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Madagascar News Forums The Transformation of Antananarivo Reply To: The Transformation of Antananarivo


Among the popular songs created during the first period of the evolution of merina music, organist Marie-Robert Rason, master chapel of the catholic cathedral of Antananarivo in the early 1950s, noted for example a “Mélopée sung to The occasion of circumcision “. On entering, he discerns three “qualities in opposition”: the suppliant invocation of all women to the divinity (religiosamente), weeping at the approach of the blood that is going to be shed for the first time, and joy at the prospect that The circumcised child will later become a courageous man.
Traditional circumcision, as we know, takes place in winter on the Highlands. The ceremony begins the day before the operation. “On that day, in the main hall of the house, in the north-east corner, Anjorofirarazana or Corner of the Ancestors, a fototra or trunk of banana tree is planted at the end of which a Malagasy candlestick is inserted. This fototra, on which is lit a torch coated with tallow, serves as a luster to the dancers and singers who must spend the night watching. It is fady (taboo, forbidden) to let out this fire until the operation takes place in the early morning. “
At dawn, the mother of the child circumcises, stifling the emotion that begins to shake her heart, invites parents and friends to go to the “Anjorofirarazana”, place always considered favorable. After tightening her waist firmly with her lamba, to show her son the courage that one must have in face of danger, she prostrated herself face to face. The sacred hymn comes from his trembling lips; The other women, compassionate, resumed in chorus.
In front of the door, men and young men are ranged, girded with the traditional salaka or loincloth, armed with spear and shield. When the first notes of the hymn intoned by the mother of the child reach them, they walk away alert to the conquest of the strong and holy water (“rano mahery sy masina”) necessary for the ceremony. They will draw it from the most limpid source they will find very far.
The most valiant of the troop opens the march, carrying on his head a calabash in which the sacred water will be collected. Along the way, the air echoed from the shouts of their voices, intoning not a hymn of war, but “a recitative” rhythmic with frenzy. “Child, you will be like the eaglet hatched on the rock of the highest summit, you will have strength and vigor, all will yield to your will, you will be valiant and fearless, take an example on us. “
These men run, fly, break all the obstacles that present themselves to them. Along their passage, stone jets of which they laugh, welcome them. It is the custom to throw stones at those who collect the water destined for circumcision, to give more value to the conquest of this water. At the end of their exploits, they return to the hut, breathless but proud, shouting “Zanaboromahery! (Son of a sparrowhawk). The “rano mahery”, awaited with impatience, is greeted with an exclamation of joy.
The operation can begin. To stifle the child’s complaints, the women surrounding the anguished mother, kneeling, sing the rhythmic recitative. On their side, men are busy. One of them beats the “hazolahy” (literally virile wood) in front of the door, or an “ampongan’ny ntaolo” (drum of the ancestors). This elongated drum, whose sound is supported by the sound of the thunderbolts struck against the shields, accompany other men who exclaim “Lahy ialahy … be a man, O child, be valiant, be intrepid; Run without fear after fortune, she will smile at you … “The tintamarre will not cease until the end of the operation.
Another popular tune evoked by Marie-Robert Rason is the “Hymn in honor of the idol Ramahavaly”. “It is not lacking in attractiveness because of the 7th major of the second measure, the very fast chord of fa but resolves on the sensitive to the dominant, and again without preparation to the fourth.”
A third popular song, very in vogue at the time, is entitled “O Ralila”. It is sung by the soldiers who, on leaving their native country, recommend to their families to bring their traveling effects which they enumerate in their song. Finally, another air is the one they sing when they are in the field in the distance, their thoughts flying to their native land. It is “Mazava atsinanana”, clarity in the East.