring any positive change to Africa, but it only creates refugee crisis, pains, agony, discomfort and economic hardship. I bring music of hope to the people.”