Majunga (Mahajanga)

“A place that heals”

On le front de mer de Majunga, Madagascar

In the plane approaching Amborovy airport, the passenger's gaze is intrigued, through his porthole, by an immense reddish stain on the blue of the sea without get merge. It is the blood of the earth, carried to its immense delta near Majunga by the river Betsiboka already swollen upstream by an infinity of runs and runoffs, all of which contribute to the haemorrhage. On the index of course, a deforestation denounced at the entrance of the Park of Ankarafantsika 70 miles from the City of Flowers, by 12 sculptures made intentionally in precious wood seized on traffickers.

Dhow au port de Majunga, Madagascar

The elders are formal, the recovered name of Mahajanga is not a malgachisation of the French Majunga. Among the versions relayed by a rich oral tradition is that of a lord whose son would have been saved by a Portuguese doctor established in the city. His exclamation "Mahajanga ankitiny ity tanàna ity" (it is really a place that heals!) has passed to posterity. As for the Portuguese, the story relate that he would have asked one of his neighbors named Boana Oumar, a native of East Africa and repairman of boats, to careen elsewhere because his hammer is disturbing his occupation. Thus was born The village of Boanamary, there at the mouth of the river...

dugout canoe on the beach of Antsanitia, Madagascar

Majunga has a distinctive character with its islets of Muslim architecture, its houses of another era, its Indian shops with the doors worked, its salutary arcades when the sun reputed generous is at its zenith. Alongside the quasi-permanence of the fine weather and the conveniences of access, the August vacationers will find to their coup de coeur a series of other good reasons with often as common the simple pleasures. Katsepy for example, reached after a peaceful crossing in ferry, a kind of natural screen to which one starts to imagine other utilities in the unlikely event of... tsunami! The Corniche rehabilitated and embellished, impossible to circumvent the place of rendezvous of the evening where one finds then everything from tasty grills to this pancake based coco called "boatamo". The Red Ciscus, an unpredictable fairytale of nature with its range of clays in the colors of the rainbow. Tour operators will talk more and more about the coastline of Ampazoana and Antsanitia as the true engine of international tourism in Majunga, and some scientists will be sorry that dinosaur fossils discovered in the Berivotra. But beauty can also be underground with the caves of Andranoboka near the mouth of the Mahajamba, the vaults of their immense rooms, their concretions ranging from the finest needles to the thick pillars of several meters.

With the Fanompoambe which mobilizes its diaspora of the whole world, Majunga has the exact counterpart of Fitampoha. The relics of the 4 Andriamisara brothers, sovereigns of the kingdom of Boina, are made up of their jaws and a vertebra. During a colorful ceremony full of ritual obligations, which one is not always to penetrate the right foot into the sacred enclosure, they are bathed in the blood of a bull and carried 7 times around their "zombabe" before being locked again. The problem is that their guard has always been claimed by two equally legitimate clans, but this is another story about to become a small tradition in the great ...

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Coco Lodge

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