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Favorite thing: So, how to get there ?
In Tana, tell your driver (I assume you, as a tourist, wouldn't drive, would you ?) that Malaza is very near to the Royal city of Ambohimanga, about 17 km from the city center. Tell him to pass through Sab-Nam (Sabotsy Namehana), Antsofinondry then Anosy Avaratra. Next village on his way to Ambohimaga is Lazaina (14 km). At this level, he should leave the main road to choose this exit to Lazaina. After some minutes, you'll have some dirty road. Look at this picture. If you go through a road edged by this brickwall, you are heading to Malaza (2-3 km from Lazaina). Then, you'll have to ask: Malaza is not so far, but one has to pay attention to where to pull out.
Fondest memory: Dusty winters
That's my memories of commuting there. Dirty roads necessarily lead to dust. Red soil dust, not black dust as in polluted cities. Still, it's not comfy to drive in countryside in winter (dry season), especially for those who suffer from allergy (to dust, to pollen.. whatever).
Updated Sep 14, 2007
Favorite thing: ..or, "Malaza ~ The reported origins"
A brief attempt at describing the origins of "Malaza". "Malaza" literally means "Well-known". For years, I've been wondering what our beloved village could be well-known for. I've looked around & compared my "Malaza" to other villages in the area. Nothing could make it well-known, at lesser extent, better known than the others. Seems, however, that it was some Royal prerogative which contributed int turning this adjective into a village name.
The Merina area has known intestine wars (between kings who ruled small kingdoms within the Merina area, "intestine" as, at times, Kings who rueled parts of Imerina area were brothers, cousins or anyway related in one way or another) when reportedly late King Andrianampoinimerina (?) from Ambohimanga noticed settlement works on plots of land which were not that far from "his" Blue Hill. As those plots were part of his territory, he asked some of his staff members to fetch information about the settlers & their settlement. For the settlement occuring during a war period, it should have been a real concern as safety had to be insured & surveillance had to be strict.
When Nampoina's messengers hit the area that is now known as the heart of Malaza, they saw nine persons to whom they addressed the message from the King urging them "to leave the area & not to play Mosalahy" [editor's note mosalah = adventurers]. The king informally entitled the village the nickname of "Mosalahy" [editor's note: probably to indicate the area where those he considered as Mosalahy, at first hand, resided]. To messengers, the settlers explained the plots had always belonged to them.
--to be continued--
Fondest memory: ... Upon reception of the report, Nampoina sent them back to Malaza to ask the then-settlers & now-villagers to leave the area. In vain. The stubborn settlers had always built ramparts around their village, that hinderd the messengers efforts to join the heart of the village. Discouraged & scared, the latter thought about giving up their mission. They knew the King awaited their answer though. So they went, asking to talk with the villagers, transmitting the same message as in their previous encountering. Once again, the settlers asserted the plots belonged to them & they would not leave. The messengers returned to the King & reported about the situation (again!). Probably, the messengers managed to convince the King about the peaceful settlement... Anyhow, the King left them alone & tacitly allowed their settlement.
Later on, the King sacred a Vatolahy (: male stone) at the entry of the village. He name this sacred stone Ambatomalaza (where lies the well-known stone).
As time went by, when newcomers settled in the area outside the remparts. Whenever they wante to enter the heart of the village, they used to say "I'm going to Ambatomalaza". Bit by bit, "Ambatomalaza" was dropped down & replaced by the shorter nick of " Malaza", the name of our village since then.
**There is not any official written history about Malaza. I translated into English the description which a villager collected from oral reports from the ancients. The story had been transmitted through generations as lovan-tsofina (: heir of ears), hence my hesitation about exact period & even the very identity of the ruling King at that time. I am incline to believe this King was actually Nampoina as I've read in official texts & history books that this king used to transit at our village as he used our canal to reach Antananarivo (from Ambohimanga) & vice-versa. So, if there was an only king who knew Malaza, it should be him... Btw, King Nampoina reigned reigned 1787 to 1810.**
Updated Aug 12, 2006
Favorite thing: What I like most about sunsets is not really watching the sun setting, rather the play of warm lights on water surfaces, on carmin & ochre walls, on the diversified canvases that are locals faces. On the latter, mostly, smiles, dreaming eyes while watching the red, orange, purple skyline; taking advantage of the last warm rays of the day before winter evening fog falls on the earth again.
Look my first picture. These youngsters were playing football (soccer) in a nearby place when I passed by (around 5.20 pm). By the time I went further to from where I took this picture, they just crossed the road to lean against the enclosure wall & face the sunset then watched it disappearing.
It is also the time when the last zébus herds, the last ducks are ousted from the fields & brought ("pushed" would be more appropriate) back home.
I use to choose sunset time as the moment I have my second walk of the day (my "well-being program" requires two walks per day: 1 hour in the morning & another hour in the afternoon). Just in time to live l'heure bleue outside. An experience I like to renew as often as possible for it being my favourite moment of the day.
Fondest memory: Away from Malaza, I miss the quiet heure bleue very much (more than those sunsets, in fact). Time is suspended. The sun has just gone and the moon is not there yet. Sometimes, I even have the feeling the birds hold their breath at that specific moment.
A unique experience to get lost in an orchard with this intoxicating blend of orange flower & night jasmin petals.
Watching sunset on this dike uses to be fun as well. Taking advantage of the last warm rays & letting them caressing your face... the pure breeze will soon be there... the fresh air with, sometimes, the smell of the mud being ploughed, digged in the ricefields...
Updated Aug 11, 2006
Favorite thing: Malaza is a little village North of Antananarivo (Tana for insiders), Tana being capital city of Madagascar.
It is where my Dad's family comes from (his Dad side, that is). It is where we landed after some years living in Tana itself (center & suburbs).
Initially, my Dad ancestors were landowners in Malaza. Once there was Rainibemololo ("the guy with lots of hay" in 18th century (?)), he lived in Malaza and used to be hard at work. Not only he possessed the plots but he worked on them as well.. and this guy is reported to be the farest known ancestor of my Dad. Many generations later, Rainibemololo descendants split in some families so to have Malaza partitioned between them. Nowadays, there are some families there who are from landowners origins. Mine is part of them. My grand-grand-father was even an "important" figure (or considered as such) there for him being an Anglican priest and having contributed in enlarging the (small) Malaza Anglican church.
Apart from landowners, there were slaves who used to work for them. When it was about time to abolish slavery (19th century), many landowners just let their slaves flee away. My family gave them plots, hence their presence on our then lands. In return, we enjoy the tranquility of a safe countryside, without any trouble with the slave descendants. Elsewhere, I was told, some landowners descendants use to have problems, victims of some kind of vendetta or some robberies. The latter are, for me, quite understandable. How can a family who had worked for decades for others without being paid, without any possession, earn their life once released if they are not given some shelter and land ? I thank my ancestors for this wise decision (giving plots of land), it enabled the following generations to really enjoy their countryside without any trouble... just in peace. Sometimes, we are even protected by our neighbours in case some external burglars come to "visit" us... In a way, the clan spirit was saved.
Fondest memory: -Isolation
-Feeling relax compared to the hectic, noisy city center.
This is by far, my favourite environment. In Malaza, it's really the coutryside lifestyle. I am so used to it but my cousins who started living there at the age of 17 have had some troubles getting used to it. I find it the most enjoyable of lifestyles: job, shopping, nightlife in the city center and retreat, meditation, sport, week-ends in fresh air... With some luck, you may even work in Malaza, technology allows that... Office being 50 metres away from swimming-pool. For the time being, my sis still works in the city center, so do my uncles who live in Malaza and surrounding villages.
[Update May 2005: See this house ? This house of my grand-grand-father is no longer there.. it finally torn down. Also, we don't live in the same house from where I snapped the picture, my parents have moved to another newly built house in the same domain (see travelogue to know more). In a sense, this picture is unique fo the house that doesn't exist anymore, for the other one that has been left emptied (for the moment)...]
Updated Aug 11, 2006
Fondest memory: Part of memories of this place are muddy summers and floods !
Then, it is in summer: the rainy season turns the dusty roads into some mudbath tub for cars. Hehehe.. when it's raining too much, the breaches in the dam through Laniera use to let water inondate the ricefields plains. At some point, waters from each side of the road level up to the road... Soon, the road is under waters. When it happens, we sometime have to station our car on the road, take a pirogue to reach the other portion of the road. then, another car awaits for us at this other portion of the road and off we are to school and work in the city center. When there are floods, those are the times we don't commute for noon lunch. Instead we stay at my grand-mother house in Tana for noon lunches. In the evening, the car, the pirogue then the other car again. Those were the days. Sometimes, it happened that we got surprised by the floods, didn't have time to advise the chauffeur about coming to Malaza with the car and wait at the other section of the dam. If then, the first day of floods, we stayed home. Nice, of course. Yipppeee, no school, all fun. !
It was a week of school holidays that day, the ricefields got flooded. I was in our orchard, looking at the "beach" scene. Not only I noticed the pirogue smoothly evolving on the ricefields, I spotted those young lads swimming in the afternoon. They tried to splash each other with water, then swam away from each other, then get closer again to splash water. Screams of joy ! Yeah! the joys of countryside.
Who would think it was possible to swim in the ricefields, you tell me ! I've ridden the pirogue but never swum in the ricefields though.
Updated May 28, 2005
Favorite thing: Malaza has a youthful population. I don't know accurate stats but years ago, it was said that half of Madagascar population was aged under 15. I guess Malaza population is not that far from this proportion. After all, rural populations are the ones which have the highest natality rates.
Fondest memory: It was a bed weather and I got a flu. Since I didn't want to lay in, I just piled up layers and went on having my walk in the nearby.
After some time in the fields, i returned on my paths. It was near 5 pm, I saw the first zébus leaving the ricefields and heading home, those were the youngest. I decided to stay at the gate to see cattles, geese returning "home". For my house being located South of the village and being the last one before descending to the fields, it was easy to see all passers-by returning from or joining the fields. Can be cars conveying goods (sand, bricks, cabbages..), bicycles, women who joined their men at noon for the lunch, animals... etc.
I was leaning against the gate when I noticed youngs coming from the fields, pushing their tyres. It took the fourth chap to notice me, with my digicam, the hood of my windbreaker on. I must have looked "strange" and the young guys didn't know me... Anyways, he called his friends who preceeded him. The latter traced back their steps, gathered in front of my gate, looking at me... I said hello. Before answering, one asked loudly the others, as if I wasn't there, who I was. No answer. So, they all replied to my greetings: "Manao ahoana ô!". Then, I asked why they spent all day in the fields (I saw them earlier in the afternoon, playing near the barrage), they replied they could since there was this week-holiday. How could I know? Noone home goes to school anymore. Of course, they asked about this thing I was holding in my hand: the camera!! They knew it of course :-)) I asked them I'm going to take picture of them. All of sudden, they all stroke a pose and encouraged me to snap. Aren't they cute ?
Worth the notice, their "toys". The country is the home of DIYers of all kinds, ranging from repairers, menders to "toymakers". The toy here is made of a tyre (you see it), two sticks. They enjoy pushing their tyre and arranging some race. Now, anyone who knows how they make the tyres roll should be rewarded.
Updated May 15, 2005