Arambelo, the Museum of Androy
"Arambelo" is the ceremony that a father performs when his son goes to work outside Androy. The father mixes a little of his saliva with ashes of the hearthfire, and touches it to his sons forehead and heart, with wishes for his safe return. The Tandroy are simultaneously among the most enterprising and most conservative people of Madagascar. Many migrate from their drought-prone land to seek jobs elsewhere in the country. Many also return, having earned money to buy cattle to for a bride-price or to celebrate grand funerals.
Oxcarts travel fifty kilometers and more to bring water to remote villages:
here, through the spiny forest
near Bealoka village. © A. Jolly
The Museum of Androy is one of the very few museums outside Antananarivo. Devised by anthropologists Georges Heurtebize and Sara Fee, it is an inside view of the life of the people: environment, livelihoods, arts, and ritual. One room contains an entire house in the most traditional surviving style and a traditional coffin hewn from a tree-trunk, with photos and explanations of the pre-circumcision ceremonies and funeral celebrations.
The upstairs room shows women's arts: weaving and jewelry. Weaving and cloth have ritual as well as artistic importance throughout Madagascar, especially when cloth is used as gifts and shrouds for the dead. However, the "women's room" does not explain why Tandroy women are so proud and independent when they have almost no formal rights in this patriarchal society.
|Tandroy villages can look bleak and sunblasted, with tiny houses which are all that is needed for the living.
However if your house is piled with stored dry sweet potatoes, food is assured. (Genevieve, Gardienne of Naturaliste House).
© A. Jolly