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An update from Evaneos
Madagascar

Politeness, practices and attitude

Madagascar is an island that dispels indifference and catches hold of the traveller with its unique personality. An island of contrasts, you have to take the time to adjust to its pace and its vivid traditions. A mixture of excitement and mystery, going against all our certainties, this authentic land deserves our attention as much as it gives to those who pass through it. 

Fady: the taboos associated with each Malagasy ethnic group

In a country marked by ancestral beliefs and the worship of ancestors, it may seem like there are many prohibitions and they vary from one Malagasy ethnic group to another. Certain behaviour or the consumption of specific foods will be perceived as irreverent, even though the Malagasy people definitely will not point it out to you. Be sure to ask advice from your guide or an authority from the village as soon as you get close to places of worship.

On the coast for example, bathing while wearing red clothes is seen as a call to sharks. In other places, pointing a finger in a sacred site is seen as a lack of respect towards the ancestors' souls.

In any case, ask the Malagasy questions about their local customs .

The modesty of the Malagasy people and the fear of being humiliated

Despite very modest living conditions, the Malagasy are quick to smile and offer sincere hospitality. Nevertheless, hidden behind this unparalleled hospitality is great modesty. So avoid showing affection or anger in public, because you'll make the locals uncomfortable.

The Malagasy have a kind nature, and they rarely say "no" to travellers' requests, due to a deep fear of upsetting them. Therefore, you have to be extra tactful and not make impossible or difficult request, which would put your hosts in delicate situations.

Not encouraging begging

Malagasy children often solicit tourists: for candy, soap or used clothes, and their appeals can be difficult to refuse. Choose however to make donations to local organisations, to village patriarchs you come across or to religious authorities. The disorganised influx of gifts can disrupt the social hierarchy of a village not to mention create jealousy between families.

Aline Gernay
6 contributions
Updated 17 September 2015
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