The Malagasy have a saying that goes, “Ny tain’omby mivadika aza tsy misy mpandray”, which translates into “Don’t flip over/take the cow dung”. This saying is one of the many adages that illustrate the fahendrena or wisdom that the Malagasy society used to live with, and is greatly missed today.
In the ancient days, Malagasy households used cow dung as a source of energy for cooking. But it can only be used when it is fully dry. As such, when someone finds a dung in the fields, they will flip it to dry the other side and they will come back several days later to pick it up and take it home. Once it is flipped over, no one else will touch it because it already has an “owner”. This is a cow dung in the nature, with no official proprietor, it doesn't even matter whose cows produced it, but one simple gesture suffices to define its ownership, and everybody respects that. That is how the Malagasy used to behave in their social environment.
Sadly, when we look at the Malagasy society today, it looks like the ntaolo Malagasy lived in an entirely different world, far from where the Malagasy live today. This is not to say that all Malagasy drifted away from their wise behavior, but this is nowadays the image and the characteristics of the Malagasy society in general. The booze’s story reflects how respectful, honest, and caring of the others the Malagasy used to be.
The Malagasy seems to have lost respect of just about anything, including themselves. Respect for the laws and regulations is almost nonexistent, you can see that in public offices and in the streets where no one respects the signs and signals, some would even ignore the police officers regulating the traffic. The law is just on paper. Respect for the elders is now part of history. Respect of public and private properties: stealing lights in the streets and breaking into people’s properties are common. Respect for others: today if you do not drive a big SUV or a luxury car, then you do not deserve respect. Respect of time, respect of cleanliness, respect of good things…the list is long.
Corruption reigns everywhere, from the bottom to the top of the administration. You cannot expect to get anything done if you do not pay some “extras”. Those who act correctly are now the aliens. Those who try to behave honestly have now become the enemy of the society. And the bad news is, things are not getting any better. It is killing the economy and rotting the mentality. Honesty is now a luxury the Malagasy society cannot afford, if it is not corruption then it is stealing, public funds and public materials are the top targets. And it is not only on the public side, treachery of all sorts happens among friends and between families.
Gone are the days where the Malagasy put its peers first. Selfishness and self-interests are now the principal motives. Just look at how drivers behave on the streets of Antananarivo. If you could read their minds, you could see them saying “I’m going first…I cannot yield…if I let this one pass, I feel like I’m a loser…I cannot give you the way…I have to be in front…my car is nicer than yours so why should I let you pass?...”. And most of the time, traffic gets worst because no one wants to give the way to the other, and instead of being 3 seconds behind the other, everybody is stuck there for 30 minutes. Taxibe drivers have no concern about the others, they stop in the middle of the street every 50 meters. Most of all, government officials do not care about the population, all that matters to them is their own bank accounts.
So, what happened? Poverty? Wealth? Education? Greed? Technology? Others?
Are people so poor that they would do anything to have something to eat? Are some people so wealthy that they ignore that there are other people around them? Has the education failed somewhere, somehow? Are people so greedy that they would sacrifice anything to quench their thirst for power and money? Has technology affected people lives so that social media has taken over the real social life?
Many reasons could be behind this regrettable transformation of the Malagasy society, but what is required to get it back to its original status?
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