Rivo, a Malagasy talent to discover.

By Bijoux Raharinesa

“…I have always dreamt of being an artist.”

26 year old Malagasy singer Solofotiana Andrianarivo Ratsimanetrimana (shortened for Rivo, know under the artist name Riv O’Nat) has been living in South Africa for more than three years. Now starting his carrier as a singer, the Malagasy compositor Rivo had the privilege to open “the Festival of the Francophonie” with his band in March this year.

The young singer and songwriter left Madagascar in 2013. His career came out of nowhere he said. While studying another course, he discovered his passion for music. He then integrated the Academy of Sound Engineering based in Johannesburg. Following his dad’s footsteps, Rivo liked performing and singing at a very young age. He had participated for different school events to show his talent.

Actually doing his 3rd year in music studies, Rivo is determined to conquer a large diversity of public, form Senegal, to South Africa and finally land where his roots are, in Madagascar. He uses different languages such as French, Spanish, English and Malagasy to spread his message of love.

Apart from music, Rivo likes playing tennis and hanging out with his friends. He is family orientated and get homesick once in a while, but always put in mind his goals and objectives: “I am here to do my best and succeed”. The charismatic gentleman is determined about his started carrier, and put forward his Malagasy identity whenever he goes. The ambitious man who is ready to conquer the world does not shrink from anything. Rivo stated that music evaluates with time and can be personified, “actually, everybody can have their own version.”

Often portrayed as the “guy with the strange accent”, Rivo had never faced any racial issues in South Africa. Indeed, he embraces his culture and add that “Culture is something that has been agreed upon a community to form its identity. Music is one big aspect of that. Culture expresses the moral of a community and so does music”.

Rivo performed for the first time at the “Alliance Française” of Pretoria. He opened up the festival of the Francophonie that consists of a cultural exchange between the French countries around Africa that use French as a first or second language (Gonthier 2007, p.10).

Felling honored to represent his country, Rivo called for “firaisan-kina” through his music. It means fellowship or in a more explicit way: “standing together, working together” stated Rivo in the interview. The singer is attached to his Malagasy identity. It brings positive points towards his carrier as the audience is curious to discover more about his country, since the release of the cartoon Madagascar.

During two days, Riv O’Nat was performing in Pretoria and the spectators were all satisfied. South Africa is one of his target audience, now one goal has been achieved for Rivo, but there still a long way to go. His style of combining the languages, marked the public.

“Tomboka” as his first album’s name captured his fans attention. The cultural mixture that the singer includes in his composition resume the diversity of Madagascar. “To me, Francophonie is more of that state of being open to the world. The world has different countries with different cultures but all can be brought as one.” The singer released his first single on the 5th of April in sponsorship of the NGO “Love your neighbor Madagascar”.

REFERENCE:

Gonthier, J 2007, La Francophonie dans le monde (Francophonie around the world), Nathan, Paris.

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My roots, my culture, Madagascar a country to explore.

By Bijoux Raharinesa

People have a broad definition of culture. If I have to define it, I would say: “heritage”. It summarises what I inherited from my ancestors, my family and the society in which I grew up. Those are the three principles that raised me to become who I am today. Travelling from Madagascar to South Africa, my integration in the new system was not easy. In sought for better qualifications, along my journey to South Africa, I felt the importance of my culture being part of me. It is not something that I chose, but something in which I was born into. My language, my roots, my identity these entities were involved when I emigrated to this side of the continent.

Identity can be transformed but culture will stick with you. The main reason I chose this topic is that through my travel to South Africa, I became aware of my roots, who I am, and where I stand in order to progress. Many are the challenges that I faced as being classified as foreigner and finally called “coloured”. A term which due to my upbringing and background was initially of discomfort towards the values and beliefs that I hold. I would then understand that every country has its particularity. However, in Madagascar, there is no such thing as race. The perceived “rainbow nation” had categorised me as being coloured, a term which I personally felt had nothing to do with the understanding I held with regards to myself. I just wanted to be identified as a “Malagasy”, a proud Malagasy daughter of the Betsileo tribe.

New from secondary school, I could see the changes. Having been taught in French my entire life, the transition to learning in English made me realize the important role that my favorite French writer, Moliere, has had in building and curving my use and understanding of certain “works”. Suddenly, I had to shift to English when French has been both a medium of instruction and part of my culture.

Some of my teachers helped build up my roots, so that I may not forget where I come from.

As a village girl, coming to the city for the first time, my cultural identity is continuously challenged whenever the need to explain my country arises.  Journeying to South Africa has opened my eyes to a great length, as such I have reached the conclusion that my culture forms part of my identity, it lingers with me wherever I go. Culture has taught me the value of family and the importance of customs, particularly those of the Betsileo people.

Madagascar is a country with multiple facets, the land that was separated from the Pangaea towards the open sea of the Indian Ocean. We are the tail situated south west of the African continent with a rich population of 25 million and accounting for 18 tribes within 22 regions of the total 6 provinces that form the country, according to Mada Magazine.

Being part of the prideful tribe of the Betsileo, we are situated in the Southern high land of the country in opposite to the Merina. The tribe is divided in two small regions: Haute Matsiatra and Amoron’i Mania. French and Malagasy are the official languages in Madagascar and the latter took its origin from Bantu, Arabic and Austronesian language. The Betsileo tribe speaks one of the 18 tribes’ dialect. The sound pattern is similar to the southern Asian language. The only difference from the official language and the Betsileo dialect is the accent, otherwise everything is almost the same. (Campbell: 1952)

In terms of sport and entertainment, the young males practice what is called “savika”. It is bull-riding, the Malagasy version of the Spanish rodeo. It is a sport practiced to court the young ladies. In opposition to the rules of rodeo, the aim here is just to take the bull by the horns, not to kill them. Savika started in the rice field and emerged to the public field to entertain the population. This sport is played by many young gentlemen who ride the zebu (Malagasy version of bull) at the same time. Waiting for their turn around the arena, each “mpisavika” (the rider of the zebu) will get his turn to show his skills. Savika is practiced once or twice a year in Ambositra, capital of Amoron’i Mania region. (Parker: 1883) The municipality organizes the event in collaboration with different singers while the “mpisavika” are doing their show.

Betsileo people are spiritually connected to their ancestors and the Zanahary (God). They believe that the ancestors are protecting them, so to thank them, every seven years, the “Famadihana” (turning of the dead) is practiced. It consists of recovering the dead with a new lancet. (Jaovelo-Dzao: 1993)

The celebration takes place during three days according to the budget of the family or even five days if they are fortunate enough. Dancers and music are planned ahead before the day of the famadihana arrives. The people take out the dead out of the tomb and rewrap them with a new lancet, to then dance around the tomb. They believe that it is a way to thank the ancestors. (Graeber: 1993)

To escape from reality whenever I am home sick, the traditional music reminds me where I am from, my vanilla island, the one that I left five years ago. Madagascar, the mother, the mixed island where I belong to, the Betsileo dialect, savika or the famadihana are now part of me and I am aware of their existence. From the language to the origin of the people, the diversity of the landscape that offer the impression of traveling to a different country every time I reach another region. Those are the images that are left in my mind whenever I miss home. They are reminding me of where I am from and where I am heading: “South Africa, a welcome land where adult life will begins.”

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A sad reality.

Madagascar is streaming the web this week with a photo of a young French boy selling samosa in the tourist town of Majunga.

It all started when a girl posted a picture of her on social network Facebook with the boy. He sells samosa at the beach town of Majunga for a long time. A Facebook user, Maga Vinc had a small talk with him and says that he is very welcoming. She was shocked to hear the teenager talking to in Malagasy. He also confessed to her that he does this job because of his family needs. His father, a French had left him alone with his mother. He cannot go to school because of his situation.

In one of the poorest countries in the world, the level of child labour is still very elevate. In a world of injustice, this boy suffered the consequence of the breakdown of his parents’ choice.

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A sad reality

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The post that shocked people on Facebook 

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The boy that sells samosas

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Here is the Maga Vinc testimony of the boy.

A sparkle of hope can lead you to success.

All the way from Madagascar, Tahina Randrianarimanana won the first prize of Anzisha Prize, taking place in Johannesburg South Africa on Monday this week. His start-up Fiombonana –meaning union in Malagasy- allowed this young orphan to become the best young entrepreneur in Africa.

Tahina Randrianarimanana does not have a degree in commerce and he even had a difficult start. Shortly after his birth, he lost his mother and never knew his father. His grandmother took care of him. When turned 16, he is forced to abandon his studies to work as “a researcher of water” and snacks seller in his native village, Faratsiho. Gradually, he founded Fiombonana, a small food company that sells in the capital of Madagascar products from fruit and dairy products. Indeed, it is in some ways a union of farmers of his native region.

At just 22, Tahina is the Anzisha Prize’s winner of the competition, African award for young entrepreneurs on the continent. He won a funding of 32,500 dollars to support her little solidarity and social purpose company. Andry Ravololonjatovo, his translator is the one who accompanied him during his journey in South African.

In a poor country in crisis, where success is difficult, stories like those of Tahina give hope.

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Tahina Randrianarimanana

 

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The winner of Anzisha price 2016.

Sources:

L’Express de Madagascar, available at http://www.lexpressmada.com/blog/actualites/anzisha-prize-un-malgache-elu-meilleur-startupper-de-lafrique/

Blod de Madagascar, available at http://blogdemadagascar.com/un-paysan-malgache-devient-un-champion-africain-de-lentrepreneuriat/

Hosting the COMESA meeting for 2016.

The meeting of COMESA (Common Market form Eastern And Southern Africa) started on Saturday the 10th of October. Madagascar joined the trade area in 2000, after its creating in December 1994.

The trade area have 19 active members, such as DRC Congo, Egypt, Kenya and 5 former members, like Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola. COMESA is  an expanded free- trade zone including members of two other African trade blocs, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).Their main focus is on the economic and the development of each country members.

On Saturday, the Malagasy Prime Minister Mahafaly Soloandrasana Olivier opened the meeting. His speech was highlighted the political stability after the crisis that Madagascar faced from 2009 up until 2014. The Prime Minister said that:”the establishment of security and the respect of the law are also part of the discussions because they can ensure a development.”

The main agenda that are in discussion are:

  • the establishment of security and peace
  • the respect of the Rule of Law and the the establishment of peace in Madagascar.
  • the industry sector between the member countries

The Prime Minister also stated that:”our regional meeting gives us each the opportunity we focus in depth to meet our challenges against poverty and offer a better conditions to our respective people existence.”

The PM opened the meeting which was also addressed by Secretary General of COMESA Mr Sindiso Ngwenya.

Sources:

  • Common Market form Eastern And Southern Africa, “COMESA Foreign Affairs Ministers in talks on regional security”, available at http://www.comesa.int/comesa-foreign-affairs-ministers-in-talks-on-regional-security
  • Afrcan Union, COMESA, available at http://au.int/en/recs/comesa
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CCI Ivato.

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Island vibe.

As we all know, Madagascar is a small island separated from the African continent by the canal of Mozambique. In terms of music, the coast have their specified vibe and rhythm. Each and every island have their own music and I want to describe you what is mine.

The other island that are near Madagascar have their style in terms of music, the zouk is very popular in La Reunion, one example of the famous group Kasav. In Mauritius is known as sega music, though reggae, zouk, soukous and other genres are also popular. In Comoros, they like twarab. Influenced by the music form Madagascar, the twarab is the Comorian version of the taarab genre of Zanzibar (part of Tanzania).

Concerning Madagascar, the seventeen tribes that are in the island have their specific music. As I stated before, in the coast they have a very rhythmic vibe. They like dancing, compare to the middle where people enjoy a slow rhythm.

For myself, even if I am not from the coast, I enjoy the hot vibe that the coast brings us in capital city. I will list you so example of the type of music that they have:

  • Antosy is from the North, it is like the ancient version of twerk
  • In the South, we have Kilalaka . People said that it was inspired by the thieves who are stealing the cows
  • Baoenjy is from the East, it is like a kind of sega, a couple dancing.
  • Basesa is from the West, also a couple dancing.
  • In capital, we have the called vakodrazana. A folklore musical that people liked to listen during their free time.

Now, all of these evaluated and we have a new rhythm on the coast called gweta. It is inspired by West African music. With the emergence of technology and communication, Malagasy musicians are inspired and incorporated their work with new changes.

I think, the African music has a lot in common in terms of rhythm. The collaboration between a Congolese singer and a Malagasy singer can summarize the diversity that Madagascar can be proud of.

Over warming.

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Joy, happiness, peace and tones of love happened during this week. It was test week in our institution, but for me, everything went well. From forgiveness to blessings, I just want to share with you my happiness. I started realizing that there are more important things to do and to focus on out there.

I start embracing life when I saw that I can do better than crying in my room for someone that erased me from his life. Faith and hope strengthen me day by day. I am not asking for attentions.

People around me were there and I did not see it until I moved out from that toxic relationship. A fight against life was engaged, in the sense that you have to live this life in a certain way. You have to be strong, you have to make things looking great. Beyond all of that, you have to face reality no matter how ugly it looks like.

So, this week was an amazing one, full of blessings. Good news came up form home, friends were supporting me and the last but not the least, family was there to put me on the right track.

I cannot describe my joy, you kwon that rhythm that keeps you dancing, you do not want the DJ to stop that song, you favourite one. Yes, it is that what I am felling right now. I was told to forgive, I did and now, it sets me free.