Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fete to get a boat wet

Prepared August 15, 2008

As it happens in Madagascar, there is always reason for a party. Hey, if you can throw a huge celebration when the ancestors are cold (for the traditional Fanadihama), then you can certainly celebrate the first launching of a new boat. This celebration happened to be planned for when we were passing through on our way back to Kirindy Mitea National Park, so we were able to take part. The party weekend found itself in Belo-sur-mer, the picturesque fishing village on the Mozambique Channel. An Italian woman had worked with local carpenters to build a buitre, a huge wooden sailboat constructed entirely from local materials. This construction may satisfy a number of firsts for this village—the first boat built by a white person, and most likely the first built by a woman. Well, to celebrate such an occasion, the entire village came out in full force. A sound system that would have made Aerosmith proud appeared out of nowhere (the villagers definitely don’t rock out every night in their huts) and set up on a stage in the sand, not 30 feet from the water. Every official of import came out in suit and tie to make the requisite kibari (speech). The music (a live band had traveled from Tana to make the party a success) started at sundown and literally went until the next morning. As we walked out of Belo the next morning at 7:30 am on our way to Kirindy Mitea, townspeople were still dancing up a storm. A few hours from then, these same people would be pushing the enormous new boat into the water for the first time.

The music was a lot of fun—it’s called kilalaky—and combines guitar, drums and a lot of human-made rhythm. See what you think:


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