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Exhumation at Andramasina Antemotra

All around the world, every country has its customs and rituals. What I’m going to talk about; is not something new. For those who read my article about “ Famadihana”or Exhumation. Already have an idea, what happens during this family event. The difference between these articles than the last other one I wrote. I had the chance to attend an Exhumation at Andramasina Antemotra and this time there are pictures.

* Andramasina is a countryside that is located around 32 km from Tana. The last time we went there to visit. The road was a terrible dirt road. But now, it completely changed. You don’t have to worry about getting dusty anymore.

* On the way to go to Antemotra. Is the name of the place where the festivity took place. As you notice the hills, it took us around an hour and so to climb it to reach the place. We also passed by the Sacred lake. You might be wondering why is this lake so sacred. Here in Madagascar, there are a lot of sacred places, which has taboos that you have to respect. Some say that if you look in the lake, you can see a mysterious stairs that no one knows where it leads. Before there was a village there. A stranger, who was an old lady, went to this village. She begged for water but no one cared. She cursed the village. There was a huge flood. That’s when this village completely disappeared. That explains the existence of the stairs. Once there was a friend of the family that ate a pork sausage, and after he washed his hands there. It seemed that something pulled him in the water. Everyone searched for him but his corpse didn’t reappear from the water until after 3 days.

Once there was a man who took his pigs there. Then suddenly the pigs head turned backward. If you want to go to this countryside, you can’t eat or touch any pork. At least one week before, going there. When you don’t respect the taboos, something bad always happens.

* Before the huge family event, there was a dance party at night. This countryside is far from the capital. What was really amazing is that the country people like the famous Malagasy music that we listen to in town. It was nice to watch them dance, having the time of their lives. No matter their age, you can see the happiness on their face.

* During that night too, we roasted a sheep which was very delicious.

* We could also see those who tried to find money. Some sold different kinds of beverages. But the most famous there is the Toaka gasy: which is a strong alcoholic Malagasy beverage. Some men drink it until they are totally drunk.

* Here is a Sugar cane seller. It’s very sweet and it makes you want to eat non-stop until your mouth is tired chewing and spitting it out.

* This is the family Guest house. All the family stays there when they come to Antemotra.

* During the Exhumation, a zebu is killed to feed all the family and guests, and those who live around. What we have here is the skin of the dead zebu.

* Some Exhumations have the Malagasy traditional singers (mpihira gasy). But this time; we had this musical band to entertain people with the music they played.

* We can never forget the popular “Vary be menaka”. It’s the fatty beef that we eat with rice.

* This is the place where we feed the guests and those who live around.

* It’s time to go to the family tomb. You can see the people bringing the “tsihy”: which is a mat and the “lamba mena”: which is a shroud.

* Here is the family tomb which the ancestors are buried.

* Strong young men are digging and on top of the tomb are the “zana-drazana”: which are the generations of the ancestors. This is one way they show how proud they are to have ancestors which they came from.

* This is how the tomb looks like when it’s open. Only men entered it.

* This is the inside of the tomb; where you can see the corpse of the ancestors.

* Here are the group of men taking out the ancestors corpse out of the tomb

* They were laid on a mat. Some families wait every 7 years to renew the shroud.

* It takes time to renew the shroud. It’s a very tense moment for the family. It reminds them of their beloved ancestors that passed away a long time ago.

* To make sure that the shroud doesn’t become loose and open. This is the way, they do to prevent that.

* After that is done, we put it all back in the family tomb.

There are some Malagasy people who don’t do the Exhumation anymore. Everyone has their personal reasons and opinions. Despite the globalization, each country has their customs and traditions. Some doesn’t care about that anymore. They think its old fashion or even a waste of money. The Exhumation is the moment to gather all the family. A new beginning, to forget all the family feuds and become close again. It’s also the moment to know more about the ancestors that we came from. Especially, to know that when our time is through. We have a family tomb and won’t just be buried anywhere. As Malagasy, we have our beliefs. Respect it and that what makes us different from other countries.

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World of Books

Do we really know the importance of reading? Some of us might love it or hate reading. Since I was a child my wildest dream was to be locked up in a library and read all day. Everyone has a choice is either to be hooked up on books or T.V or internet.

I bet you’re wondering , why do I love books so much. It’s because it gives you knowledge and above all let you enter a new world. Especially books without pictures, makes you use your imagination.

My life in writing stories were inspired by the books i’ve read. Some might say that it’s more boring than watching a good movie on T.V. It’s not if you know how to choose the right one to read.

For some culture , the children are used to be read to , before going to bed. Some are still very young. Even if they don’t understand it yet. When they get older, they’ll have the habit of picking out a book and read to themselves.

For us Malagasy people, I can tell you that we have great authors. I’ve read alot of malagasy books, not just tales but stories. I loved it. Why can’t we read to our children every night before they go to bed? All of you will say that : ” We’re tired from work and no time or no book to read.” . I’ll answer you by saying that there’s time for everything, and reading is very relaxing and we have alot of book shops here.It won’t hurt to give it a try.

Why not give a book as a birthday present. It would be something different. It’s up to you , to convince the person to read a book.

When I say read a book, I don’t mean only stories. Read newspaper,magazine, encyclopedias ….. etc

For me personally, I can’t live without reading a book.

Choice the right book to read and you won’t regret it!!!!!!

Countryside In Madagascar

All around the world,  everyone doesn’t all live in a town or a city. Some prefers living at the countryside which isn’t a bad idea at all. In the city , it’s very filthy , polluted and crowded. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you hear is the noises from the cars and buses but in the countryside, just the sounds of the birds singing and the smell of pure air.

Here in Madagascar the types of houses, you see are different. It’s depends in which region you are . In the pics is the countryside here in Tana

It seems so quiet and peaceful  . Not worrying about always being in a hurry or where to buy food. You can just eat what you cultivated It’s also excellent for the health. In the city when you suck in air, you just start coughing. Here, in the countryside . It makes you feel like a new healthy person. The biggest disadvantage is the entertainment. If you don’t know how to amuse yourself by enjoying the nature . It can bore you to death.

Most of the elders , want to spend the rest of the days they have to live at the countryside . Living in the city can really tire us!!!

ENGLISH CLUBS IN TANA

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Here in the capital , we have so many english clubs around town. What they all have in common is to help people who wants to improve and practice their english. Personally, I’m a very active member of ICE CLUB ( I‘m Crazy about English). Our club has alot of different interesting activities. I’m going to talk about another english club that I interviewed.

I had a chance to meet ANDRIAMANDROSOMAHALAZA Njato ; RANDRIATIANA Francia; RAKOTOMANANTSOA Justin; ANDRIANARIVELO Fabrice who are active members of MLEC ( Municipal Library English Club) . Their club had been created 10 yrs ago; which is impressive. That the club is still going strong. They have around 40 to 50 official members; varied in all ages , occupations. They hold their meeting every Monday and Thursday 12:30 til 2 p.m. As they said the difference about them is that their club is divided into comities: Tourism comity; Youth Social Comity; Fundraising Comity. So if you want to join their club, you have to choose a comity. Like all other clubs , they have other activities like camping; picnics,…… etc. There membership fee is 4 000 Ar for newcomers, and 3 000 Ar/ semester for those already members.

I had a great time chatting with them. They were very cool and talkative. I think it’s great that many people now ; are eager to learn and speak english. As english clubs , all of us are unique in our own ways. We should come together and become a huge family .

Joining a club is very important. It makes you a better person and you can make new friends. I never regretted it and encourage all of you who likes the english language to join any english clubs of your choice.

My Favourite Festivity ” FAMADIHANA”

The “Famadihana” is one of the Malagasy customs which I love the most of all festivities. Each person has their own definition of the famadihana . Some say that it’s the turning of the bones of the dead (ancestors) and others say that it means to remove the remains of the dead body to another place. For me, Famadihana means the best moment when the entire family from far or near to gather together. Having the chance to know the other huge family members. This prevents the close family from marrying each other; in case they meet in another place or country. Sharing the latest news between the families. It’s also the remembrance of our dead loved ones that is buried inside of the cold family tombs.

I can say that I was very lucky to be able to have the chance to attend the Famadihana many times in my life. I’d like to share my personal experience. I went to my countryside in Ambatolampy; more precisley near Tsiafajavona Ankaratra. I was really excited about it. I didn’t notice the uncomfortable car ride and dusty road. This exhumation ceremony ” Famadihana” requires alot of preparation; and alot of money saving too.

First of all; the family needs to gather and decide on a special date to do the Famadihana. They need to see a “Mpanandro” or astrologer to choose the right date and prepare the ancestors about the exhumation. This is very important because if we don’t do this. Alot of things might go wrong. Usually, the Famadihana lasts about three days. There were so many activities that occurred those days. I remembered that they killed a huge” zebu”. It was a sad thing to see the animal die that way. After eating the ” vary be menaka” or fat rice. You totally forgotten what happened to it. We call it fat rice , because after pouring the fatty beef on top of the rice. It gives the rice an oily and fatty look. It’s delicious!!!! Nothing special mixed with it. I ate half a bucket; it was a great. How can I forget the wonderful performance of the “Mpihira gasy” which is a group of people who sing Malagasy traditional songs. It’s so different from the kind of music you hear in the city. They’re not only singing but in their songs are alot of ” Anatra” as us Malagasy people call it. By listening to them ; we can learn alot of wise teachings. I like also watching the “Mpihaingo” which are some young single girls; dressed in the countryside outfits; with the red blushes on their cheeks. Yes; a nice countryside fashion show. What really impresses me is little and young talented boy who dance in a very different way. When the spectators are satisfied they throw money or coins on the ground. By the end of the show the Mpihira gasy’s hats are filled with money.

As we know it’s the eldest or the head of the family and other members have to go and announce the family’s visit to the family tomb. Even if our ancestors are dead; we still believe that they can hear us. That’s why we can’t just go there and open up the tomb. There are some rituals that must be done. They go there very early in the morning; the Astrologer  will call the ancestors’ attention , preparing them to make sure the corpse will be easily recognized for the shroud renewal. At the end of the speech , the visitors took some “Toaka gasy” which is a Malagasy made alcoholic beverage. They share it with the dead by pouring some on the tomb. The special moment came when all the close relatives of the dead or of all family members, sang and danced on their way to the tomb; not forgetting the national flag. When we finally arrived , they started to dig. As it was the exhumation of my grand father. I dared to enter the tomb. We had to crawl in a underground hole to get the corpse. I wasn’t terrified to be surrounded by corpses. Each dead was placed in a corner of his own shelf. Some of their shrouds were already torn. What I saw was decayed bodies and bones. It made me more curious to get a closer look. So this is how us human beings look like after death.  What I couldn’t support was the atmosphere inside; which was very hot and suffocating. I couldn’t stay long. The men took out the corpses with the mat calling each one by their names. The close relatives carry the corpses around the tomb seven times at the rythm of a Malagasy folk song. So the women in the families; wrapped the corpses with the new shrouds. We can’t get rid of the old ones; because if we do the remains of the corpse will be everywhere. And that’s not easy to gather.

So before the sunset ; the astrologer makes a thanking note moves on a special ritual of locking the tomb.

Nowadays; as life seems more difficult. Only a few Malagasy people still do this exhumation ceremony. Some doesn’t do it because its against their religion. Whether we celebrate it or not, never forget that it’s our custom. Which makes us different from our countries. As Malagasy; I’m very proud to be able to have the chance and honor to celebrate this great festivity ” Famadihana”.

Why blogging about Africa

Why blogging about Africa; it’s a very good question. I think it’s very important to blog about this huge continent which is well known as one of the poorest in the world. There are lot of things that are happening in those countries inside of Africa that we don’t know about. Even if I’d never been there before; I believe that the entire world can learn more about the Life; Customs; Traditions, and internal life in Africa by bloggers. The mass media , sometimes can hide the truth from us; but us bloggers can show and tell the reality.

By blogging about Africa; we can help the continent develop and fight against poverty. It helps those people who are open handed , to reach out to the African population and offer what they can. The more we blog about it, people will learn and appreciate the uniqueness of Africa. As all other countries Africa crave to have a change too.