top of page
top Malick Dramé



Malick Dramé is an actor, musician, puppeteer, originally from Kirango, a district of Markala in the province of Segou, in Mali.

Founder in 1986 of the Nyogolon Company, the first independent theater company in Mali that has staged numerous works by contemporary African authors practicing the KoteBa (useful theater), a traditional theatrical form with an educational vocation and which was produced throughout Africa, in Europe, in Asia.

In 2008 he was part of the Troupe del Popolo Bozo invited by the Maison des Cultures du Monde to Paris to present the Sogo-bo, the traditional release of masks and puppets.

Following the thread of the water on the banks of the Niger River, Malick Dramé introduces us to the knowledge of the Bozo people, a people of fishermen who hold an extraordinary tradition of masks and water puppets: in the rainy season, the do bò , "the secret comes out ”from the waters of the Niger River, on wooden pirogues transformed into theaters, with puppets swimming on the surface of the water.


Malick Dramé
00:00 / 00:15

I come from Kirango, Markala, which is a district of Ségou. 

Ségou is the fourth largest economic region of Mali.

Markala is a town and a municipality in Mali, in the circle and region of Ségou, on the Niger River, 35 km north-east of the city of Ségou.
Colonial authorities in French Sudan built a dam (usually called the Sansanding Dam) in Markala for irrigation to develop the cultivation of cotton, rice and sugar cane as part of the Office du Niger. Inaugurated in 1947, it has become the largest water retention dam in Mali.
The Festival of Masks and Puppets (Fesmamas) is held in Markala every year in March.


Malick Dramé
00:00 / 00:55

I did my primary and fundamental studies in Kirango, Markala, and after the fundamental studies I came to Bamako, where I did the National Institute of Arts in the Puppet Art section from 1982 to 1986.

There I founded a theater group, which we call the Nyogolon Group, which makes intervention theater, awareness theater, we also show works by African, Malian and contemporary authors.

I travel a lot, I've been to many countries, I've been to Europe, Asia and Africa.

Malick Dramé
00:00 / 00:55

I am an actor, a musician, a puppeteer.

Art is a whole: an excellent actor must be a good musician, and a good puppeteer, a good dancer and a good singer.

The puppet theater is a whole: it is accompanied by music and dance and scenic play.

Malick Dramé

Malick Dramé in the atelier of the Nama Company ,
holding the character  Y'a torons -  Bamako 


Malick Dramé
00:00 / 01:12

The Bozos are an ethnic group that lives on the water, where everything is related to water.

They live off the products of the water, that is, they fish, they extract sand and gravel for the good of the citizens, they essentially live on water.

This is what we call Bozo.

The celebrations of Sogo Bo are every year: everyone organizes traditional celebrations, and it is in these traditional celebrations that masks and puppets come out.

Sogo Bo means "the exit of sogo" , sogo are the masks, and literally sogo means animal.

They can be aquatic animals, pets, and so on.


Photo:  Mary Newcombe , at Ségou, Mali 2010

Malick Dramé
00:00 / 01:10


The Bozos generally have their party on the water, the puppets are in the pirogues, you know the pirogues don't you?

The puppets are in the pirogues and go along the village.

All along the village are there, they attend the event.

The Sogo, the puppets, are in the pirogues, dancing accompanied by songs, and especially the sounds of tam-tam, throughout the village.

It is a holiday that everyone is waiting for, it is annual, at a certain time of the year, when there is a little flood and there is a lot of water on the Niger River.

The puppets are in the pirogue, also the Sogo, and they go along the village, and everyone is there, women, children, the elderly, attend the event for free, it is popular.

Schermata 2022-03-25 alle 15.57.54.png

Photo: Elisabeth den Otter -  Horse (So) and Bird (Kònò) in The Secret Come Forth The Depiction of Bozo and Bamanan Animals in Malian Puppetry, 

Malick Dramé
00:00 / 01:04

Traditionally, every year, people wait for the masks and puppets to come out on the water.

And we let them know that the animals will come, either from the north or the south, and come to have fun, and then they leave, because after the shows the masks and the puppets are in the pirogues, and they come back, they go very far from the village; we see them leave and ask them to return healthy for next year; and it goes on like this ...

All night...

All evening, and everyone is happy, let's sing ...

Let's Dance...

Well, we're comfortable ...

We are very happy!


Malick Dramé
00:00 / 01:51

Puppets and masks have myths, and I'm going to tell you a story.

In a village of Ségou called Sama, there were two twins, one was a snake and the other was a man.

The problem was that the woman was not supposed to see the snake hidden by her brother in a hut, and sadly, one day the woman opened the door and saw the snake ...

And the snake went north, passed through all the villages on the banks of the Niger River, and entered a lake, called Débo, in Mopti.

And this snake, according to the story, turned into a cow.

Fishermen come all year round to the edge of this lake, the Dèbo, and it seems that at night, the snake transformed into a cow, approaches the cows, and if it mates with a cow from your herd, there you have every chance to have many many many animals ...

Everyone knows this story from Ségou to Mopti, the story I can tell you, which is related to water, here it is ...

Malick Dramé
00:00 / 02:14

To sum up: masks and puppets.

The masks are called the Sogo here in Mali.

The puppets are called Mɔgɔnin, Maanin which means "little men":  puppets are called little men .
Generally, these masks and puppets are seen around the traditional associations.

Every end of the year, there are traditional festivals that are organized, everyone is there, from the village chief to the last of the village, everyone is there, and joins the party ...
Today, we have adapted the masks and puppets to the scene; why masks and puppets?
So that people can remember certain animals, which are in danger of extinction ...
They are the masks, even the puppets: we represent colonization for example, forced labor, and the fight against excision, the proliferation of small arms and so on ...

This is basically the context in which we can put the puppet and the mask.

Well, it fits into the training of the actor, and starting from this technique, we can awaken people, and it can be profitable, because currently there are troupes that are created almost everywhere, around the puppet and the masks.

This is basically what I managed to collect for you, thank you very much.


bottom of page