The mvet is an African stick zither found in Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, northern Republic of Congo and western Central African Republic. Traditionally the mvet was made from a raffia stick from which five strings were cut from the peel and were stretched over a short notched bridge, effectively doubling the number of pitches. A gourd resonator was attached to the stick opposite to the bridge. The instrument pictured is a modern version from Cameroon that is much larger than traditional instruments, and two extra resonators.
The term mvet also refers to many arts associated with the instrument such as narrative singing, storytelling, dance, and mime. The mvet player must go through a long and intense initiation and training and holds a special place in the society. The spoken and sung narratives include epic stories that maintain the morale values, history, legends and ancestral lines of the tribal group.
|© R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002