A rare and valorous pearl plunged in the Indian Ocean, the red Island, red like love and passion, the Island-Continent, the Island of biodiversity, the Big Island. I can enumerate all superlatives but no words are found to define it exactly.
Do I not speak about Paradise?
Don’t believe it? Think again, I talk about MADAGASCAR.
For all foreigners who hear it for the first time, all their perceptions of the world change in less than one second and they make remarks like “you are the first Madagascarian that I/we know” or they take reference from the movie and ask if there are any giraffes, hippopotamus, lions and penguins. First of all, I want to put emphasis on the fact that the term “Madagascarian” does not exist and Malagasy is the right word to name the population of Madagascar. Regarding the movie’s saga, the above mentioned animals don’t exist here.
- Madagascar 1: It’s a good movie.
- Madagascar 2: Average.
- Madagascar 3: A must watch.
But MADAGASCAR the country is nothing short of MAGIC and an important thing to bear in mind is that apart from the movie, Madagascar is first a rich island of cultures, of religions and of a wide panel of natural resources.
Through these questions, I want to guide you into discovering my paradise, my origin, my root and my Country. But before that, I think that it would be better if I introduce myself. So my name is RAKOTOARISOA Tanjon’ny Aina (Tanjona). I am eighteen and I come from Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar). I have already finished my high-school and this year I am planning to pursue my study at Pearson College of the Atlantic, Canada. Till now I have spent my entire life at Madagascar, the place where I saw my first sun, took my first steps, said my first word, met the best people and most importantly I learnt how to live. My favorite pastimes and interests are photography, humanitarian work, playing sports (basketball, ping-pong, volleyball), computer games, listening to music (all kinds except metal and hard-rock), passing most of my time on social networking sites and above all having fun with my friends and family. Do not be intrigued if I say that I am often on social networking sites like the rest of the youngsters in the world. I mean that for foreigners, Madagascar is like a jungle where we live with animals in the forests; we cannot eat without hunting and cannot move without building a dug-out canoe. The movie Madagascar and the media amplify this image, however the following lines will surely dismantle all misconceptions and open your eyes to a life in Madagascar never before unveiled.
… To be Malagasy means belonging to several cultures and living in a country full of half-breeds. This reality is a result of the history of Madagascar …
The origin of Malagasy remains a mystery but one thing is for sure that some people from Indonesia and East-Africa were the first occupants of this land. In the seventeenth century, Arabs approached the island and established their trade links. Due to their influence, Malagasy began writing in Arabic till at the beginning of the nineteenth century when Roman alphabets were imposed. In 1500, the first European arrived in Madagascar precisely Portuguese, the navigator Diego Diaz. Since then Europeans continued exploring the country, like Dutch, English and French, to impose their own laws but all their efforts were to vain.
This is why it is common to meet Arabs, Indo-Pakistanis and Asians all over the island though Malagasy have their own original features.
At this period the island was still split into many clans with their own kingdoms. But Andrianampoinimerina, the leader of the clan of l’Imerina (actually called Antananarivo, capital of the island), counted amongst the wise men of the world, is the first King of Madagascar who had the charisma and the force to raise the challenge and unify the country since 1787. He did not give up expanding his territory by mastering perfectly the economic and administrative development.
His death in 1810 was not a barrier in achieving his own goal because he guided his son, Radama I, to pursue his activities. The King Radama I, the Queen Ranavalona I, the King Radama II, the Queen Ranavalona II and the Queen Rasoherina were the leaders of Madagascar since 1810 till 1895 when the authority to run the country was taken by France.
Madagascar survived a long period of fight and rebellion before finally obtaining its independence on the 26th of June 1960 after an election. At this time, the island became a Republic and was managed by a Malagasy as President selected by election and voting. Despite being independent, the French presence is still always felt in Madagascar.
The political situation of Madagascar is still not stable because there is often a transitory period following one legal presidential mandate. Like the one we are living in at the moment since 2009 when the President at this time, Ravalomanana Marc, was succeeded by a young man known in the world of the Malagasy night as a Dj, called Rajoelina Andry. (Do not be astonished! You did not read wrong. Our country is indeed run by a Disc-joker at the moment and though people ask for an election but he does not agree on having one).
In spite of the problems that Malagasy face everyday, they always stay cheerful and smile because they know that the important thing in life is to: “BE HAPPY”.
Madagascar, the Pearl emerging on the Indian Ocean, is separated from the Southeast Africa by the Mozambique’ Canal about 400km. With its paradise green Forest, mountains and rivers, Madagascar is limited by its 4000km of coast of transparent turquoise water and white sands. Madagascar stretches in about 592,000 km²; this large area makes her among the large island in the world. With a satellite view, my island looks like the left foot. So it is not a coincidence if I take It as the support of my life on which I conceived myself, I based my past and future and I built my best dreams because nothing is impossible in this island.
The landscape of Madagascar is just staggering and amazing. We can separate the relief of this land into five parts without talking about its heavenly beach. The north is dominated by wet and luxuriant forests where dwell some exotic plants such as clove tree and vanilla, the east side with its dense forests, the center with its high-plateaus where the rice fields are, the western coast with its mangrove swamp and finally the south-east with its aspect as a desert. About the fauna and flora, I do not have words to describe them since Madagascar is the country more well-known in the world by its endemic animals and plants like Maki and Orchid. Isn’t it just amazing?
About the climate, two seasons are sufficient for us which are damp and dry weather. And the sun is present in average 330 days per year; it means that it is almost sunny all the time. Malagasy have the sun not only in the sky but also in their hearts. That’s why the atmosphere is always “MAFANA” everywhere you go that means literally “great, peaceful and hot environment”.Madagascar has a panoramic view unlike any other in the world. It seems that my country is really a world apart because all kinds of fauna, flora and landscapes have shelter here. Behind this natural and wild side of Madagascar hides an urban side, particularly in the capital and some other cities of the island with infrastructures undeniably interesting. It is so sad that this aspect of my country is often forgotten because the media doesn’t really focus on it. That is the reason why Foreigners ignore the existence of a “normal life” here. We may not have many luxurious places like in the US but our natural beauty is worth “five stars”.
Madagascar is divided into six provinces and eighteen districts. But since 2002, it is divided into twenty-two regions altogether. As it is still uncommon so it is better if I present you my country as it was before. So the six provinces of Madagascar are: Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina and Toliara. But in addition to that, I will also take you through to some great places such as Ankarana, Isalo, Fort-Dauphin and Nosy-Be.
It is the capital of Madagascar. This is the largest and most important city of the island since royal epoch uptill now, not only for its history but also for its administrative, political and economic roles. So Antananarivo is the city where dwell the important royal palaces, most industries and administrative buildings. This city is also home to most half-breeds mixed with a considerable number of French, Pakistanis, Indians, Chinese and Comoros. Because of this mixture, western cultures have begun dominating this city in all the fields.
Situated in the North, Antsiranana is the city known by its rich and glorious past. With the upper town full of neighbourhoods and the lower town filled with former colonial districts and military, Antsiranana is a city that delights at every turn. The ever-smiling faces of its people, the street stalls, shops, bars and restaurants are always warming the hearts of visitors. It is also rich in discoveries like the white sand beaches “Ramena”, the emerald sea, the rainforest, the crocodiles of Lake sacred and many other discoveries which are yet to be made.
Fianarantsoa is a town located southeast of the island. The major shopping center and transport hub, Fianarantsoa is connected by rail to the east coast of Madagascar. It also owns farms specialized in livestock production, soap and oil factories. Local industries based on processing of rice, meat, brick making and woodworking also exist. Fianarantsoa is also the place where the best wine of the island is produced. The varieties, imported by France and Switzerland, give red wines, rosy and white wines the fruity taste which makes them drinkable. Finally the province is considered as the intellectual center of Madagascar as many intellects dwell in the area.
It is the largest city on the west coast of Madagascar. Mahajanga is a crossroad, a town of meetings and exchanges, largely open to the Mozambique Canal, the nearby Comoros, Africa, Middle East and Europe. With its sea side animated every night, Mahajanga is also one of the hottest cities in the country. That is why it is a favorite resort for the inhabitants of the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo. The healthy climate of Mahajanga, its beautiful white sand beaches, preserved nature and the beauty of its landscape makes it an ideal place for vacation.
Toamasina is the first commercial port of Madagascar. It is also the capital of the Eastern Province and the second urban center in the country. Bordered by turquoise lagoon and its very wet climate, Toamasina is the best place giving us the lush vegetation and the scenic beauty.
Toliara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Madagascar. It is the heart of the southern region of Madagascar. It is really rich in discoveries. To navigate the crystalline waters of the lagoons with dugout canoe, to discover the fauna and flora so peculiar in southern Madagascar, to meet people so welcoming, to relax in the best beautiful beaches of Ifaty, Toliara is just the magical place to explore.
Ankarana shelters the cathedrals of limestone named Tsingy of Bemaraha. It is really a national pride since it was declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990. The Tsingy is composed of a dense network of faults, cracks, surfaces of limestone blocks carved blades or sharp needles. It is the most place spectacular of the Big Island. Before it was a refuge for ancestors but now it becomes a place of worship and ceremony for the people.
Rivers and canyons, natural pools, green setting in the heart of an arid site, archaeological sites loaded with secrets and history, a wildlife sanctuary and flora as varied, The National Park of Isalo is the silo of biodiversity of the Great South Malagasy. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, lemurs, aloe, etc. … nature is particularly generous in this part of Madagascar, despite the rather dry landscape. It is the most visited national park in Madagascar, not only because of its natural wealth but also because this site is a fascinating vein of history of this part of the world as Madagascar.
Situated in the Deep South east of the country, Fort-Dauphin has an undeniable charm and it is, therefore, no wonder that it has developed into the centre of a prosperous tourist industry. The city is dominated by splendid mountain chain which offers a unique and unspoiled view of the area. On the north, east, and south the bright azure colors of the Indian Ocean take over the magnificent view. The town offers a variety of pastimes like visiting colonial architecture or museum, strolling through the markets, lazing on the fine sandy beaches, enjoying the marvelous cuisine or exploring the sensational dry-forests of the surroundings.
For those few of you who know about Madagascar, surely you would know about Nosy-Be since it is one of the main tourist destinations of Madagascar. Hotel establishments are numerous and are often of a good quality. Activities are also large in Nosy-Be but are mainly oriented towards the sea: boat tours, snorkeling and sunbathing. The splendour of the tropical sun was not long before sunbathing with its 345 days of sunshine a year. Surrounded by beautiful small islands, Nosy-Be is a land of dreams and adventure without any equal. Every year Nosy-Be hosts the “Donia festival” which is a carnival between islands of the Indian Ocean to present their cultures.
In fact, every city has its own culture but one thing is for sure that Malagasy is unique. Madagascar is an island where everybody can feel at home, where all cultures mix day-to-day, where all the people are atleast bilingual (Malagasy, the language of Madagascar and French) or maybe even more.
“Fihavanana” is the Malagasy word which holds the Malagasy concept of relationships and good will between people, at the same time physical and spiritual. In Madagascar the mutual respect, hospitality and the tolerance between people is still alive everywhere. Though there maybe certain inequality between Malagasy lives still it is not as much as to prevent them from staying united.
Malagasy people are also known by the word “Mora-Mora”. Literally it means gently, softly or still with slowness. A special characteristic of Malagasy is taking things “without due reflection”. For example, a Malagasy can stay really calm in a scary situation yet some of us panic too. It does not mean that we do not react but rather we think and meditate to stay calm. That is why it is said that for anyone who needs to relax and to control his hysteria, Madagascar is the best place. This own fancy life of Malagasy is very distinct when it comes to time since it is said that most of us Malagasy are unpunctual. This is a mythical quote of one famous Malagasy singer, named Bekoto, “Malagasy have no watch but they know time”. Isn’t it just poetic? This quote explains that every Malagasy has his/her own time. So what we do, what we desire, where we go, it’s better to bear our loss in patience. It is not necessary to get excited but better to just respire, stay calm, always smile and life goes well. For the moment Madagascar is still a developing country. It is classified as the 130th world-power but don’t laugh at this because one day we will be the first, not tomorrow but one day, we go “Mora-Mora”.
In the domain of culture and traditions, all countries are the best places to discover them. Even if they are not really seen in some cities, one thing is sure that Malagasy do not forget their roots. That is the reason why they follow their ancestors’ traditions like the circumcision, the “vody-ondry” which is their own way to demand the girls’ hands before wedding . . .
Trends overseas are welcomed with open arms in the Malagasy Daily. Now it paces its life behind this new way of life, gradually modifies, creates it, and carries it in his alone universe. Currently, the Malagasy has
nothing to do with that of yesteryear. This is another “Malagasy” under more awake to the discovery of new strictly from elsewhere to make it a lifestyle. The change in this population, the majority in Madagascar, however, is fairly recent. Since the arrival of the new millennium, we can say that the transformation of Malagasy has really shocked the country and the mentality of the people themselves. Malagasy Life, mostly Young Life, becomes now synonymous with Western trend. The majority part of the country has established itself with this new identity that is urban culture. It has already conquered all the youth of the capital. Arguably, this new wave of cities monopolizes the Big Island. But the capital is considered the most Westernized city of Madagascar, that’s where this new culture is the more important.
1st African Country to have its national environmental politics
1st producer of Sapphire and Gold
1st exporter of Vanilla, Clove and Litchis
Number one in the world about Petanque
• its endemics fauna and flora,
• its long and complicate names,
• Its rich sea foods,
• Its idyllic, exuberant and unique landscape,
• Its craft industry of quality and originality
On the way to be a producer of Petrol …
The achievements of Madagascar are countless and there are many more reasons to glorify the beauty of my island. Moreover I want to stress that Madagascar is a treasure, not only for its exceptional landscape but also for its residents who are just as marvelous. Sadly though, in spite of our heavenly and unique environment and the movie in its name, Madagascar is still not well-known. And it would be appropriate to mention that most External Medias abuse their reports by showing a rotten image of Madagascar as a wild poor island to their benefits (I mean to have maximum number of viewers). So I really hope that through this extract, you now have a new and positive view of Madagascar and are aware of the existence of a “normal life” of the Malagasy behind their divine landscape, natural and wild environment.Even though nothing is better for the pleasure of the eye than to be directly on spot for the discovery, yet having a website like this is really an opportunity for everyone to present their country with their own point of views also agreeing with the reality. Discovering new countries, residents, cultures and mentalities through this channel is surely better than doing the same through Media. In short, to construct a better World Unified, Peaceful, Fraternal, Respectful, Free, Equitable, and Just, we must know more and more about the origins of everyone.