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The only known master of the Biram, the ancient stringed instrument of the Boudouma tribe of West Africa.
Mamane Barka was born into a family of Toubou nomads and grew up to become a teacher and then a celebrated ngurumi player and pop musician in Niger. A decade ago Mamane heard about the beautiful sound of the biram, an enormous boat shaped 5-stringed harp sacred to the Boudouma people of Lake Chad. When he learnt there was only one elderly player of the instrument remaining Mamane went to live with the Boudouma to study with the old master to learn the instrument and to be initiated into it’s rituals and ancient mythical songs. On the death of the master, Mamane was bequeathed the biram and charged with bringing the biram to the attention of the wider world.
Now Mamane maintains the tradition by touring the world with master drummer Oumarou Adamou, the son of a Hausa griot, whose trance-enducing percussion is the bedrock of this extraordinarily powerful desert blues.
Image © Mamane Barka
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