Malagasy Musings

So, I’ve been at site just about 1 and a half, made it through Krismasy and New Years Eve and now working into my first full year at Tsarazaza in Madagascar! It’s very exciting to think that I have the whole year ahead of me to experience amazing things. And while there is lots to be said about it all, I think for now I will just focus on some thoughts I’ve had momba ny culture Malagasy. While it’s not complete by any means and it is certainly a skewed view, it somewhat reflects my experience so far eto Madagasikara.
One thing that has become apparent to me is that Mcar is a culture of inclusion. There is a concept of ownership, but in general terms everything is shared. It is fomba to say “Mandrosoa!” when someone passes by your house, inviting them in. When you are eating food at a hotely, you say “Manasa” to other people as they come in to share your food. This fomba extends in such a way that you simply respond “Misaotra!” or “Mazatoa!” (Thank You and Enjoy), and the people actually don’t come in or share your food. But it’s concept…I’ve seen a child with a small piece of bread split it into tiny pieces and pass it on to the large group of children surrounding her. The inclusion extends in other ways too; I listened to the village play a game with the local “crazy man”–sort of a “Marco Polo” type thing. When you are talking to someone in the road, and a drunk man passes by, decides to join in because you are vazaha, he is greeted with patience and allowed to join the conversation (which I’d rather he not!) regardless of whether he makes sense or not.
The village is that way. Everyone looks after everyone else. Everytime I see Cynthia, a different child is looking after her, but her parents need never worry where she is at and whether she is okay. She is looked after as all the children are.
It is hard to see the ways of a culture when you are in it, and I am definitely still learning so much. It is hard to think I’ve been here only 4 months…my life in the states seems so far away…

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