The earliest musical traditions of Eritrea were political in nature and focused on the nation's struggle to gain independence from Ethiopia. Post- independence music was characterized by the recurring themes of the struggles faced by the people during the war. The "kirar" or "kraar," a stringed instrument that resembles a guitar, is usually the main musical accompaniment.Continue Reading
Eritrea has a rich history of folk and tribal music. Traditional musical instruments include the "abangala," which resembles the banjo, the "wata," or violin, and "kebero," or drums. During the 30-year war of independence from Ethiopia, music was also a tool used to recruit people into the military. A good example of this is the "Anway," a victory song performed by the well-known freedom fighter Tesfai Mehari in 1977. Several freedom fighters, including the late Abraham Afwerki, whose song "Erena" celebrated the singer's return to his country after 30 years of conflict, went on to become musicians after independence.
During the 1960s, Eritrea established its first pop radio station, Kagnew, in Asmara. One of the country's first pop stars was Tsehaytu Beraki. She rose to fame singing and playing the kirar in the bars in Asmara and later relocated to the Netherlands. Her song "Aminey" is one of the best-known songs from the country.Learn more about Art & Literature