The Bar Loves the Mvet
In trying times like these, we sometimes need the sounds of the ancestors just to get through. From Koppo and Lady B:
Where is Cameroon?
About the size of California, Cameroon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Nigeria to the north and west, Chad and the Central African Republic to the east, and Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the south. Often called "Africa in miniature," Cameroon is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Africa, with hundreds of ethnicities, dialects, and traditions.
What is the mvet?
The Mvet is both an epic story and an instrument. It is present in the cultures of many African forest peoples related to the Beti/Fang tribes, including those in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo. The oral history is characterized by an Ekang phase, which includes spiritual and mythological topics (such as Nzana Nga Zogo). Such stories honor village leaders, recount stories of heroism, and inspire communities. These epic stories are played with a traditional stringed instrument called the mvet. Constructed with materials found in the Central African rainforest, the mvet is made of a long bamboo spine, with one or more gourds that resonate when a player plucks its strings.
Where is the mvet played?
Traditionally, musicians played the mvet spontaneously in rural settings when men, women, and children gathered in villages at dusk at the end of a day's work. Today, the mvet continues to be played [albeit sparsely] during gatherings including weddings, funerals, and family celebrations. The mvet is primarily found among the Fang/Beti subgroups of the Bantu people in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo.
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List of West African Instruments
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