Welcome to out latest series titled Ry Tanindrazana Malalako or My Beloved Homeland!
Tanindrazana in the grand sense means Madagascar but it also directly translates to “the land where your bones/ancestors lie”. We wanted our readers to rediscover their family ancestral lands and homeland and share with the world why the sense of tanindrazana is so important to maintain.
Today: Our contributor Lenny shares his hometown of Ankofika, Manjakandriana and what it is like to live there. Although a super rural and farming village with little resources, he describes how the people are resourceful, kind, and make the best of what they have.
Ankofika Manjakandriana is a small town in the district of Manjakandriana where I was born. To get there, you will take the National Road RN2, about 2.5 miles before reaching Manjakandriana, then take the dirt road on the left side, drive about 5 miles and you will arrive at the commune of Ambohibary, once again continue for another 2 miles and will arrive at Ankofika. If you continue on that road, you will reach a paved road that will take you to, 12.5 miles away, the town of Talata Volonondry, the place famous for its succulent koba and delicious Malagasy sausages.
Ankofika is a hamlet of 50 houses, its inhabitants are majority farmers, planting mainly potatoes and rice, and just like many farmers in Madagascar, they raise zebus. When the daily product factory Tiko was still running, they used to supply milk for them. They do not worry about electricity bills and JIRAMA’s cutoffs because they use candles for their lights and woods for cooking (not good for the environment but they do not have a choice). They do not worry about water bills because they get their water from a natural source. They also don't have to worry about gas prices and car insurance because they do not own cars, they walk or charrettes (carriages), and they take the taxi-brousse for long trips. They really live with the bare necessities. Maybe it is the reason why honesty is still one of their qualities.
There are two grocery stores in the village carrying essential products such as sugar, edible oil, coffee, rice, candles and a larger grocery store and a butcher in Ambohibary. For fancier items, they have to go to the tsena of Manjakandriana which takes place every Saturday. But when we visit, it’s always a pleasure to distribute used clothes to the kids, and sometimes to the adults when the size fits.
There is one public elementary school and one public middle school in the village. They need to go to Ambohibary for high school, and if they need to go to college, for which the probability is extremely low, the nearest ones are in Antananarivo.
Ankofika is surrounded by rice fields and a forest of eucalyptus dominates its scenery. The air is pure and fresh. During the winter season, it gets really cold and freezing light rains can be very annoying. But it remains always green because eucalyptus is an evergreen tree. During the rainy season, going to Ankofika can be quite a challenge because the dirt road turns muddy and slippery, you'll need a good SUV to ease the trip.
It is fady to bring live pig and onion in the village. The reason is not clearly known but it is a tradition passed on by the ancestors. When someone in the village does the famadihana, the population from the surrounding villages are invited ans servec rice and meat. It’s fascinating to see how they cook to perfection hundreds of pounds of meat (zebu and pork mixed), it’s tender and tasty.