According to a tale from the province of Farafangana and published by Charles Renel in Tales of Madagascar at the beginning of the last century, two men of different tribes who benefited from unrivalled reputations, fell into jealous competition with and fought each other until the death of each of them. In remembrance of this duel between the land and the sea, the site of this heroic combat was namedMalitanana , which in Malagasy means "to die while holding hands".
Beyond this moral of this tale and the tragic destiny of the two men, is it still perilous to try to establish a top ten of the most influential Malagasy personalities today?
In order to measure the international reputation of the Malagasy, it is possible to use Facebook as a measuring stick, with its criterion of celebrity corresponding to those people who obtain more than 10,000 "likes" on their home page.
Yet, in spite of their popularity on this leader among social networks, what do the names Zay, Ambondrona or Mahaleo mean to you? Small towns lost in the bush? The names of local specialities?
The most well-known brand on this famous network, "Bonbon Anglais", owes its success to its trailblazing community management right from the beginnings of Facebook in Madagascar... In contrast, visibility on Facebook does not always follow the facts and the news, especially when it comes to the political scene... since it is Marc Ravalomana, the former President of Madagascar, who arrives at the top of the list!
So, let's turn our attention to some recognised artists, who are perhaps less popular but are certainly far more interesting. Why not commission Pierrot Men, a photographer of Franco-Malagasy and Chinese descent who lives in Fianarantsoa, to express himself on the question by means of a photo essay on the people of this island that he is so passionate about?
Transforming everyday life with poetry and humanism, from the streets of Tana to the remote villages of the bush, he manages to capture all the courage and dignity of a society marked by misery and corruption.
He captures intimate moments through chiaroscuros which soften the harshness of life with candour and sobriety. By opening yourself to his personal vision, you will put your finger on the real pulse of the Big Red Island...
When I am asked about well-known Malagasies, I immediately recall the figureheads of the independence of Madagascar. These inevitably include Gisele Rabesahala, the first Malagasy women elected to the Municipal Council of Antananarivo, or Jacques Rabemanjara, the playwright, poet and politician who belonged to the literary and ideological movement known as "Negritude", which was initiated by black francophone intellectuals.
In another vein, the musician Erick Manana also pays tribute to the daily life of the Malagasy people, gently rocking us with his lyrical ballads and pop melodies.
Jean-Luc Raharimanana, famous for his texts that use the legends and superstitions of the past to illustrate contemporary history, has also reconstructed the memory of Madagascar by the force of his words alone.
The list of personalities who have given an international voice to the historical, political, cultural or literary wealth of Madagascar could go on and on... But if you think about it, beyond this competition of names and achievements, hasn't the country found its own place in the world through the uniqueness of its flora and fauna?
The Big Island has founded its singular, firmly established reputation on the extreme diversity of its territory. Through his work, Albert Rakoto Ratsimamanga, a pioneer of science, was the first to pay tribute to the therapeutic virtues of the flora of Madagascar, placing Man at the heart of a privileged relationship with nature. A vital interaction for a harmonious and respectful equilibrium...