Malam Mamane Barka is so far the only master of the Biram in Niger and all over the world. With the assistance of Barka this unique instrument is not dead. And when the old master handed over the instrument to his successor he asked him to promote the Biram and talk about it all over the world. As an instrument played and appreciated by the audience is not dead. The old master died in 2006. Since then Malam Mamane Barka follows this mission. He himself is a well know musician in Niger, famous for many popular songs he composed in the eighties and nineties. He used to play other traditional string instruments, but today his dedication is the BIRAM.
The SHOW: Malam Mamane Barka presents the songs of the Boudouma together with one percussionist, who plays during the show three different kinds of traditional nigerien percussion: Kalangou, calebasse and of course the Douma, a spiritual drum, used for the secret rhythms of the Haussa trance dance “Bori”. Omar, the percussionist is he himself a griot, initiated in these secret rhythms. The entire show is between 45 and 60 min.
The SONGS: In his songs he sings about the life of the ancestors, about the spirits, especially Kargila and also about the animals living with nomads like camels, cows and goats, fishes and birds; the beauty of the water in the lake, the beauty of the desert, the braveness of the warriors.
The BIRAM is a traditional instrument used by the Boudouma tribe in Eastern Niger. They are fishing nomads living on the border of lake Tchad. The instrument is a 5 string kind of harp, the form looks like a pirogue, one of those wooden barks used on the lake. It is played only by initiated masters. When the masters starts to play you easily find yourself in the middle of the lake environment. You can easily hear the fishes jumping and birds singing while the Boudouma people are fishing with their hands.
The Biram is a holy instrument, protected from the east by the spirit of the lake especially the ancestor of the Boudouma tribe, Kargila. And also from the south, west and north by the spirits of the desert bordering lake Tchad.
There has been only one old master of the Biram left. The youth is not interested any more. But when the musician Malam Mamane Barka, he himself a nomad from the Toubou tribe, heard about the Biram some years ago, he decided to stay with the old master to learn the Boudouma language and how to play the instrument. In 2002 he got a UNESCO scholarship to materialize his dream. And when he arrived on the Boudouma island he was warmly welcomed by the master who thought his instrument dead already. After many rituals of purification the old master agreed to educate Malam Mamane Barka the holy instrument and the lyrics of the mystical songs. As Barka himself is a son of the sand dunes, the old master gave him his last Biram as a gift. Malam Mamane Barka inherited with the BIRAM the knowledge of rituals and cultural heritage of the Boudouma. He is conscious about his responsibility according to the Boudouma and their spirit Kargila. After the legends Kargila is watching the Boudouma and cares about their culture and their situation.