The idea of Nyatiti Stories is inspired by the often forgotten history behind the eight string Luo lyre, an instrument that treasures knowledge and traditions. By highlighting and giving new life to the knowledge about it, Daniel Onyango unfolds the story of the Nyatiti from the younger generations perspective.
Daniel met Odour Nyagweno, one of the few people in Kenya who still knows and practice Nyatiti. Odour became his mentor, friend and Nyatiti master, and passed on many years of knowledge and traditions.
Throughout Daniels years journey of learning and playing the instrument, he came across many young Kenyans that showed great interest in it. What he also discovered was that only very few knew about the Nyatiti, although Kenyan and Benga traditions originates from it. He experienced that the meaning of the Nyatiti is often misunderstood and that it has a reputation that not correlates with the truth. Many youths thought of the Nyatiti as an instrument only played by old men from rural areas, and many had never had any experience of how to play it.
With this in mind Daniel felt an urge to tell the reality, and to bring the knowledge of the Nyatiti back to the urban setting that stands at risk of being forgotten. This misrepresentation of the instrument inspired Daniel to start the Nyatiti Stories.
To Daniel, Nyatiti Stories present an opportunity to also experiment and explore alternative sounds by inviting other artist to collaborate and interpret the nyatiti music.
Daniel Onyango is not just a Nyatiti Player. He finds his stories through engagement with young people in his community. In 2007 Daniel started the organisation Hope Raisers Initiative, where he has been key in assisting to amplify young people’s voices through culture, art and music. Daniel is also the initiator and curator of Music Of The People music series, where established and unestablished artists are invited to share their music to the community it originates from. He is also the curator of the annual Ayub Ogada Nyatiti Tribute event in Nairobi.
“Each interaction through the instrument I encounter a personal experience in the music, the performance, the traditions and history behind the Nyatiti. It invites the younger generation to contribute to the preservation and promotion of our cultural heritage.” – Daniel Onyango
It’s called the Nyatiti Stories.