Madagascar National Day

July 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Posted in madagascar, musings, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The long pause since my last post was not an indication that it had all gone wrong… instead I moved “up country” to stay with my friends Peter and Clairelise who work in the Good News Hospital in Mandritsara. Rural Madagascar doesn’t have wifi and then while I was in the rain forest, I was too chilled out to write! I am now safely back in London, adjusting to the UK summer (which is colder than the Madagascan winter!) and getting back into the swing of things at work. But i did promise that I would share some more views on my time in Madagascar – so here is the first of a couple of post-holiday round ups (all with a food theme!)

The plan for my time in Mandritsara was pretty simple – I would hang out with the family, and do a bit of looking after the girls when they were both at work  and generally share in their world. There was no major pre-planned entertainment other than Madagascar’s National Day which celebrates Madagascar’s independence from France.

National Day is celebrated on 26 June, and is generally referred to by the date “vingt-six”. It was a privilege to join in the celebrations and feel a little bit part of the party! On the Monday evening there was a procession through the town with lanterns with a chant in Malagasy which was all about the lanterns burning. But thanks to modern progress, the chant now has a new verse about non-burning lanterns, which were slightly safer Chinese manufactured light-up toys. I am not entirely sure of the background of the march, but it felt a little like a rolling Bonfire Night without many fireworks (and a lot warmer!)Image

On National Day itself, we (with a number of the other Europeans working at the hospital) were invited to a Malagasy home to join in their celebrations.  At the centre of the celebrations was the food! It was great spread. Most notable would be the salad laid out like the Madagascar flag. The staple carbohydrate in Madagascar, served at all meals, is rice, so we obviously ate lots of that.  We also contributed to the feast by bringing some cakes, which we had decorated with mini Madagascar flImageags.

It was a lovely day. The sun shone. We all enjoyed the food, and also discussion around the nature of national celebrations in different countries. I attempted to explain the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations and what a “street party” is. After lunch we were entertained by some traditional singing and dancing. We were encouraged to join in…. but the less said about that the better!

Vingt-six was definitely a highlight of the trip, and I am grateful that I was able to share in the celebrations. I also think that it is brilliant that food sits at the heart of the celebration worldwide!


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