Saturday, 22 September 2007

Evil Twins

I've mentioned the tradition of fadies... everywhere you go you have to consider these fadies or taboos if you don't want to be in trouble with the locals. Another very bizarre custom we've come across in the Mananjary region is a phobia of twins.

Twins are evil and a bad omen, that's at least what the Antambahoaka tribe believes. Still today, a woman giving birth to twins has to abandon her kids at birth - in the woods or in a little floating basket on the river...

A weird custom in this day and age - so Léa and I did a little investigation on this subject, though lacking time we couldn't visit the local orphanage specifically for these twins.

We did however find out that a few hundred years ago a fire devastated an Antambahoaka village. A mother of twins fled with one of her babies, only to realize that she had left the other one behind. So she rushed back to get the twin, but didn't make it and died in the flames. Ever since the Antambahoaka has rejected twins as a sign of misfortune.

I'll have to come back one day to dig deeper.

Another interesting Antambahoaka custom is the mass circumcision ceremonies, known as Sambatra, that take place every seven years in Mananjary. 2007 is again one such year, but unfortunately we were four weeks early. We were told that the place goes mad. Frank Kuklinski from the Deutsche Welthungerhilfe told me he's had to introduce additional holidays for this period, because no one even thinks of working during this time.

The whole place is booked out - years in advance, Mananjarians from all over the country head back home for these festivities. And it's not only Mananjarians who flock to this quiet backwater town on the Eastern coast... Lea's RNM (Radio Nationale Malagasy) relocates for a week of special programming to this seaside resort... and we've even met a Polish TV crew who came down all the way from Warsaw to witness this circumcision spectacle.

Forgot to ask this gentleman if he got circumcised too, but seeing that this picture was taken on the beach of Mananjary there's a pretty good chance...


Anonymous 20 January 2011 at 01:08  

What a great resource!

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