Madagascar through words, pictures and songs

Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, located near the southwestern shores of Africa. Because of the island’s remoteness, it has its own distinct culture, history, as well as unique wildlife and plants (about 80% of animal and 90% of plant species are endemites, existing only on Madagascar). In my presentation of Madagascar I will attempt to capture a more complete image of this wonderful island and its people, not only as a person whose first homeland was Madagascar, but also as someone who for the last 30 years has been living in Slovenia, where I also got my degree. Now people from other cultures talk to me about my homeland and I have learnt to see my country through their eyes.

Through my WORDS I convey the basic characteristics of the language, the island’s history and social life (religion, schooling, children’s games…). In this part I will also present my own life experiences in Slovenia, how I was both set apart from and connected with other people here in Slovenia by my cultural distinctness, and how this helped me come to the realisation that it can be a big challenge, but also a good experience that should be spread among people and help shape a culture of tolerance, harmony and respect.

With PICTURES I present the rich and unique wildlife and plant life of Madagascar, the beauty of the land and its people, as well as the achievements of Malagasy students in their struggle to reforest the red island (by planting trees).

Both of these parts are concluded with a MUSICAL part in which I display typical Malagasy instruments, as well as the instruments I’ve crafted myself. Then I play a few songs (both traditional and original) and finish this part with a short musical workshop: I invite students and teachers onto the stage, give them 16 different instruments (traditional instruments, my self-made instruments and drums), explain the basics of rhythm in Malagasy music, and then we play and sing about 2 to 3 songs.

The prime focus of my performance is COMMUNICATION between the children and the adults, as I attempt to show my cultural distinctness in a humorous, relaxed and playful manner. Furthermore, I seek to increase understanding for the people who are different and encourage children to accept diversity, distinctness amongst ourselves, and support a culture of tolerance and coexistence. Communication is based on HAIN TENY, the traditional culture of Madagascar.

The performance can be accommodated to younger (with more music, humour, playfulness with words) or older children (more history themes, culture, animal and plant life…). A special challenge to me are mixed groups of younger and older children, as I work even harder on communication, ethical subjects (diversity, tolerance) and especially music as the pivotal tool in my effort for cultural tolerance, coexistence, acceptance and respect.

Autor and performer: Joseph Rakotorahalahy