Madagascar: Community, Identity and the Malagasy diaspora

Malagasy familyAs it is sometimes the case for sub-Saharan African nations, the Malagasy diaspora carries a substantial weight of the cultural, political and virtual activities related to Madagascar. In the World Wide Web, the bandwidth limitation is a major encumbrance to a larger participation of bloggers from Madagascar in the global conversation.
Still, the Malagasy blogosphere as a whole has steadily grown from its debut a decade ago when only a handful of bloggers were actively telling stories. The Malagasy blogosphere now spans the globe from Ho Chi Minh City to Vancouver with the usual strongholds in Antananarivo, Paris, Rome, Geneva, DC and Montréal. Bloggers converse in Malagasy, French, English or Italian. The Blogosphere has also grown with respect to topic of interests and nature of the conversation. Nowdays, you can find Malagasy weblogs that would be defined as activists, other as observers. Some blogs are more personal, other communitarian.
However, the conversation would often return to the question of cultural identity, especially for the communities located overseas.
A large meeting was recently organized in Washington, DC inviting all Malagasy in North-America to a friendly competition in different sporting events.

The meeting was a resounding success. It also started a conversation on how different the Malagasy community in North-America is from the Malagasy community based in Europe.
Sipakv states that:

“ll y a beaucoup d’opinions negatives sur les Gasy d’Andafy sur le web et la blogosphere, je ne vais pas reprendre les arguments repris ailleurs, de toute facon, en general, je suis de l’avis que si on n’a pas de bonnes choses a dire, mieux vaut se taire… »

There are a lot of negative opinions of the Malagasy diaspora on the web. I will not repeat the arguments heard here and there. In any case, generally speaking, I am of the opinion that if you do not have anything positive to say, you are better off not speaking at all…”

Sipakv adds:

“This said I have to agree that the Malagasy communities I have found here in the US (cannot speak for the Canadian one as I don’t know it very well), are vastly different from the Malagasy in France. Maybe it is due to its reduced size, maybe it is due to our environment, maybe it is due to the background of most Gasies who have ended up here, who knows?
I, for one, have found our Malagasies here to have a less elitist state of mind and to be more tsotsotra ( author’s translation: easygoing) If you disagree with me, you Canadians or other Be Kintana (author’s translation: US residents), then you certainly have the right to do so and to comment on my observation. Something that has always fascinated me how our surroundings shape us…”

Tattum asks the Malagasy community what were the reasons for wanting to leave the country or deciding to go back:

“A ceux qui vivent à Madagascar depuis toujours, pourquoi vous (du moins certains) rêvez de partir?A ceux qui sont expatriés, pourquoi pensez-vous que vous ne reviendrez probablement pas vivre à Madagascar?A ceux qui sont loin, pourquoi voulez-vous rentrer à coup sûr? »

”To those who live in Madagascar, why would you (at least some) want to leave? To those who are expatriates, why do you think you probably would not return to live in Madagascar? To those who are far away, why would you want to return by all means?”

Hery who resides in Italy has a nice description of one of the idiosyncrasies of the Malagasy language as spoken by the youngsters nowdays. He writes in Malagasy:

“Ny teny hoe “Sady tsotra no simple” dia fomba fiteny anisan'ny tautologie ampiasain'ny tanora malagasy. Matoa izy mampiasa io teny io dia te-hanamafy bebe kokoa ny tena fahatsoran'ny zavatra lazainy. Tsy fanambaniana na fanamaivanan-javatra io fomba fiteny io fa efa “état d'âme” mihitsy.”

The phrase “ simple and easygoing” is a tautology used by Malagasy youngsters. They are using this figure of speech to emphasize their point. It is not to be mistaken with a condescending remark or a rhetoric to lighten a subject but to it really is a way to convey your mood of the moment.

Finally, Jogany and Harinjaka urge the community to participate in a fundraiser-blogathon for children in Madagascar on Sat. July, 28th.malagay.jpg


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