Madagascar is a huge island located off the Southeast coast of Africa. As I go further in my essay I will explain many important facts and statements about this amazing and interesting island called Madagascar. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, it is located in the Indian Ocean 250 miles off the Eastern coast of Africa across the Mozambique channel, just south of the equator. As of 2017, the population of Madagascar is around 26 million including 18 different ethnic groups.
The culture that I will be focusing on in this essay will be Malagasy.Despite all of the different racial backgrounds the Malagasy people share a common culture and language. The Malagasy gives clues to its Asian origin.
The language spoken in Borneu. The Malagasy language also has some Bantu and Swahili words. “The Asian-African origin of the island’s people has led to a unique and distinctive society, with a complex set of beliefs and customs. One of the central beliefs is in the power of dead ancestors (razana).
Their spirits are believed to be active in looking after their descendants in a variety of ways. And their wishes are therefore to be respected and obeyed. This means that families and communities have various taboos/don’ts (known as fady) regarding the avoidance of certain actions, to ensure the approval of the razana. Under the traditional beliefs, practised by around half the people, there is one God who is neither male or female. Some people also worship secondary gods or nature spirits, such as those which inhabit rivers or trees. Other Malagasy have been converted to Christianity, with a small number of Muslims (mainly on the west coast). However, even among converts there is a reverence for traditional rituals.
..” (“People & Culture”). As I learned about their beliefs about life and death, the interesting thing about dying in comparison to life and death here in the U.S. is that they are just about the same.
As I think about this it reminds me from when my grandparents passed away and we called it a homegoing celebration because we knew that they were on their way to heaven. Even though we cried we knew where they would end up. That’s why we called their passing a homegoing celebration. One thing that I did notice as I did my research is that after being buried for seven years the body is removed from the tomb. The remains are wrapped in a new burial cloth and the celebration can last up to a week. This is called “The Turning of the Bones” or the famadihana. Styles and fashion for the men of Malagasy are normally the traditional dress which involves wearing the lamba.
Lamba simply means cloth or clothing but usually refers to two matching pieces of fabric that women wear. One around the head or shoulders. The lamba is not so uncommon to see old men wearing it in rural areas of madagascar. The older women of Madagascar are usually seen wearing it. Also the Muslim women are often seen wearing it too.
Often the main dishes of find that is eaten by the malagasy would be rice with everything to included such meals as romazava, ravitoto, varanga, sesika, vorivorin-kena, smalona, lasary, khimo and kabaro. Vegetables they usually eat are beans, carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers, potatoes and a variety of greens. Fruits they eat are apples, bananas, citrus fruits, coconuts, guavas, mangoes, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, plums, pineapples, and strawberries. They are also very well known for their vanilla and pepper. The climate is dominated in the southeastern trade winds that originate in the Indian Ocean anticyclone, a center of high atmospheric pressure that seasonally changes its position over the ocean. Madagascar has two seasons which are hot, rainy season from November to April and a dry, cooler season from May to October.
“Madagascar has been an isolated island for around 70 million years, breaking away first Africa around 165 million years ago and then from India nearly 100 million years later. This isolation led to the development of a unique flora and fauna, with 90 percent of its wildlife found only in Madagascar. Among its extinct mammals were giant flightless birds and dwarf hippos. Across Madagascar, lemurs are often revered and protected by cultural taboo. Many origin myths make some connection between lemurs and humans, usually through common ancestry. As of 2012, there were 103 living species and subspecies of lemur, almost all classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered.
There are also several species of extinct lemurs- including a giant lemur.” (Smith 1) “The first humans to settle in Madagascar came from the island of Borneo, which is now divided between the countries of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. They arrived between 350 BCE and 550 CE in canoes, and weren’t joined by mainland Africans until almost 500 years later. Over time, other African, Asian and European settler groups arrived, each bringing their own unique contributions to the culture of the island. Queen Ranavalona III, the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar, ruled from 1883 to 1897 before being deposed by French colonial forces. She was named after a previous powerful queen, Queen Ranavalona I, who ruled from 1828 to 1861 and attempted to protect the sovereignty of her country against European influence.
” (Smith 2). “There are several plant species that can be used as herbal remedies. For example, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and other cancers can be treated by the drugs vinblastine and vincristine, which are derived from the Madagascar periwinkle. Madagascar was a popular resting place for European pirates and traders between the late 1700s and early 1800s, and was rumored to be the site of the independent pirate nation of Libertalia, which may or may not have existed. According to the story pirates renounced their national identities and called themselves Liberi, making their own system of government and law. They waged war against states and lawmakers, releasing prisoners and freeing slaves.” (Smith 3). “Human rights in Madagascar are protected under the constitution, and the state has signed agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities are legally protected, and freedom of assembly is also guaranteed. State repression and torture are low, and there is an ongoing effort of eliminate corruption in the security forces. Foods eaten in Madagascar reflect the influence of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European migrants that have settled on the island. The cornerstone of the diet is rice- in fact, the word “to eat” in Malagasy is mihinam-bary, which means “to eat rice.” Rice and local food sources were added to by East African migrants, Arab and Indian merchants, and European transatlantic traders.
In modern Malagasy cuisine, garlic, onions, ginger, tomatoes, curry, coconut milk, vanilla, cloves and turmeric are common flavorings. Zebu, a kind of African cattle, is a common meat, and peanuts, greens, bananas and rum all feature prominently. Madagascar is among the world’s main suppliers of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang, and also a major supplier of coffee, lychees and shrimp.” (Smith 4)