"let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad."

- Psalm 97:1


About the Malagasy People of Madagascar

A mixture of Asians and Africans, these remarkable people have inhabited Madagascar for 1500 to 2000 years. Stone artifacts even suggest that an older culture possibly existed there. Most of the immigrants were Malay-Polynesians, who crossed the Indian Ocean from Indonesia and Southeast Asia, but people came from eastern Africa as well. African slaves, Arab, Indian and Portuguese traders, European pirates and French colonists all mixed with the population to eventually create the 18 official tribes or clans inhabiting the island today. The first Malagasy brought the food crops that they'd grown in South-East Asia with them, and the agricultural regions with their endless rice paddies today look as if they belong in Asia rather than Africa. Marco Polo reported Madagascar's existence in the narrative of his travels. Early Middle-Eastern maps also indicate that Arab cartographers knew it as well.

While Madagascar officially shares one culture and language, the Malagasy people are divided into 18 tribes whose boundaries are based on old kingdoms rather than ethnic characteristics. The Malagasy language belongs to the Austronesian language family, which includes Indonesian and many Polynesian languages, and its closest linguistic cousin is spoken on southern Borneo. It has also adopted words from French, Arabic, nearby African languages as well as English.

The regional town of Fianarantsoa has developed into a literary capital of sorts in recent years, and several contemporary novelists and writers work there. While literature didn't really flower until the 1930s and 40s, traditional oratory, called kabary, is highly regarded. Kabary's roots are in early political assemblies, in which each speaker spoke in turn. It evolved and was eventually popularized and extended to the general public as a form of entertainment. Kabary is an integral part of hira gasy, popular spectacles that include music, dancing and story telling, held regularly in Tana on most Sunday afternoons.

Around 50% of Malagasy follow traditional religions and even many non-religious still devoutly carry out traditional practices. The Malagasy regard the dead with awe and reverence, and give the afterlife as much importance as the present; the dead play a role in the life of the living rarely seen in other cultures. Mourners carry out elaborate rituals at funerals, and if it is deemed that the dead are displeased, further rituals are enacted to appease them. The most famous of these is the famadihana, or turning of the bones, when the dead are exhumed, entertained, talked to and reburied with gifts and new shrouds. There are several Muslim communities, and Muslims comprise about 7% of the population.


MYRIAME MOSA, along with her husband JUSTIN, are responsible for the new Malagasy translation of The Words.

Myriame writes the following in a recent Email…


Dear Lee, The translation of The Words is coming along fine. It's really a vivid transcription of the Bible…I am just thrilled when thinking of the impact The Words will have on my people, particularly people in the countryside in Madagascar.

In His service with great joy,

Myriame MOSA

For further information or to contact the translator by Email write: mijocla@dts.mg

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- Madagascar, Island of the Ancestors: John Mack's ethnographic study, a superb overview of Malagasy culture.

- A History of Madagascar: Mervyn Brown's readable history of the island.

- Madagascar - A Natural History by Ken Preston-Mafham: a large book with numerous photos and enlightening text.


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