My Malagasy Diaspora Tantara: Diaspora Stories Told Around the World
Today, an estimated 300,000 Malagasy people live outside of Madagascar and live all around the globe. No diaspora story is alike but what we share is that love and connection to Madagascar that we carry in our hearts, new hometowns, and life. Here are our stories.
Today: Luck ponders the question of how Malagasy am I?
Hey guys! My name is Luck Rasoanilana and I was born in Canada, raised in the US, returned to school in Toronto, and have lived here ever since.
I’ve never been to Madagascar, had a hard time learning Malagasy growing up, and - now that I live in a city with a small Malagasy community - rarely see Malagasy people. Which brings up the question: how Malagasy am I?
Answer: idk, but what I do know is, despite all that, Malagasy culture has had a massive impact on my life.
My family was and is super involved in the Tristate Malagasy community in a myriad of ways. For instance, from when I could walk to when I moved to university have my parents been taking me to Malagasy church; my dad was an integral part of the committee and so basically attending service was a part of our lifestyle. I’ve sung so many traditional songs, dictated so many tsianjerys, and listened to the toriteny so many times it’s a wonder I’m somehow not more fluent at the language.
Another thing my family always did was attend Malagasy parties. My parents knew so many people that they would regularly come up to me and be like “tell your parents I said hi” and I’m just like “sure stranger!” All jokes aside, I loved meeting new Malagasy people; it’s like finding those with whom I could identify in a world where it feels like there are so few of us outside of Madagascar. It helps that Malagasy music is incredible, unique, and fun; I can’t count how many people I’ve done the Afindrafindrao with.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I adore Malagasy food. Ravitoto is probably one of my top 5 all-time favourites: I’ve yet to find another dish with a competing balance of creamy consistency and fulfilling flavour. I’ve put several people on to Ravitoto assuring that, despite its unappealing appearance, it's to die for. I’ve tried a plethora of different Ravitoto recipes and loved every single one. It’s funny because I’m vegetarian now so if someone could give me a banger recipe without the henakisoa I would be forever grateful!
And I could keep rambling on about so much more, but lastly, I want to highlight the impact of my Malagasy friends. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of some of the moments we had: writing songs together and performing (shoutout to Censored 321), practicing basketball for RSM in the dark at random North Jersey parks I’ve never heard of, driving down to Florida and back, having parties (shoutout to the FMG), going ice skating, going to museums, generally exploring NYC, the list doesn’t end. I’ve been through tons with my Malagasy friends and having left that behind still makes me sad.
So we revisit the question: how Malagasy am I?
I guess factually speaking I’m Canadian, spent the majority of my life in New Jersey, and grew up under Malagasy traditions.
Spiritually speaking, I guess I really don’t know the answer to that, but I know that I love Malagasy culture and miss it dearly.