Randriamahefa: interview transcript

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Randriamahefa: interview transcript

Randriamahefa is a farmer and former migrant living in Tanandava, Androy, Madagascar. He was 49 when he was interviewed on 19 November 2009 for the Rural Poverty Report 2011. The interview was recorded in the language of Tandroy and carried out by a staff member from the Andrew Lees Trust. The interviewer had an existing relationship with the community and had experience of in-depth interviewing from a previous oral testimony project undertaken with Panos London.


Thank you for agreeing to take part in this research, for this is part of a report to be assembled on poverty in the rural areas.
Aaaà…

So this is being done towards creating a strategy against poverty in the rural areas and towards their futures, and it will be written as a report,. Our research here might take an hour or so, and I'm asking you to endure through that period. Now it's good for those who are visiting together to know each other. My name, then, so as not to be an unknown to you, is Emelie, working for ALT, and now I'd like to ask your name.
Okay, thank you Madame Emelie, who has come here, doing this research, working together with ALT. My name then is Randriamahefa (meaning a prince who is able to succeed), and this is where we are now, in Tanandava-Ambone (upper Tanandava). We were in that lower town down there, but it became more populated so we moved to this place up here.

You then, should be how old now, Randriamahefa?
I'm now 401 years at this time.

Do you have a wife and children?
I have, I have children, I have a wife.

How many children do you have?
I have 10, 10 are my children, the boys are eight, the girls are two.

Do all those 10 live with you here?
Yes they live with me here, the nine. One is married and has migrated. The nine are here. I bear all on my breast.

What I'd like to know, if you could impart it, that is, would you tell me about your life from a small child until now?
Yes … and that shouldn't be too difficult for me as it all happened to me so I should be able to relate it now - my life since I was young… [Clears throat] I was once young; and for us here, only farming is our work, what we are occupied with. So when I could hold a spade, when I could handle a spade then I learned how to plant. There was no other means of livelihood than the spade. It's what we lived off. I was also orphaned. I was small when my father died, I never knew my father, only my mother, and we were many. We were 11 [children] of my mother, and those who were older were [going] about their own lives, and those of us who were smaller, when our mother couldn't manage us, we survived working the farm on the land of our father. When I was older I hired out as a herder for a man.  When that herding contract was completed (contracts are one animal per year), I stopped that herding, and went back to work the field. Then when I was 18 years old, having grown up, I married, and learned how to live a married life, and started making a living. In '86 we bore a child. That was the first of my children, and so I supported the child and the cows I received from my herding, together with my wife. Now I had my wife herd the cattle I received from that guy, and I cultivated. One noon, my wife and I conversing decided, "Now you go into the field and dig some sweet potatoes for our lunch for you are a woman now." And so our thinking improved by degrees. Now by '90 we bore another child, so now we had two children and we were four in the house. And we grew, and I farmed, and did nothing but stick to that farming, to my struggle to support my wife and children, then on and on and on we [went] as a family of four.

In another year, [my wife] bore a child again, our third child. Our older child was older now so we encouraged him to herd cattle while my wife and I did the cultivation. Now the child herded, we weeded, then at noon, my wife takes those children to dig for sweet potatoes, and returns home and cooks when she reaches home. I am at this time herding the cattle until later. The time goes on. Now we at that time were still living in another person's house, so then when I realised that my children would not find room in that person's house, the family getting larger, I built a traño tsoke (hut of branches). We made a sokemitrahañe (dome-shaped hut), we cut fandotsara (Bermuda grass) to build that sokemitraha, and we roofed it, and settled in it, and made a second one for the woman's cooking. Now we lived that way for a while, we lived that way for a while [repeats].

Then we, having made a little from our farming, I bought, and we constructed a traño vahoñ  (house of aloe stalks). That was a kind of house back in those days, so I purchased aloes from the forest, making another house different from that traño tsoke.So now I had a traño vahoñ. Now that the house had changed a little, we lived on, and changed it again, and we stayed on; now I had it in my heart to build a traño here (sisal leaf house), for people back then would replace their houses with traño here, to replace their traño vahoñ. So I built a traño here, on and on.

Then, the children were becoming more and more, so that now we had five children, I was also getting older. "So if that's the way it goes", I say, "that I'm getting older"... the cattle now had calved, and there was someone selling land, so after those cattle had given birth I bought some land, for I said: "This land of mine is small, I'll buy some land, for there won't be sufficient land for my children to till when they grow older." So I bought land when my cattle had increased. I had five cattle with those calves, and bought the land with three of those cattle, and that left the cow and one calf. Now I had two fields, back when I had five children.

And time went on and I had an inkling to change the house again as I was getting older and the children were multiplying, and I was hoping then to build a house of boards, so I built a house of fatiolotse (boards), selling one of the cattle for those boards, building that wooden house, and finally living in a wooden house.2 Now as time went on and I was maturing in my thinking, now having six children, I said to my wife: "You stay here with those cattle, you stay with those fields, and our young ones, for I'm going to seek a job [in the north]." "Yes," says my wife, so I migrate, leaving her behind to raise our children at home, staying in that house of ours, and I departed to find work.

Once there I pulled a posy (rickshaw), pulled posy [repeated to indicate passage of time], but that work didn't produce (wasn't successful). I might make only 400 ariary (0.2 US$)3 from the morning – or 500 – till evening, so then I did daba rano (carrying water) in the city. I did jokera work (unloading lorries). Now it's not the same living in another's land and living at home. I chased every avenue of making money. Later I worked as a guard, leaving behind those other jobs, and did guarding. Then completing that guarding, it having been five years, I went home and bought a lasarý (plough), I bought a sarete (ox-cart), I bought a bidon (plastic barrel for water collection ) and had a bicycle, and my life changed. I farmed in our homeland, settled, and continued farming.

Then after some time destiny changed again. Having seen my family, my children, I emigrated again. Arriving at my destination, at this place called Llakaka (location of sapphire mines), I became a miner: digging holes, crawling through tunnels, finding – good –  not finding, continuing, finding again and so on, day after day; so after a long time I had amassed some savings and went home, buying cattle, having found that small [sapphire] stone; I came back to my family.

Now this land of mine is not without hillocks (life in our land does not always go smoothly) a land of famine, such that the famine wiped out those cattle I'd bought, and not only those, but did away with all the others as well. So after that, I wasn't at ease staying in my homeland, so I went to the sea, wove a net. Now the lobster trade was improving, and I learned the ways of the sea, for I couldn't carry (support) those children. They were many, I now had seven children. So I learned to fish, and I did lobster, for the lobsters were coming in then. We improved our living on those, bought goats, bought chickens, bought turkeys, now we tended all those. Then the year was a good one, so we farmed, and continued with the lobster. I'd dive in the sea and find some deda;4 I'd bring that home for the evening meal, I'd find what's called sokiñe (sea urchin) and that would be what would start a fire in the evening. We paddled, I'd take my children out to the sea, once out there I'd dive in, gathering the sokiñe from the sea, diving for the deda in the sea. Then we would return to the shore, the children all roasting those sokiñe and deda in the fire. We'd go home to bed in the evening, then the day had risen, the soil now swelled, [became] soggy, the rain had come, the year caught us (it was a good year). Now that having been a successful year, I said to my wife: "You stay here, for though this work of the sea, this fishing, can fill our stomachs, it can't put clothes on us, we won't find possessions in it, so I'd rather go." Then I emigrated, this time to Majunga, leaving behind that Toliara, and that Ilakake, to flee to Majunga.

Once there I did not go into that posy-pulling business, but went straight into farming, for the land up north produces a harvest. One plants peanuts there, plants kidney beans, plants vañemba (a small bean), we plant anything that can be planted there, tsoroko (a bean). I'd heard that the land up there produced, so I headed for the fields and left the posy-pulling behind, so I planted there and rented land from a man. The rent of the land was 50,000 ariary per hectare. Even after renting land we still split the harvest in half with the owner, and the owner said: "I receive for the land and my land also receives." "It doesn't matter", I said, "as long as I can settle here", so I went and stayed in a region called Ambato (land of stones), renting land.

And there was a close friend of mine there who had pity on my suffering, and said: "Go ahead and rent, and I'll provide you with a yoke of oxen and a plough to work the land." So there I was sitting on that land, paying the rent, and dividing the harvest with the owner; the man received, his land received. So I planted the seed, and my friend supplied those things, supplying the yoke of oxen to turn that soil. Then having been on that land for one year, and making a little from the harvest, and having stayed there to finish off the year, now after two years the year turned [out good], and I had seed now after that harvest. That seed which remained after the rent and the half [given] to the owner, with that I purchased the cattle for a sarete and I bought a polled ox (ox without horns), I bought a single polled ox.

Then my friend said to me, "Even though you've made a little on this land, give it up, leave this land that's killing you, making you suffer, there is some land of a friend of mine yonder, come and I'll lead you to it, for there it's just an even split, and not providing a portion for the land as well [as the cash rent]. The owner alone receives but not the land." "Okay," I say, "what do I know, it's not that I'm acquainted with things here, and though this other person is making a fool of me, what can I say but to bear my suffering?"  

So finally I dropped this [other work] and followed my friend to the land of his friends, and the owner said, "Sure, farm it, half is mine and half is yours," so I went and planted that field that year, and [voice rising] it was a massive harvest, an excellent harvest. I'd planted 2 gunnies, and harvested 40 gunnies, and there is a buyer, for there is a factory that receives them there, and now I'd succeeded through that; 120,000 [ariary] was the price of peanuts at that time, per gunny, What could I say, my suffering was relieved, I was happy, and went home, bought a barrel again, a plough again, and brought them home, and my relatives said I was some [extraordinary] creature for having brought home those possessions.

Then I considered and bought cattle: 30 cattle is what I got then, but then I said, "These cattle--these cattle die of starvation, and I'll be crushed trying to raise these cattle. These are a possession and I'm not going to waste them on raketa (prickly pear, leaves of which are used for watering cattle in times of drought). Why don't I build something strong out of these cattle instead of having this land starve them off? In the end, having calculated, I sold the cattle and bought cement, bought lime, paid a man to mine rocks, I'd rather build a traño vato (stone house) out of these cattle. These cattle will just be killed off by the disease of the land, and this [house] will be a memorial to my children. So when the payment for those rocks was done, I paid other men to haul them, and contracted with a mason to build the house, so that's why I'm settled in this house as a conclusion to all that suffering, and so now I'm settled here, the cattle are gone, but it was for this house that I let them go. There are some cattle, a few, not like the many then, but just a few, that I can herd from this house, eat in this house. That's the conclusion of my settling, and here I am now. There are the children. There are 10 of them now. My wife has stopped bearing, so now we're into raising these children, we're educating some. The older ones have emigrated, the others, one of them is herding. They're all out in the field right now, some in school, and my wife has stopped bearing as she is getting older also.

Now in that  telling of your story, I have yet a lot of questions to ask of you, that you might elucidate parts of it, but first let me ask you, is it very important, for the good, to be able to emigrate when times are tough?
Yes, it's important to me, you see this land of ours here is poor in tools, so if you had any notions to have possessions, then there is not much available here for it is only farming. But in going (migrating), first of all it's only oneself that goes, but when one stays back here there are too many relatives. Often I'm attending to my children in our house, and at the same time attending to a child of another relative out there, bringing them to Antala to Somangy, to Tsihombe, under pressure with that. And even though that's their problem it's also mine. If there's some money on me I must bring it to them, but when I'm away, I'm alone. I only have to be concerned for myself, for tsy maharè tañin'anake ty miamboho (the crying child is not heard by him whose back is turned). So in that they're here tending to all that. It would have to be a gigantic problem to require me to return: the death of my father, the death of my mother, the death of my child, or the death of my wife. They, having made a phone call to me in the land of my emigration, then I'd have to come. But for all of those other pains out there, then, for all of those other pains out there [repeats], that's why I emigrate. The small change I find today multiplies, the day dawns and the day melts (disappears), but it's only me to worry about, and my suffering is my own. For I don't know many in that land, maybe two or three are my acquaintances there, who have also emigrated seeking a fortune. That's why I prefer going, for there is less burden on me of those sazy (charges for funeral or illness of relatives). But [if I stay] here I see my children sick, I see my wife ill, I see those out there that are deceased, I see my relatives out there sick; then If I have a little in the house it goes, but there are too many relatives, too much pain and [too many] concerns. They also have helped me in the past, so I must assist them in theirs. So that's the benefit of emigration. It's not only that it (staying here) requires of my means, but keeps me from working my fields, all that time spent visiting those with the problem.

That then is the positive side of emigrating, what also might be the negative side?
There is! There is the negative side of it. Now if one gains something, that's the good side, but if one does not gain, then if there are some relatives there from whom one can gather [the fare] to get back home, for they say, "It's better that we get this son of ours back to work the land in Androy." But then those, if they are afar off, are not going to give you your ticket home for free, but will have you sell off your land back here in Androy, and so that land is accounted for back here. On occasion also, one dies in emigration. To us Tandroy it's a big thing to get that body back to be buried in Androy, and there is the problem of how to pay for the transport of the body to get it here. But then it's the sale of land here that reimburses the transport. That's another bad result of it.

So then the acquiring [from migration] is positive, but to have one of those latter [things] happen, is the negative side of it.

Now you were just telling me that one of your children had emigrated, why was that?
There is a reason, you see when one's child is of age, a wife is fetched for him. "Get a spouse for this child so that he does not just wander, lest due to his youth he get into trouble with what those vazaha (foreigners or officials) call this AIDS thing. Well, better that we find a spouse for our child, lest this child bring sorrow to us, contract AIDS, then we'll be in a strait. Let's get a spouse for this child, for his spirit, so that she can break (train) him so he doesn't wander around."

So when they are of age, a spouse is found for them for their protection, so that they don't incur disaster or craziness, and they will have their own household, and their concentration will be on that, to make the household work. Then he's in control of the woman he took, that's why he (his son) went away - he has one to care for, he has a household, he's concerned with how to improve [life for] his wife, to buy her oil, to buy bracelets, to buy household wares, to buy kettles, to buy spoons.  And even though I'm his father, I have a full house of young ones I'm raising also, those who don't yet have a spouse, they're the ones I'm raising, they're in my charge.  He is of age, can manage himself and has his own household. Over there is the traño tsoke I made for him, and those two traño tsoke over there are theirs also, and they've already learned how to settle in for some time. That's what they're doing now, afar off, thinking about improving their lot back here, improving their tsoke house, to make it a here house, or a wooden house. So that's where they are now, emigrated.

You now have emigrated thrice, to Toliara, to Ilakaka, to Majunga, and are now returned to your fatherland; what are you doing now?
What I'm doing now? I'm getting to be an old man, I'm looking up to my children now, and I'm taking care of their health needs.  And though old, I still go to the field, and that weeding is my work at this time, for my youth is no longer there that had the strength to go far away looking for pay. I can no longer pull a posy in someone else's land--I'm too old.

And that ocean in which we put our hope of survival only brings the chills to me now that I'm older, and so we put our hope in the fields and hope in Zañahare (God) for rain for cultivation.  And that's my only work at this time, and raising a few chickens, growing a few tomatoes, planting a few papaya, planting whatever there is to plant, because that's where we can find some money if they produce. We see in the market all those people who are planting tomatoes and papaya, so that's one means of finding cash, and while they have enough food to sell part of it, they still obtain small savings little by little. So I plant a little of everything, of the little I have - though I can't handle everything - and while I'm still not caught by sorrow I raise what I can in order to bring up my children, and educate them. 

Have you been back from emigration some 10 years or five years or how long?
It's been six years since I've been away in emigration.

So it's been six years since you've been here and began settling?
Yes six years.

Can you then compare your agriculture here six years ago with that at present?
If I can compare it with the cultivation away at my emigration, this place does not produce.  It doesn't produce here, for we have to do numerous fields before we can expect anything. But in that land we only need 2 or 3 hectares, and that will produce very well if the year is good. But here, though I cultivate 10 fields, I'll only harvest 20 sarete (cartloads) from those] – 20 sarete – and for the vañemba, I might only fill one riha (hut for storing). The same with balahazo (manioc) - up there one talks about hectares, here we need a montoñe (vast open plain).

In your opinion then, what would cause that?
The reason for my inability to attain a harvest here is that the land is exhausted of taste (nutrients), because the land we're cultivating here has been cultivated by all my forefathers. Cultivated since... well I'm the fifth generation on this land - my forefather of five generations ago broke this land I cultivate now. The land doesn't produce for loss of vigour (fertility), even though I cultivate a wide area I can't get a harvest due to the loss of nutrients in that soil.

You plant quite a few things, ampemba, bageda, vañemba, tsako, (sorghum, sweet potatoes, a kind of bean, corn). Are there any problems with any of those or how do you see it?
There is a problem there, for some time ago when I was just learning to be married, when I planted vañemba – we worked the soil in this month of vatravatra (lunar month near November). We worked the soil, and into what's worked we planted dry. Then when December came, and it rained on that which we've planted katraiñe (planted into dry soil), then tsy mañato-vara (literally: does not depend on wealth; carelessly advancing, not counting the cost. Planting into dry soil is very risky, for if it begins to sprout and is not then followed by another rain, the sprout will die) [it] gave a good harvest. That was when I was just newly married back in '86. Everything produced, whether vazavo (watermelon), or corn, or vañemba, or sorghum, whatever made it into the soil, succeeded.

Now I do all that again, I work the soil, plant it as katraiñe, but then sometimes the rains don't come, and those things planted are simply lost in the soil; others, receiving rain, don't produce, they grow leaves but no fruit. There might be one string to pull from one plant, two from another, for corn there are some that are sterile (have no ears), others have a single ear. That's what I can see in the change of cultivation and harvests now compared to former days. These [pointing] are the balance of the sorghum harvested last season. Now I did harvest quite a bit of this sorghum those vazaha distributed.5 And I'm storing it, and have no worries about storing this, for I've weeded a large surface of fields, completely weeded, for these sorghum provided by the vazaha certainly produced, and so I exerted in weeding and cultivating the soil in preparation, and will sow not less than a full gunny of this. Now I don't really know how to treat it, I thrashed it, I put it in the house in a gunny, and I bought gaz (an insecticide) so that it would endure. I keep an eye on it in this place that I've stored it, and don't know whether it will make it to planting or not. Now I had a lot here, but I saw a mother (an adult insect) come out and so I threshed them all, put them in a gunny, and added the gaz, and that's how I've stored it, to see whether it might survive till planting season, or not make it.

Is there a reason that the sorghum produced well in the past season?
There is a particular reason, you know that it was planted traditionally by our forefathers, but now trained by those people who did good to us, to Tantely and Amelie, and this is how they trained us about it: that 80 centimetres is the distance between the rows in fertile soil, and in unworked soil extend the distance to 1 metre between plants, and not to plant [a barking dog drowns his voice], not to plant corn with it. But vañemba may be planted underneath, antake (traditional bean) may be planted beneath, and [we don't] plant it in plots from which balahazo has been harvested.

And so we planted that, and were careful how we dropped the seed, as we were instructed, for they'd say: don't drop many into the hole, but if many then four or three, for if too many they're too tight and won't head, but four or three. If there are two then there will be spurs coming up from the base. Then the hole is full of plants. And if five or six are put in, they won't produce a harvest, as they won't head, likewise if they are planted too deep. Now I'd tried it with dropping it behind the plough, into the furrows of the plough, but the furrows are too heavy for covering it. So then I was wary. If I used a plough it was for vañemba; then I'd drop one corn [seed] in after five of the vañemba, only one in six. I didn't follow the plough with the sorghum, but tossed the seed over the ploughed area and covered it with my foot, tossed and covered it with my foot. Then after three days they sprouted all over the place, and I wanted to thin out all the corn and the sorghum to reduce the density. And so this sorghum produced well, we having followed well the discipline they trained us with. I didn't plant it with corn, and didn't plant it where there was manioc, I didn't plant it deep, nor in places where there are water ponds, and I didn't drop many, but three or four, and if by chance [I dropped] five or six, and I found many young [seedlings], I'd thin them out so that they won't be dense. And if I found one with an insect in the head, I'd kill that and inspect the lower stalk also. So I'd cut that out, and it would re-sprout from the base, and I'd discard the wormy one at the edge [of the field]. Then I'd look after the one I'd cut off, and it would produce other fine heads. So I had a good harvest, because I followed closely the discipline that those people gave us and "I'll watch over this carefully", I said.

So then you have sorghum seed stored now?
I have.

You have it in storage?
I do. You see our land here has frequent drought, then when the rains come, even if they don't really, we'll treat them as if they had come, for when the rains haven't come we're struggling by every means to find work, to make some money, but as soon as the rains fall, we completely drop that search for money, and have no thought whatsoever for our hunger when that rain falls. For we're then all out in the fields, having no other project in mind, and all our effort is in that field; this is the reason I stored quite a bit of this [sorghum seed]. And so we'll cultivate, me and my children, my wife will cultivate with me, it's not that I ask her to but in her willingness [she does so], with the falling of the rain--it's time to plant. Now when that has been seeded in the fields--now rice is slow by comparison when it is cooked. And my wife cooks two kapoake [of sorghum] when we come in from the field, for this, she says, will be done in a jiffy. She cooks it when we pause from our weeding, and have a meal at noon, that's why I stored the harvest. Indeed I stored a lot of that seed.

Didn't you sell any?
I have, but once one sets his hopes on the spade, where else can he look in faosa (the dry season6), when hunger comes on. So you just release it slowly, little by little; it comes back to what we were speaking about earlier, when someone in the family is facing sorrow or suffering, then we'll sell 20 kapoake or 30 kapoake with which to address that, to bring to those relatives who are bereaved.

That's according to your social customs?
Mm!

So the field you plant is really a possession of importance?
It's, it's great, it's huge, all the way back to our forefathers, it's very important to be able to say you have farmland. That's because, what is called fatherland, the term fatherland means arable land. But though you might call this your fatherland but don't have land on which to plant--let's say he emigrates to the north and obtains equipment and returns home – then where is he to put the cattle he purchased, the equipment he bought, if he has no land to plant, as his cattle will have no land to feed on. What does fatherland mean if you don't have the land, even if he were raised on this land, but doesn't have land to weed …when he returns after a long time making money?  If he doesn't have land to return to, he doesn't, he's among those who don't have a fatherland. That's the advantage of owning arable land, land that is cultivable, not just for me, but including the forefathers also.

Compare for me in the last 10 years, how many fields did you have back then as against the number you have today?
When I was just learning to be married, I only had one field.  When I had six children I had three fields. Now at this time, the [fields] remaining from my building this house and all... There were those whirlwinds7 of one year back then, I don't recall if that was in '91 or when, that dust-devil year - you see life is not on an even plain. It happens that someone has cattle, and they are wasted by the drought, then he has to sell his land to survive and I buy his land. So at this time I'm living on, that is, I have 10 fields.

Is it also a big thing to you to have cattle in this society?
Living together in society is a big thing, we now live in this new fokontany (administrative unit) called Tanandava-Bema, having eleven komity (jurisdictional townships); those eleven komity set the rules for how we function, so if one village transgresses against the rules of those komity then it is fined by them according to ancestral practice.  So that it is not ostracised from the community, which is welded together by ancestral norms. Let's say I'm kicked out, and I die, having been ostracised, then those 13 villages will not attend my funeral, because according to ancestral custom I'd be called an ombelahimavo (brown bull). And though I might be buried by my family I'd not be buried by the community. That's what's good about society, for it's not a good thing to be buried by oneself, for one's relatives are many and are not to be foiled by one's misdeeds. Society is very important [repeats the sentence].

What I'd really like to delve into: is it important to have cattle in society?

So let's say, in the community there is one who has no cattle, no goats, not even land but a small plot, how does the society treat that case?
What we would do in that case, I don't know what the others do, but here, that village would bury that body. His own village would bury his corpse. I don't know what others do, but we in these 148 komity - the 14 komity of Tanandava - would convene and order the one village of one komity, saying: "Bury the dead for you may not leave that body to rot."  Now, that village also has its family heads, and they get together to force the one family to bury that body. Those elders of that community of his will order the closest of kin to bury their dead, for even the authorities will not accept a course of action where the corpse is not interred but left to rot. Let's take the case of me and my elder brothers. They are five men. For example, someone dies here not having a father, not having a chicken or field or possession, but my elders will not wait for a judgement out there. The six will get together and say; "Let us bury this dead." But let's say that we had a grudge, them being against me while I was alive, and in their disgust they would say, "Leave his body there to rot." Those out there will not permit it, but they will say; "The corpse must be interred." So judged, the six would get together and bury him, in what's called mbetsiandonake (still without a grave). One must bury the dead, no matter what his fault or sin, in this manner called mbetsiandonake. So those caring for the body will be requested; "Here is an ox for you to bury your dead, whether or not you had a grudge with him living, enliven those people (feed all who come to bury the dead)9." Even if he didn't have a family but was a resident of their village:  that's how they would bury the dead with no possessions who was at odds with his family. That's society.

What is that hakeo (blame) you mentioned there?
The hakeo: it's not difficult to have that story, for that fault I mentioned, of him with those relatives of his out in that village beyond, they give blame, then one must give one goat as a release of that guilt before a group of family elders; that brings harmony to the society. I mean the society of those other 13 of those 14 komity. Now if one dies in our village, then that village must present a goat. This is the modest gift from the father's side. Kopi-bala-tsarake, tsy mamoe ty miarake: (proverb: One doesn't herd in vain: there is always the payment at year's end). There, fathers, is the bequest from your brother whom you will not see; the one who is bereaved presents that offering to atone for his sins, to be eaten by those 14 komity. One of those 14 has the deceased so he presents the offering to the whole group of 14 on behalf of his deceased. That's how that is. Now if there is a death over in one of the others, the 14 receive it; on behalf of a deceased person it is eaten. Let's say that they suddenly don't make the offering, whether they have or don't have, but don't offer. So those who have all offered now blame that one, and get together to blame him declaring him as not one of our circle: "He's our ombela­­himavo (ostracised). Let's let him be by himself." The point is, then, when there's a death in one of those, it's the 13 who meet together, for the one is still outside.

Occasionally there is an association, they want to be a fokontany or a township, but they don't follow all of the customs. He won't be imprisoned or beaten, but there is a way of placing a fine on him that the many partake of, and he'll have to offer an animal. Another, let's say a youth, had a fight at the funeral, some young men fighting at the funeral because of being drunk on liquor, the youth playing bad pranks, or where two were committing adultery. Then he is judged beside the husband of the woman caught. The judgement isn't excessive, but they say, "Bury the acid (corruption) you put on top of that, bury the dead" and that means produce a large goat, but if he now doesn't pay but brings excuses, flaunts the act of stealing another's wife, causing a ruckus in regards to the light charge against him by the many, then a heavy sazy (fine) is imposed on him. Now if he doesn't accept that, he will be relegated to [the status of an] ombelahimavo.  I don't know what you call him but to us and the fanañandrae (clan elders) here he who won't pay his fine of judgement is called an ombelahimavo and is ostracised. But he's not ostracised in that others would punish him, as those who would take him through the commune and to the courts, for that is not in keeping with ancestral custom.  He is ostracised to face the consequences of his misdemeanour. If he is called he must present himself to the summons, [otherwise] the malaso (bandits) will run off with his cattle, for his not responding to the summons.  Someone will dig up his sweet potatoes in the field, for he does not respond to the call. That's the fine that befalls someone for ignoring the fanañandrae so that he might come to his senses, saying, "So that's what I did!" In the end he'll make his offering, and he'll again be accepted by the clan.

We'll change the subject a little, to health, where did you take your sick before; and where do you take them now?
That has all happened to me, so it shouldn't be hard to explain what I recall. When I was but a small child there were a few illnesses that could not be cured from this land. There was that one called mongo (measles), there was that one called hona (cancerous or gangrenous sore), the one called angamae (leprosy)...  There's that one called farasisa (syphilis) at this time or tsinahieñe (literally: behaved wantonly) of old. Those three were really a crisis because even the vazaha didn't come up with the medication. Those killed many, that tsinahieñe, and that measles, and this one called hona. That hona is boka (leprosy). They called it boka hona before.10  Now this measles, I don't know what to call it now as it's not common. The officials seem to have conquered this disease. The hona, or what's now called boka, seems to be scarce also as I don't see anyone affected anymore. They have cured that one, but this farasisa (STD)! I don't know if that's our tsinahieñe of old, but that is actually conquered according to one's self-discipline. Whether they will contract it or won't contract it. On occasion, according to the teaching of those regarding this AIDS, we hear them say that the STDs can be avoided by proper discipline; and leprosy has gone away.

But before, and not now, it was good if we'd just stay in the house, in those days. When the leprosy would catch one, or the measles catch one, then we'd just boil up some herbs. For measles there is that herb called tingotingo that grows in the forest; that was all our fathers would boil up for us. And we'd take care of those children, and watch over them constantly if they contracted one of those. We'd guard them, and for those children, their eyes, there were those pustules that grew on their eyelids or inside, so that we had to watch their hands so that they don't rub them. So herbs were all we used, at that time, when I was a child. And this angamae, or boka, we'd shut them in a house (quarantine) and bring food to them in their house. For it was said that holding something that the affected had touched would give him the disease also. So there was fear even though he was brought food and shut in the house. So it was just placed there (outside), and the one affected with boka would go and get it so that there would be no contact. They say that meat was the real culprit in that thing. If the affected presents raw meat to another unaffected he has transferred the disease to the clean in that action. But that has been killed by the medicines that the government has used in these more recent times. But when I was a child and contracted measles then it was only with that Malagasy remedy, tingotingo, that they treated me, to revive me, and they kept me covered so that I wouldn't get cold.

At this time those things don't occur, but for this third one called farasisa, now, I suspect that is still at large, for they talk about razor blades, knives, drinking (contact with) each other's blood, having sex; that's how you contract that one. At times the disease is spread by the water, so when one is infected, it easily shifts to another, but by using the same knife, or the other thing, they might also share the disease. That disease may very well still be at large, but it's a ‘sekere' (secret) so it's hard to tell who has it. No one can say " ‘John Doe' (generic term for an ordinary man) has it". But still there may be some of what's called farasisa. But then if one can control himself, and doesn't share sharp things, can be careful in sex, and the young men don't go after many girls, especially he who is married doesn't look at other women, but holds on to his own, and likewise for the women, that she'll hold only her own. But even if you love one, as they say, better that you purchase clothes for her to show your love, better, that if I love her I'd buy her bracelets, I'll buy her whatever she wants, food if that be her desire.

Now if one is sick, do you have hospitals, or how do you treat them?
There are hospitals. There are hospitals here, there are several hospitals here. There is one here in Bema, there is another at Faux Cap, so then if we are sick, then we go to those hospitals, go to those hospitals and report our illnesses there, and if they don't know our diseases there, they send us to Tsihombe, and if Tsihombe can't treat it, they send us on to Ambovombe if the disease is severe, and Ambovombe is able to cure it, great! This happened to me last September, down in my inguinal area here, with such pain I thought I had died. I got in a sarete and was taken to Faux Cap, and they said it was appendicitis; here I'd thought it was from cultivating, but here it's rather one of God's illnesses, having been in me for some time. I had it massaged by a woman who knows massage, thinking that it was a condition from my weeding, a muscle ache. But now the doctor recognized it as appendicitis. And he said, I'll give you some medicine now but I get you up to Tsihombe, for I'm concerned that this is acute appendicitis. Then arriving at Tsihombe, they sent me to Ambovombe, and Ambovombe did surgery and I was free of that appendicitis. We have hospitals here, and there is also medicine available from them that will keep us until we can get to a doctor.

You were saying earlier that you used a plant called tingotingo for treatment, now do you still have forests, and can you access those forests for remedies?
We can [drags it out as if not sure], that is we do, except that those medicines and those plants cannot be combined. But if it is an illness compatible with the forest then we'll fetch that in the morning. For instance, if it's hevo (when the infant's cranial soft spot is not joined), that is, if it's hevo. And then if it's - excuse me for saying this before you - diarrhoea, now there are two or three kinds of diarrhoea. There is one that is of sudden onset from God, or from wind or water; and at times it's a disease from food. After all, our food here is kotrañe (meaning not rice), so sometimes the food bothers our stomachs. So if that food is the cause, then we must cut a herb against that food. So let's say I ate meat today, ate habobo (set yogurt), ate sweet potatoes, ate food of many kinds, then my stomach might be upset, so I'll run to the forest for a certain herb.  Now our ancestors used that akao (filao, causerina) before, the tambeloñe (a type of beetle worn around the neck to bring health for certain conditions), the coconut, so knowing that, and my stomach becomes upset, I eat [the leaves of] a coconut in a hurry, sometimes I fetch the varantsihe (medicinal plant found only in southern Madagascar). We cook all of those up as a remedy for diarrhoea; that's because I know that food was the cause, but now if it's caused by the water or of sudden onset, like that cholera that passed through some time ago, then I know it's to the hospital. So according to the illness I know whether to use herbs or to go to the hospital.

There is still some forest left then here?
There is [haltingly], there is still forest, but it's not a tall forest, only a short and scrubby forest.

So you have a forest that you can gather wood in, and firewood…
Yes, for firewood; there is a forest for fetching firewood, but the forest is becoming smaller, in that it is being moved into by this younger generation that doesn't have land, continuing to clear what we, their fathers, had left. 

Now you said you're too old to go to the sea, but how is that sea worked by others?
They way they use it at this time, those like that one over there carrying a large staff, go there. They're going there now, when the tide is out at midday, then they'll go down there at midday. If the sea is out in the morning, it'll be in the morning that they go out, but if it's low tide in the evening that'll be cold and maybe he won't brave it. So then he'll work on the shore. Now if he goes out and makes a catch, catching a lot, if it's for cash he's fishing, then he'll sell some for money, and eat part of it. But if it's insufficient, then he'll only use it for food. That's what I've seen of the work of those guys, for my son over there does it. So that's how I see their work. Now there are many things they can bring in if the sea is out, there's the deda of Betanty, and what's called sokiñe, and all kinds of fish, so that's what they do out there, their profession. During the lobster season they are all after lobster for the money. But at this time it's stopped. That's about the work of those in this ocean.

But at this time, since the accident of that ship, they are wary, for someone will announce that the produce is now edible, that the poisons are dispelled, then another word will come forward that another vessel in there cracked and is leaking, so now their heads are confused, those young men who work the sea, they don't know what to do about the sea.

Now if you consider the harvest of the sea 10 years, ago, maybe you were in it then too, and compare that harvest with what you can get out at this time.
Now back when I was working it, back then, it really produced! It really produced well when I was fishing it. There was an Ambaniandro (one from the northern plateau of the Island) named Doly that exploded that thing here, including those of Depetà (not clear) in Fort Dauphin. They're the ones that raised the price of lobster for us here, but in the days of Martin Pecheur the price had only been at 250 [ariary], and Doly brought it up to 2000, and it has been rising ever since. Now at that time, there were few people who worked lobster, when it was only 250, only a few; that is, the lobster were seen, but the price was low. Now as soon as the price of the kilo of lobster went up to 2000, many began to work them, and the price of lobsters went up. Back when the price was 250 I'd dive and come up with 20 kg--when the price was only 250 – but then when the price rose to 2000 and beyond, the lobsters began to become scarce. So from that original 20kg it dropped to a low average of only 200gm per day that I could bring out daily. It had dropped by degrees, little by little. That's what has made the difference, many are involved with it, but the catch is small, the price is in the 10,000's, but many are lobstering, so we don't find any, at most 200gm or 400gm. You can find them, but you won't find a kilo. That's how it is!

Is it because so many work the lobster that there are so few? Or has there been a change in the sea?
It's not that the sea has changed, it still provides, and if it didn't provide, it's not that they died, for it's by the multitude of those employed with them that they are scarce. Also, it may be the price, that God is not allowing a super catch at that price but allowing as much as will be enough for today's food.

Now if we talk about education, do you have children in school now?
I still do.

What then is good about education, why is it worthwhile to educate your children?
It's important to educate children; in old times in contrast with today –there is progress in education – back then we wouldn't be sitting with you like this but would only be [hiding] in the forest. But since those vazaha came and began teaching, we have come out and now see brightness (clearly). We're not afraid of people, because we've come into clarity, all our children being in school. That's what's good about education; at this time we don't need children not learning, but children learning. We need that learning. Take for instance the guy that emigrates north and pulls a posy; he won't even know the code of the street (street signs), because he doesn't know numbers [or letters]. In the end he just follows the cars, in the end he runs into trouble with the police for entering where there is no issue, and he'll be harassed by people for not knowing anything not even one number. He doesn't know the road he's crossing; that's what's bad about not learning.

And regarding education, the spade: there are getting to be more people, and maybe there won't be room in a few years [for everyone to have land], but education will still be around. For we've seen those who have been to school and are now teachers, that they have a salary, and though that teacher may have a field, it's by his salary that he works the field. It's the money of his salary that he eats, he doesn't cultivate, but he just teaches that which he has learned to make him a teacher. He doesn't weed - that work handed down by our ancestors - he only teaches. That's his profession. He doesn't suffer, he has clothes. His salary clothes him. He can buy whatever his body requires, for he is skilled, he is a teacher, with a salary. He has money.

Now, our children at this time, we must educate them so they'll be like those we've seen. And now, there are only vazaha who come to our land here. So our children now, when the vazaha asks them a question, they not knowing, simply laugh, for the vazaha might be asking a favour and asking the child for what price he'll do it, and that child won't understand that bit about "How much should we pay you?" but the child just laughs. That's the problem with children who don't learn, for if there would be a vazaha visiting, who might have money and want to talk to him, to find out about his father or his fokontany, even though he is just a child, but then the child can't understand the speech of the vazaha; his father and mother are all in the field, only the child is present, and the vazaha shows up, asking, "Where is your fokontany?" but the child doesn't understand. And so the vazaha who might have done some good for us here just wanders about because the child is ignorant. That's why it's a good thing for those children to be learning. For now there is mixing in this society. It's not like before where the children would simply run and escape into the forest, but now they will present themselves to the vazaha, so it's important that those children learn. That they may learn things like that--that's the yearning of our hearts. That what they gain at least is the knowledge to talk to those vazaha, so that when the vazaha asks the way, the child will be able to direct them, because the child will have learned, would have studied.

In that regard, is there someone who does development work in your area here?
Yes there are. There are many involved in development work here, and some succeed and some don't succeed. I was working the sea, diving for lobster, when Mompera (Father) Garido was doing the first development work down here. He and another from Ambovombe, whose name I have forgotten, who brought in many ploughs so we wouldn't have to weed by hand, but those were not successful. Then there was an organization going to give canoes, and that progressed for a while then ceased. Now at this time the vazaha named ALT is associating with us to do this sorghum thing, that's all that's here. Then there's another, in Antavy up there, run by an elder of ours called Tovonay, with a group called AFVP. Those are all the ones around us, and they are still there, considering that they were again in the commune yesterday. I saw that when I was at the market. The AFVP, that is. It seems to concern association work, considering these here have also come, and it filled an armoire (filing cabinet) at the commune yesterday. Then there's that other vazaha. I've forgotten his name also, maybe with the PSDR, regarding animal husbandry. But the problem with that one is that only those who receive from them are the owners of it, for that PSDR does not care about us, the majority. But only that one person is benefiting from them and goes off to buy cattle and goats, and we don't see anything of -- that PSDR. But now this project of ALT brings us farmers together, and when the rains come and we plant, we'll be living. For we look forward to a harvest. And anyone who can cultivate, who can take care of it -- this sorghum provided by ALT -- there is muchwhich that will accomplish. It will clothe us, it will fill our stomachs, it will -- that will even serve to acquire cattle! [High and excited voice]. Who knows, it replaces rice, for when ripe and cooked it has vitamins.

Now let's say we had a development project in which you were made director, what kind of development project would you propose to undertake?
The work, aa, I'm not sure how that should go, but if it would follow that pattern brought by Mme Emelie and Tantely bringing this sorghum thing, saying here's something, and thus and so is the method of it, the programme of it, then I'd accept, and I'd do according to the guidelines they set forth.

What I really want to ask of you, let's say that you select a project of development, and it's said: Here, Mr. Randriamahefa, [this] is for a project, whatever you choose to do. Now what would you do?
What I'd really like to see done, that which is close to my heart, concerns these dunes. This one dune here (visible to the south) has six of our ancestors buried under it, and we don't know where. It's not only those graves that's it's buried, but even our fields below here in the wake are all being buried by it. It involves that hill of ours where our animals used to find shelter. For in faosa, our animals are fed mozotse (euphorbia) and that is where they are fed. But that thing is killing those [cattle] at this time. In the end this dune will cause a crisis for us. In regards development work then. That then, says my heart, would my heart yearn to work, that being killed (stabilised). I'd like to have an epicerie (grocery store), because those little stores bring an income. The epicerie isn't just for one person, but serves the whole community. If there was one here it would sell petrole (kerosene), and kiline (laundry detergent) and candy and all sorts of things, that is, if I built an epicierie here. Then another one would be put in Antanandava down there. So that the people would not have to wander around for an epicerie; that's the kind of development work I'd like to undertake, if it was just [down to] me.

Now we'll take a new topic. When a person has nothing, what would you call that person? A person who has no cattle no goats, nothing.
What we would call that person who has nothing is rarake, rarake, that's what he'd be called. The word rarake actually has two meanings. What we call that dune, that hill of sand over there is rarake11, the sand blown by the wind is what makes it rarake, but one who has nothing is also called rarake, but in a language that everyone would understand we'd say tsy manan-draha (has nothing), synonymously that person would be called rarake.

To you then, how would you distinguish that person over there who's a mpañarivo (rich) or that person who's rarake?
The rich is easy to distinguish, seen in the distance, he's following a train, in the early morning he's with a train of cattle, and then the clothes he wears are different, not the same as those worn by the poor. When a dust-devil year goes by, a time of famine, you can see the rich in the market purchasing food, wouldn't a rich [person] be purchasing his food? [People would say]: "So-and-so just sold an ox." So they're living. 

The have-not is not purchasing, and you may find him begging, in fact the have-not will be begging. The poor will be begging in the market, that's what makes him rarake. Rarake is what we call the have-not. "Give," he says, at the bazaar and at the market, actually we don't have a bazaar only a market for him to beg at.

In your society do you have what who you would call rarake, saying: "There's so and so who is rarake."?
There are, but what distinguishes that person from a real rarake having nothing, is that they will have food to eat. He won't have a cow, won't have a sheep, won't have a goat; beginning with the goat upward he'll not have. But beginning at the chicken and including having food to eat, is called rarake.

To you then, what does describe the person who is rarake?
What I mean by rarake then is beginning at the chicken he may be raising, downward, and he has food to eat. But he who raises cattle, raises sheep, and raises goats, you can't call rarake, because those goats will build to an ox; if he has several goats they can be traded up to an ox. So he can't be called rarake, having goats or sheep. But beginning at the chicken and food, is called rarake. Even though they have that much but not an ox, they are called rarake.

What, to you, is the reason he doesn't have cattle or goats?
What made him become rarake? Well, it's according to his spirit; by his spirit I mean that Zañahare distributes in various ways. Sometimes he may have food (a harvest) but he doesn't want to sell any but keeps all for food. Another will have the harvest, sell some, purchase chickens, multiply the chickens and trade them for goats. Then raising goats he eventually purchases an ox. From the harvest then one can obtain cattle.

How, though, did that person become rarake? That's what I'd like you to elucidate.
Okay, what makes him become rarake is in his character, he may have but he plays with it, he eats of it, he drinks it (spends it on liquor). He has 30 head of cattle, let me explain, let's say I have 30 cattle. I can't wait with my cattle for that big sorrow, I can't have my cattle wait for the big famine, I can't save them for anything, but even though I'm satiated, I'm not in rags, I'm not starving, I'll mitrekatreka (jump around for joy) and sell my cattle in the market, but back at home there's food, at the village there's cash, so he'll part with it for drinking liquor at the market, he'll have women at the market, he purchases rice and meat in the market. Now rice and meat may be purchased but there are times for it according to our customs here in Androy, for if we have food we don't go out and purchase rice and beef. There is a time for rice and beef, we already having our food, and that time is when we open our hearts, then we buy rice and beef, and not every week.  But if I just bound around saying, "This rice is great, that suit is nice at the price of 50,000, 60,000 [ariary]; and I'll make mine be superior to another's," finally my cattle are gone on all those pleasures, gone on that liquor, gone on needing women, gone on those clothes, gone are the cattle, and I'm rarake.

Are there in your community those who have squandered their cattle in that manner until they had none?
There are, I've gone through that, I'm not going to tell about anyone else, but I'm the owner of that experience. For me in an earlier time, even though I have my understanding now, I was in the midst of that. There had been cattle, and possessions, then I womanised the whole country. And if you're spending all that, they will be willing even if it's a madame (woman of high standing) that you seek, likewise with drinking liquor. Then every Tinainy (Monday: market day; also the name of the market centre), or maybe not even market day if I sold cattle today, then drinking liquor in Tinainy until the sun sets, not having seen wife or children all day until caught by the morning. I've gone through that! But I changed my spirit and now I'm stable. What really made a rarake of me was drinking liquor. That was evil. I can say drinking liquor is utterly bad, it's like you're not in your spirit. Often when you're drunk with the liquor you'll hit someone, and if that person dies, then your cattle are wiped out right now, whether 20 or 30. At times that person is just injured, but do you think his family will cover his medicine? No way! You who were drinking will have to sell cattle to bring him to the hospital, and have him treated and support him while he whom you wounded is there. So that's how that was, and it all befell me, but I came to my senses, thinking, "I have many children, I have my wife, my mother is still around, I have many relatives around who don't approve of this performance, so I'd better get my spirit on an even plane." So at present, even though I might sell an ox, it will be when there is a severe famine, or a bereavement that requires the presentation of an ox. Or to treat my children if the treatment of their illness requires selling of an ox. But I will not sell any of them on a whim: my cattle, or goats, or sheep.

How many cattle ought you to have before you're called a mpañarivo a rich man having 1000 cattle) or rich?
To be a mpañarivo does not require one to have 100, one does not need 100 cattle to be a mpañarivo, but only 10 or 20 cattle.  If you know how to manage them and can sustain them according to your lifestyle, then you're a mpañarivo with that 20 head. On the other hand, if you have 200 or 300 head but you can't manage them, but have your will entwined in them, you're a mpañarivo today but rarake tomorrow, because you didn't know how to manage them. On the other hand, if you have those 300 and know how to manage them then you are a mpañarivo at the pinnacle. That's what a mpañarivo is among us in Androy.

What do you think about the lives of your children, will their lives be like yours or will they be different?
Their spirits--I can't say their spirits will be like mine, for each has her own spirit, as Zañahare made them. It might be that two of them will have a kindred spirit with me, and the eight have their own spirits, or it could be that they all have spirits resembling mine. So I can't predict how any of them will turn out, but the One that gave them that spirit does. I gave birth to them, not to their spirits.

But now about their livelihoods, if you have a daydream about that?
My daydream for them, I'd certainly wish that they would have my spirit, not the spirit of me that drank liquor! But of the spirit which considers suffering, and his household, and the sorrows that may befall, that they can be comforted in their hearts. That's what I'd hope for them, me being their father-and-mother (parent), and I pray that that's the way my children will be, and I guide them in that way. I educate them and admonish them that they complete their schooling for their own good; every night I'll tell them not to steal from people, not to hit the chickens belonging to another. So that's my hope and effort with them, in how they should be.

What is the expression for tafita (successful) and what should each person be advised to do towards being a success?
What people would understand by tafita is miavake (to be different). To be different is how one would consider the tafita, for according to their appearance you can tell that they have made it. I have been there also. Recall that first I went through the tsoke house, then a here house, and went through a board house, and now I'm dwelling in a stone house. So people see this and say: "He's made it, for he has completed many things. He has cattle, he's borne (children)." Ok, I might be tafita because I've borne, but I say I'm not yet tafita because I have not had one child completing school. I may have succeeded in some ways but I'm still not where I want to be, having children who have succeeded through school. In the one sense, from the point of view of others, I've made it, since they say: "That man is living in a rock house. He has a lot of cattle, he has offspring, Het ! Randiramahefa is tafita." For now I can have my children weed; in the time they're not at school I have them go out to the fields to do weeding, and they can each do a field of my weeding. I have a lot of food, but my food may not last until the rains come12, since my children are many. But to many, Randiramahefa has made it because even his fields have harvested well, but though they produce, the produce may not reach the rains (is insufficient to feed them until the rains finally come to produce another harvest) for the multitude of his children. Even his fields will not see weeds for his are children plenty enough to keep those out. That's of whom they would say is tafita.

What should one do then to become tafita per your thoughts?
According to my thoughts, if I can base it on my own experience, then one need only to hold fast to what he has. One should not let what one has be used to unprofitable ends, even if it's modest.  For no matter what one possesses, he needs to multiply it in order to have more. But if you have possessions, but seek hardships for  them (use them up on things that are unsuitable or will bring hardship, like alcohol or gambling), then they will not help you to succeed. Even if you only own 5000 and it doesn't go to liquor, it's not played around with, and it goes directly to a chicken, when the chicken bears (lays and hatches) and has 10 chicks, make it 11, then raises those, she can sell those at 3000 to 4000 apiece and it may be in the tens of thousands that those chicks will sell for, and that could purchase a sheep, so when that sheep/goat bears, that those chickens bought, then an ox may be purchased in time, because goats can add to an ox. For if the fund reaches 100,000 then there is enough for a calf.  Now if that 5000 had been wasted, and bought liquor, went to the need of a woman, or went to something of no use, then the 5000 would have shrunk, though it could have begun something, even in a modest way; especially if one had more and just played around with it, it would then not let you succeed. That then is what each person should do, to manage whatever he has to its fullest as it's intended to be, but of course if one is ill, he will take that fund, for the treatment of oneself is a priority.

Is there a day you can point to as being the one day above many that brought joy to your life?
There was. I woke up in the morning, and prayed to the Creator that made my feet and my hands. And I pray to Him about all that I will pass through in this day. Then I left and went out to the field. After I'd completed all my field work in my fields, I went down to the sea, I dived for lobsters and found a lot of money in that. I returned to the sea and still found some fish. Coming home I had my wife cook them up, so we ate fish, and still had the cash from the sea, and I'd completed all my field work, the sun set. That was wonderful, for all that I'd set out to do had prospered; that really pleased me.

So that's what brought you joy?
Yes, that did. But let's say I wake in the morning and my bedroom window is open, and here comes someone telling me that "Joe" has just died, at that time I'm not happy, for there is cause to be sorry, it's another path I must take, that sorrow or that bereavement over a loss, and that is another emotion that must be had--having heard the news of a death, that talili-fate (news of death), and so I'm grieved, and I go down to Antavy for that's where the deceased would be and mourn with those who mourn. That's another kind of day which does not bring joy.

Now we've been conversing for quite some time, over an hour….


1/ On the consent form he signed he states 49 years, a more likely age.

2/ This is the first house he has built that does not have an earth floor.

3/ Average exchange (1996 ariary = 1 US$) rate November 2009, Interbank rate, source: www.oanda.com

4/ Deda: a grapefruit sized shellfish also prized for its shell which buyers from Toliara export to China.

5/ Refers to a project of the Andrew Lees Trust.

6/ Androy has three seasons, Asara: Dec-Mar (rainy, hot), Asotry: Apr-Jul (cool and misty rains), Faosa: Aug-Nov hot, windy and dry.

7/ Whirlwind: in an ongoing sense: meaning drought, characterised by dust devils—spouts of sand whirled aloft by wind currents.

8/ The number of komity varies in this account from 11 to 14.

9/ This is common practice, the havoria (burials) were the only time that meat was traditionally eaten by everyone. 

10/ Translator's note: The consensus in Androy is that Boka is Angamae (leprosy), while Hona is closer in nature to anthrax, it being localised and gangrenous.

11/ Rarake is the root of mandrarake (to broadcast, as in sowing seed, or ‘pour out'). It is the word used for sand dune, as well as a poor person who has "poured out" everything and has nothing left. erstand we'but rarakeu call that person?   would you do?

12/ Translator note: the rains are supposed to come in December or January but this has not held true of recent years.