Nyatiti is a traditional instrument of the Luo tribe in Kenya. Its size is about twice as small as an acoustic guitar. The performer has three tasks when playing the Nyatiti: percussion, strings, and vocal.
Anyango is the first female nyatiti player in the world because the instrument has traditionally been played only by men in the tribe.
- The Nyatiti is played sitting low to the ground, while keeping a small distance from your body. You also put iron bells called "gara" on your right ankle and a metal ring called "oduongo" on the big toe of your right foot. Then, you sing and play keeping the beat by tapping the ring on the edge of the Nyatiti. The Nyatiti is also called Kanbanane. "Kanba" means string and "nane" means eight, so it literally means "eight strings".
- The body is made of a hollowed fig tree and is like a hemisphere. Cow skin is put on the surface of the hemisphere. Nylon fishing lines are used for the eight strings, which have three thicknesses. In the past, female cow's Achilles' tendons were used for the strings instead of the fishing lines. Two thin bamboos like sticks and wood chips are bonded together by bee wax, which creates a deep echoing sound.
- There are reasons why the Nyatiti has eight strings, why only men are allowed to play it and why it is called "Nyatiti". The first four days after a male’s birth and after his death are said to be very special in Luo culture. In Nyatiti, the lower four strings represent the first four days of his birth and the upper four strings represent the four days after his death. Therefore, a woman playing the Nyatiti for the Luo tribe people is as impossible as a foreign woman becoming a sumo wrestler in Japan.
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