The capital of Menabe region

Sunset on l'allée of baobabs in Morondava, Madagascar

With their air of giants fallen on their heads, they are nicknamed the "roots of heaven". The baobabs also retained the land of Morondava to plant their true roots, from the small Adansonia Fony of only 16 ft, to the Adansonia Grandidieri culminating at 100 or 130 ft on the Avenue of the Baobabs. The leaves and fruits are boiled and can be used to make oil. The bark is used to make ropes, the sap goes into the preparation of the paper. Less is known about the other virtue of the baobabs: at 7 miles of Morondava, one of them of 1000 years old fell a few years ago. An old man from the neighboring village affirms it, the tree no longer exists but the soul of the ancestors who lived there is still there...

It was around 1860 that the first Franco-Malagasy cooperation in the field of shipbuilding and trade by sea was sketched. It was come down to a Breton carpenter and his three sons to introduce the schooner on the West Coast of Madagascar and it is still there, with for another date hinge 1913 which saw the opening of a workshop of naval carpentry in Morondava. With the original Indo-Arabic schooner "The Red Sea of Monfreid is not that far!" It has become a legacy transmitted from generation to generation among the Vezo whose materials used are the hardwoods of "nato" and "tanin'akanga". It is an unusual spectacle that, at low tide, schooners moored to a picket lie slowly on the flank as for a deserved nap. For little one would expect to hear them purr ...

Schooner in Morondava, Madagascar

Betania, a small fishing village south of Morondava. Let us leave the long distances to these ships guaranteeing the intoxication of the adventure rather than a comfort of which a very little be worried about, to return to the immutable outrigger canoe. Life resumes its course from sunrise, when the men of the sea slide their skiffs on the sand before hoisting the masts. Fishing techniques have remained the same with netting, trolling, and trident. Tying a tuna or swordfish is not always an easy task, forcing the fisherman to attach his nylon thread to the waist! The return in the late afternoon is a very colorful moment of life with the ribambelles of Children, the collectors, the wives many of whom wear their mask of beauty ocher color. It will be up to the women to go around the restaurants and markets of the city.

Morondava and this region of Menabe between Mangoky and Manambolo are not only the sea, even though the latter would be the nourishing hand. It is here that the Maroseranana established one of the two great sakalava kingdoms, whose relics of the sovereigns are religiously kept in their sanctuary in Belo on Tsiribihina. At the opening of each Fitampoha, they are transported by officiants in loincloth and bandeau red to Ampasy where they will stay a week in a "rivotse" of white cloth. The moon will then be full and the sun dying red, as if to add a touch of unreal to the throbbing sequence of songs, dances, traditional struggles. During the Bath of the Sacred Relics, highlight of the ceremony, it is forbidden to shoe or to cross the Tsiribihina river, in addition to other "Fomba" or rituals on which watch a protocol meticulous.

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Espace Mada, Baobab Café

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