Learn Malagasy, get to know Madagascar
Our Madagascar top 10
We at Tribalingual are incredibly excited to share with you our brand new course – Explorer Malagasy! In this one post we share with you our top 10 of Madagascar: its nature, language, trade and traditions! It’s time to get excited about your travels.
Central Madagascar is home to Andringitra National Park, where explorers can find challenging mountain peaks to climb, as well as diverse flora and fauna in the forests. There are also three groups of people living in the national park, with different livelihoods. The Bara people raise cattle, the Bara Haronga grow rice and the Betsileo have developed an irrigation system on the mountainside.
Lemurs exist in the wild in Madagascar, so this is the place to see them! You can find them in national parks, such as Montagne d’Ambre Park and Ankarana Special Reserve. Go on, find out if they do really have such great dance moves!
- Isalo national park
Visit Isalo national park and see it all, from natural beauty to tribal footprints. You can trek past sandstone formations and hot springs, and meet monkeys in the deep canyons. You can also find the tombs of the Sakalava tribe, decorated with expressive statuettes.
- Malagasy Word order
The Eastern variant of Malagasy is one of the most widely spoken languages in Madagascar. To prep you for your Malagasy language course, you should know that Malagasy has a Verb-Object-Subject word order. Of course, this differs from English, but is actually common in Austronesian and Turkic language groups, and can been seen in languages such as Italian, which change word order to emphasise either action, subject or object of a sentence. So, repeat after me, “sat on the mat, the cat.”
- Malagasy Diaspora – AfroPeruvians
Did you know that Malagasy is not spoken in Madagascar alone? There is significant diaspora in France, Belgium and also Peru. This is due to slavery. A group of Afro-Peruvians are particularly active in the Catholic Church in Peru. Who knows, you Malagasy language skills may come in useful on your travels to Europe and South America!
- Antsirabe crafts
Antsirabe is a highland town, surrounded by farmland. It is known for its traditional crafts, which are created using recycled waste – the people throw nothing away. For example, model bikes are created using bottle caps and pieces of wire, and the horn of the Zebu (bred for its meat in the town) is used to fashion works of art – nothing goes to waste! Fabric embroidery is also very popular in the town.
Madagascar’s Vanilla coast is surprisingly a fairly untouched region for tourists, and the facilities and infrastructure here are not as developed as elsewhere in the island. However, this affords a unique visit, where you can get to know the place and the people first hand. Mananara National Park, as well as Aye-Aye Island and Nosy Atafana are the places to go to experience the scent of vanilla lingering in the sea air.
It is traditional in the Malagasy highlands that every seven years, families exhume the bodies of their dead relatives. Known as ‘the turning of bones’ in English, this tradition follows the belief that a deceased soul only joins the afterlife after many years and ceremonies such as these. They wrap the corpse in fresh linen to music, and hold ceremonies full of dancing, feasting and reflection. It can be arranged for tourists to join families in their revelling, so if you fancy it you can attend!
As John wrote in his Tribalingual blog post, the Malagasy people have various superstitions and taboos (fady). To go hand in hand with our love of lemurs, we are obviously fans of the taboo that forbids killing a Lemur. If you want to keep those angatra away, you had better refrain from choosing a Lemur for lunch!
John also told us about Angatra (demons in Malagasy), which are known to haunt their own graves and bring misfortune to those who stumble across them. You might encounter a kinoly, a type of demon which roams public areas at night wailing. You can recognise them from their long nails and red eyes!
We hope you are as excited as we are about our course launch, and that you are looking forward to learning Malagasy ahead of your trip to this wonderful place!