Antambahoaka

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Antambahoaka
Vieillard Antambahoaka.jpg
Elder of an Antambahoaka village, 1908
Total population
c. 50,000
Regions with significant populations
Madagascar
Languages
Malagasy
Related ethnic groups
Other Malagasy groups, Austronesian peoples

The Antambahoaka are the least numerous ethnic group in Madagascar. They inhabit a small region along the southeastern coast of Madagascar near Mananjary and share their origins with the partially Arab Antaimoro people.[1] [2] Around 50,000 people identified as Antambahoaka in 2013.[3] The Antambahoaka speak a dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group derived from the Barito languages, spoken in southern Borneo.[4]

Distribution of Malagasy ethnic groups


Culture[edit]

The Antambahoaka trace their history through the descendants of Raminia who came from Mecca between the tenth and the twelfth century. No one knows exactly who Raminia was and he did not die in Madagascar. Before leaving, he left the book The Sorabe, the sacred book of “great writings” written with the Arabic alphabet but in Malagasy. The books are interpreted by the katibo for the people. [5] Traces of Islamic customs can still be found in their culture including clan leaders refraining from eating pork. The Antambahoaka retained Islamized words in their vocabulary and some scholars still know how to transcribe their language in Arabic script. [6]

Islamic traditional dress worn by the mpanjaka (Kings), during the holidays, consists of a red fez and a loose garment with wide red and black stripes. Homes of the mpanjaka are used as a meeting room for the clan temple to worship ancestors. The house is a rectangular box with a gable roof and no veranda. It is often roofed with leaves of Ravenala and its walls made of falafa (ribbed leaves that are braided) and the floor made of spread Ravenala bark. [7]

The Sambatra[edit]

Every seven years, the Antambahoaka celebrate the Sambatra which they have been celebrating for centuries. The Sambatra is the ritual of a collective circumcision of the boys born in the seven years preceding the event that starts on a Friday and is a holy day for the Antambahoaka. It is a rite of passage that permits the Antambahoaka boy to gain the rights of an adult male. From this moment on, he will be integrated into the paternal clan and initiated into the life of the true Antambahoaka man and will make him a Zafiraminia, a son of Raminia. It not only is a major moment in the boys lives but also for the entire community. For one month, the Sambatra lets the Antambahoaka remember their origins and so honor Raminia as it was he who first circumcised his own son Ndohanina on a Friday (day of the kings) and passed the practice down to his people. The Sambatra takes place in a warlike atmosphere with soldiers; the boys fathers and their maternal uncles; a marching army led by the Antambahoaka general for each clan; and war reenactments. Sometimes the reenactments contain heightened violence to settle old scores. The long march on Friday heads toward the mouth of the Mananjary river to recall Raminia’s exodus and the whole event last four weeks. [8]

The fady (taboo) twins[edit]

For Antambahoaka, a Fady Kamamba (ancestral taboo) prohibits raising twins. Twins are considered a curse to the family and community by the Antambahoaka. If a woman gives birth to twins, she is expected to abandon them or face becoming ostracized by the community and often causes the abandonment of one of the newborns. This practice is regularly denounced by national and international bodies, but the custom is deeply rooted. [9][10]


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bradt & Austin 2007.
  2. ^ Ferrand 1902, p. 12.
  3. ^ Diagram Group 2013.
  4. ^ Ogot 1992.
  5. ^ Light Mediation, 9 April 2008. The Sambatra : the collective circumcision rite of the Antambahaoka.. Light Mediation. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  6. ^ Madagascar Guide. The Antambahoaka. Madagascar Guide. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  7. ^ Madagascar Guide. The Antambahoaka. Madagascar Guide. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  8. ^ Light Mediation, 9 April 2008. The Sambatra : the collective circumcision rite of the Antambahaoka.. Light Mediation. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  9. ^ Slate Africa, 14 October 2011. twin cursed by custom.. Slate Africa. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  10. ^ This is Africa, 8 May 2014. ‘cursed’ twins taboo. This is Africa. Retrieved 15 April 2015.

Bibliography[edit]