I am Joseph Rakotorahalahy and I came to Slovenia from Madagascar. I came here to study architecture during the time of Yugoslavia and the Non-Aligned Movement. Shortly after Slovenia’s War of Independence I gained Slovenian citizenship. After I graduated in architecture, I immediately began working on a doctorate on the spirituality of architecture. I worked in the fields of architecture, design and scenography. As a musician, I played in more than a few concerts, a lot of them were organised for charity purposes intended to bring people closer together, to shape a culture of tolerance and harmony among the people of our home – planet Earth. In my efforts of building a culture of tolerance and harmony I received financial support for several years in a row from the Ministry of Education and the Office of R.S. for Youth. The young from all across Slovenia gladly accepted my message of diversity and distinctness being a virtue inside all of us, as well as in others around us.
Music is my love, my passion. As a teenager, I quickly established a music group with my brothers called “Vahine”. We recorded a good number of short run vinyl records and songs – now evergreens on Madagascar. When I left to study abroad, it also meant the end of the band. In my new homeland, music became my greatest and most intimate partner in the entire universe. It was my helping hand in creating new bonds with others and allowed me to portray myself and my original home. Alongside the love of music, I was also gifted a strong sense for the power of words and a great sense of humour. This in turn, along with my uniqueness, cultural distinctness and my fight for survival in a foreign land, helped shape my occupation as a storyteller. In 2000, me and my brother’s band “Fenoamby” released an independent CD “Prišlo je pismo” (The Letter Has Arrived) here in Slovenia.
As the president of the organisation DREVO sozvočja (Hira TREE) I received an honourable title of GUEST STAR 2011 in the field of culture in March 2012. Guest Star is a campaign held by the Slovenia Times and Radio International, in which an expert commission and layman public pick the ‘brightest star’ every year among the foreigners living in Slovenia from various fields, such as diplomacy, economy, culture and sport. In the first half of 2018, I was presented as one of five Africans who had been living and working in Slovenia for over 30 years in an exhibition named “Africa And Slovenia” organised by the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum.
I am most proud of my greatest achievement in my entire life: my three daugthers Malala Tina, Tana and Tiara
I am MALALA Tina Rakoto Serban (artist name Malala). I have a B.A. in French Teaching and Sociology; however, I see myself more as a singer, as music is my inherited love and joy which has driven me ever since I can remember. My father’s lullabies placed a special love for Malagasy music. Along with music, I am also in love with dancing. I consider stories a precious part of my inheritance and I place great value on the ability to tell stories, which I am only really discovering now. I have been performing on various stages for over 20 years (Karaoke, Festival Melodije morja in Sonca – Melodies of the Sea and Sun Festival, Slovenian Song Festival, Festival Lent, Festival Sziget, …, in addition to this, I was selected for the European choir as a middle schooler). I am featured on two albums as the main female vocalist:
- ‘Prišlo je Pismo’ (“The Letter Has Arrived”), which was performed with my father and a band Fenoamby from Madagascar. We performed Malagasy music;
- the second album ‘Kar je, beži’, was performed with a Slovene band Tantadruj. We turned the poetry of France Prešeren into complete songs.
- Currently, I am working on my first album with my band MuraMura.
My position inside the DREVO sozvočja organisation is that of a lead organiser of our high profile “Concert for people and forest of Madagascar”, the primary ambition of which is to spread awareness about the deforestation of the island. Recently, I’ve translated a collection of traditional Magalasy tales, a first here in Slovenia, which I would like to present to students in Slovenia and eventually abroad. I enrich the telling of the stories (about community responsibility, coexistence with nature, nature conservation, relationship guidance…) with Madagascar’s music, traditional instruments and my own vocals.
I am Bernarda Kovačič Rakoto and I’m an agricultural engineer and pedagogue. I am the wife of Joseph Rakotorahalahy and the mother of our three daughters: Malala, Tana and Tiara. Throughout my 40-year-long partnership with Joseph, I have observed and studied how little I/we know in our cultural region about the culture, history… of Madagascar, a land that was primarily portrayed through the material poverty of the people, while the great interesting stories of this distant land were greatly overlooked. When I first visited this country, the homeland of my husband, I was amazed by the amount of such overlooked details and riches of the culture, yet disturbed by the exploitation of the people and nature; I was shocked to see that despite exploiting the land’s resources to such a great extent, the people were becoming increasingly more impoverished. Of all the aforementioned things, the most shocking was the absolute desolation of the island’s forests. Utterly appalled by the cut down regions which “scream at the sky”. My deepest wish is to support, especially my children, in discovering the hidden riches of this island and its people, so that we can all contribute a small piece to the restoration of this beautiful island’s forest.