A history of Eritrean music, from revolutionary funk to viral pop (Guardian)

A history of Eritrean music, from revolutionary funk to viral pop

Music has always played a pivotal role in Eritrea. It mobilised people during the 30-year war of independence from Ethiopia, and after peace was finally won in 1991 it formed the soundtrack to a new nation emerging from decades of conflict.

Most of the country’s early songs reflected on the hardship Eritreans had suffered during the war, with many carrying overtly political messages to unite the citizens and recruit the young to fight.

Since independence was declared in 1993, the repertoire has expanded. Now, singers address anything from pride in Eritrea’s successes to songs of protest – as well as love and partying, just like musicians everywhere.

Early sounds

Eritrea has a long, rich history of folk and ritual music. One of the earliest compilations was recorded by ethnomusicologists at America’s Smithsonian Institute. A 1951 Folkways compilation on Ethiopia, but also taking in Sudan and Eritrea, is a great place to start, as is a later compilation dedicated to religious music of the region.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.