Everything you want to know about Madagascar and never dared to ask

Discover Madagascar On Line ! August 26, 2012

It finally happened !

The very last project I was working on was launched last Wednesday. My very first homemade webpage called Upptäck Madagaskar, which means “discover Madagascar”. I have been thinking of doing something related to Madagascar for a long time, besides my blog, and I finally got the opportunity and the precious help of two of my classmates Gabriel Gök and Christoffer Kindstedt. The website is in Swedish, but there is a google translate button for the English version. I know,it is not the most reliable, but it´s better than nothing.

Upptäck Madagaskar

So, if you are curious and willing to learn even more on Madagascar, pay me a visit! And if you like it, like it on Facebook and spread the good news.

Veloma !


Three New Friends in a Day May 15, 2012

 Sometimes I feel really blessed. Maybe I have guardian angels  that lead me to the right place and the right persons.

Two months ago, I went to a seminar organized by Stockholm University at the Stockholm Resilience Center. They had invited the very famous lead singer Hanitra Rasoanaivo of the Malagasy band Tarika Be.

I had no idea who she was and that she was coming to Stockholm. I just got the information thanks to a friend, whom I thank eternally. She will certainly recognize herself. After I read the program of the seminar I thought I must be there.  I was a little worried not to find the place and to go by myself, but I thought to myself; it is usually when you are alone that you are open to new things and encounters. What a surprise it turned out to be!



I came to the Stockholm Resilience Center forty-five minutes in advance and not really knowing what to do I just sat at a table and started working with my laptop. I could not help listening to the two people sitting next to me. They were preparing their common presentation on Madagascar and they wanted to end it by saying “Misaotra be!” (“Thank you so much” in Malagasy). When I heard them I just looked at them and nodded. “Yes, it was the correct phrase”. The lady said to me with a smile: “I knew you were Malagasy!”

Let me open a parenthesis. Once you have been in Madagascar or met someone from Madagascar, it is very easy to recognize another Malagasy. They can look different, they can be dark or fair skinned, they can look Asian, Indian or African, but their eyes never lie. Malagasy eyes are very special. This is why the lady could tell. Parenthesis closed.

Hanitra Rasoanaivo came finally. I was just keeping myself busy. I did not think she would see me, but after she had greeted the organizers, she came to me and presented herself. She asked me in Malagasy if I were from Madagascar and I responded “Yes!” in my clumsy Malagasy. I told her that it would be easier to speak in French. I always feel so stupid not being able to make a conversation in a fluent Malagasy.

She was so nice and friendly that I felt like I knew her for ages.  Then the other young lady I had named joined us. Her name was Maria and she also started to ask me lots of things about me. She was very surprised to hear me speaking Swedish. Hey, nobody´s perfect. I must be the only one who can be proud of speaking several foreign languages and forgetting my own mother tongue!

As I already said I felt really lucky, because those kinds of encounters would never have happened in France. There are thousands of Malagasy immigrants living there and I would just be a number among the others. But here in Stockholm I don´t have to make any effort. People just come to me! It was the same thing when Kilema was in Stockholm. I have become like the involuntary ambassador for my homeland. Despite the distance, I have never been so closer to my origins. I moved to Sweden for I wanted to be free from all the French or Malagasy traditions, but now that I am here, I realize that those traditions are a part of me and I kind of like it.  I try to see the good in both sides.

The main topics of the seminar were Madagascar, music and sustainability. Hanitra told us about how it all began for her, about her childhood and her life as an international artist and her life back to Madagascar. She founded the Antshow Cultural center to promote Malagasy arts and artists as well as exchanges between artists from all over the world. Since she is deeply engaged in environmental issues, she uses her skills as a songwriter to address the government and the Malagasy people.

Among the speakers there were also a few Swedish scientists who had spent several months studying agriculture, demographics and the traditions of the people in the South of Madagascar.




When the seminar was finished the party started and I am so glad I stayed, because I made new acquaintances. The first person I met was a Malagasy man who had come too late and missed the seminar. He already knew Hanitra, so he went to her greeted her. Then he saw me and asked me, as it often happens when a Malagasy meets another Malagasy, if I came from Madagascar. Yes, I did! His name was Sylvain and after a few minutes talking we found out that we had a common friend and that I had met his wife on another occasion. It´s a small world.

Hanitra, Maria the woman I named before  and a “tall and white girl with white hair”  joined the conversation. I had so much fun. Maria and Anna the tall told us about the way the ethnic group Antandroy  (see farther south on the map below) communicated. Very peculiar and so far away from the Merina, the ethnic group whom I belong to.


from Lexique population (pdf document)

Let me explain. When I write “tall and white girl with white hair” I do not mean to insult the girl in question, but it is just, as I was told, the way the Antandroy people called her for real when she lived among them. For them, it was so exotic and so new to meet such a woman. But, Anna told us that they gradually got accustomed to her.

I have never had so much fun that day talking with people I barely knew and I felt so happy.

Before I left we exchanged our visit cards. Anna wants to speak Malagasy again. And I hope I will get to know Hanitra better next time she comes to Stockholm.

To be followed…



More information:

Stockholm Resilience Center:

Tarika Be my space:

Antshow Madagascar:


About Hanitra Rasoanaivo:

Tarika’s Hanitra Rasoanaivo talks with Michal Shapiro about music, politics and life in Madagascar:

Tarika Be – Wikipedia:

Tarika on Afrisson:

Tarika- BBC:


Espérance Marianina Still Hoping for More January 30, 2012

Filed under: Children,Family,Non-Profit,Nyheter — madakanto @ 9:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today I will be the spkokeswoman for Espérance Marianina Madagascar. You already know that I care a lot about children and especially about those from Madagascar.
As I promised to report regularly on the situation, it is time for me now to share with you the latest achievements of EMM.

Madagascar is very well known for its endemic fauna and flora but also for its poverty. Kids who live in the countryside do not have as many opportunities than kids from the city and their future cannot be more uncertain. When my cousin Arlette Ramiliarijaona discovered Marianina and its children she suddenly had a good reason for fighting and helping her homeland. Me too by the same occasion.

Espérance Marianina Madagascar has been working for already four years and it has been a great success indeed.
One of the most important goals was to supply the children of Marianina with nourishing and balanced meals allowing them to grow both physically and intellectually. Before the canteen opened in 2006 the truancy rate had reached almost 50% during the hot season (December until March). But this year the rate decreased to 8%.

Here are some of the things they accomplished:

–  opened a school canteen which serves meals from December 1st to late April (wet/hot season)
–  constructed a dining hall that can be used as a multipurpose hall when they do not need the canteen
–  purchased furniture for the dining hall
–  planted hundreds of fruit trees and started growing vegetables

A few words from Arlette:

“Hope. Without hope it is impossible for us and our wonderful volunteers to continue fighting for the children´s well-being. No hope, no success. And this is an everyday work.
But, we could not have done so much without the help and compassion of our generous donors and I would like to thank you again and send you all my gratitude for your valuable support.”

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If you have ANY  QUESTION or information or if you want to send money, Please contact me.



Jan Eliasson: Sexual Violence on the Way to Water December 6, 2011

Filed under: Non-Profit — madakanto @ 1:23 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Just read this great article Jan Eliasson: Sexual Violence on the Way to Water by Jan Eliasson and wrote about his work for Water Aid Sweden.

If you understand Swedish, you can visit my class´collective blogg Bloggflocken and read

It is not directly related to Madagascar, but somehow yes, because it is about water, the lack of water in almost all the poorest countries in the world. We are so lucky  here in the Western Europe not havint to worry about finding water, but in Africa for example, it just can a be very dangerous activity for the women implied.


There is only one thing to do. Support Water Aid !



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