Eritrean singer Dehab Faid Tinga - popular known as Faytinga - recently released a new single, ‘Besela’ (loosely translated as 'a scar') that talks about love and pain. Currently based in Nyon, Switzerland the artist is also currently working on her fourth album.
Active on the Eritrean music scene since the 1990s, Faytinga grew up in a family that was musically inclined and appreciated culture. When writing songs she is inspired by what goes on around her. “I love the universal language of music as it gives me sense of peace and tranquility," she explains.
Faytinga is among several Eritrean female singers who were assimilated as performers into the Eritrean armed forces. It was during her youth when she joined Eritrea's armed struggle for independence that she saw the power of music to help transform the destiny of a nation.
Since then she has enjoyed a successful musical career spanning some two decades, in recent years as part of her country's exiled music community. Besides music, the artist has been at the forefront of social campaigns to raise awareness of HIV/Aids, violence and poverty.
Sang in Tigrinya, her new single ‘Besela’ narrates the experience of a woman who has been mistreated by a partner and suffered a lot as a result. “Don’t force me to eliminate the scar inside my heart, as it is impossible,” part of the lyrics say. While it addresses the pain that the woman has suffered, the song ends with the woman forgiving her partner.
Faytinga has to date released three albums. Her debut effort, Sala Da Goda, was released in Eritrea in 1996, with most songs sung in the Kunama language. Her second album, Numey, was released four years later in Paris, France. Her third release, simply named Eritrea, was also released internationally.
Speaking about her upcoming fourth album, Faytinga said she listens to plenty of international music, particularly songs that encourage hope and inspire people to do the right things. “One of the new songs in my upcoming album will address the out-of-control global crisis and disorder around us that you see every day," she explains. "It says, ‘Let the tears stop'."
Challenges facing the Eritrean industry
Faytinga says that even though Eritrea is blessed with a rich musical culture, it is unfortunate that the country’s music has not fared any better on the global music market. “There is a new generation of young Musicians emerging in Eritrea," she says. "Unfortunately as Eritrean musicians, we have not been able to export and integrate Eritrean music into the world market. Eritrea is a very young country and its music industry has not really developed. Consequently, international promoters have not paid attention to Eritrean music.”
She says that while the Eritrean government and the public have been helpful to artists by offering moral support, Eritrean artists have not been able to benefit financially from their art. In particular Faytinga is criticial of the state of copyrights in Eritrea. “There is little to no respect for copyright laws. People freely post our music - on YouTube for example - with no benefit for the concerned musicians, who do not get any royalties for their own work," she says.
Faytinga adds if Eritrea can adhere to international copyright standards, this will help Eritrean artists attain global exposure. “There is a lot of work ahead to be done to correct this situation, but I feel optimistic and hopeful that it will be achieved soon."