Artistic encounters
in war and violent conflict
 

Faytinga

Faytinga Performing Artist

Faytinga is a prominent Eritrean singer and musician of Kunama heritage. A freedom fighter turned musician, Faytinga has developed her own style of music that finds inspiration in Eritrea’s rich musical traditions.

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Faytinga
Eritrea
Performing Artist

The artist

Born Dahab Faid Tinga, the prominent Eritrean singer goes by the name Faytinga, producing music that draws from her roots in the Kunama tribe in which women and men have equal rights. Born in 1964, Faytinga joined Eritrea’s liberation struggle at the age of fourteen, educated by the liberation forces, whom she later joined as a combatant until the liberation in 1991. 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 actual name ‘Faid Tinga’) by the British administration in the early 1950s.

Artistic practice

Faytinga’s dream to become a singer came true when she was sent to entertain troops on the front, using her songs as a message of hope and determination. Freedom fighter turned musician, she has always been interested in music and developed her unique style ‘in the field’ that represents a blend of several traditional music forms. In a 2004 interview with Joel Savage for The Voice magazine she said, “I sing about peace, love, and togetherness, since war, conflict and other disturbances did not bring any positive change to Africa. It only creates refugee crisis, pains, agony, discomfort and economic hardship. I bring a music of hope to the people.”

Faytinga composes her own songs and interprets work from well-known Eritrean poets and composers. She plays the krar (an Eritrean lute) and finds inspiration in Eritrea’s musical traditions that mix the wata (an Eritrean bass lute), guitar, flute, and percussions. Her delicate vocals are decidedly East African, as can be heard in the lyrics of songs like ‘Milomala’, a composition about Eritrea's struggle for independence in the 1980s.

Faytinga has toured extensively around the world and serves as a ‘cultural ambassador’ for Eritrea. She is one of the first Eritrean artists engaged in support of people living with HIV and AIDS and has participated in numerous World AIDS Day events.


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