The Malagasy have the following phrases: "manjifa vita gasy" which translates into "consuming Malagasy goods and services" and "hita mihintsy hoe vita gasy" which means "it's obvious this is Malagasy made". These phrases demonstrate a deep divide in the perception of our local products.
"Vita Malagasy" translates literally into “done Malagasy” or “made Malagasy”, which reflects the know-how and the value that we put into our finished product. As Malagasy people, we ought to praise our know-how, but under which circumstances?
I have a couple of questions for you to think about: Where do we really position the "vita Malagasy"? When many campaigns are made to push us towards consuming what is produced locally, what is our first choice in the market and why? On one hand we have the product and on the other the market. Let's dig deeper.
A word we might be very familiar with in Madagascar is "misera" which means to deal, a word that has been used at least 1 time in a year by a youngster. Over 44,000 people are following a group on Facebook called "Gasy Tia Misera" or "Gasy who like to deal" and products that are sold there are mostly imported. Online sales are starting to go pretty well in the country. In another Facebook group, around 3000 people are following a page called "Gasy tia vita Gasy" or "Gasy who like Malagasy goods and services". We can definitely see the trend in consumers seeking more imported goods here.
Madagascar produces many things ranging from agriculture, essential oils, chemical products, textile and accessories to wood for construction and of course services. To mention a few, we must all be familiar with vanilla of Madagascar, "artisanat malagasy" or Malagasy handicraft, products made from raffia, chocolate from Madagascar, and our succulent and juicy litchi which are carrying our flavors, know-how and culture all across borders.
We have excellent products and services and it reaches the standards of quality that is required to satisfy foreigners' needs. It is to say that we too should know that Malagasy goods are made for us as well, to satisfy our needs and please us. The value that we give to our culture also lies in how we value our producers, our entrepreneurs, our searchers, our farmers and workers who try their best to deliver goods and services that are as good for us as they could be for anyone else. Giving credits to our know-how is giving value to our producers' time, the way they hold onto tradition while doing what they do, it is all the goodness and richness of our lands put into one product.
As a Malagasy consumer, valuing Malagasy goods is also encouraging those same producers to create better products, teaching those who might not be aware that fulfilling a need is not just the end result of a product. Making them believe that their growth is a pillar to something greater than just making more money. And that is something every Malagasy person should preach.
How would you talk about a Malagasy brand if someone asked you to suggest one to them? The other day I was reading a story where someone talked about 5 different Malagasy chocolate brands, shame on me cuz I have never heard about 2 of them. How many Malagasy brands do you know? What arguments would you present as a unique distinction of Malagasy goods? What value do you "honestly" give to malagasy goods and services?
The "haitao" or the know-how is defined as the knowledge of all the rules and regulations that enable one to use a certain material or do a task in order to create something; the right way to do something. Where the part that makes it Malagasy or "ny maha-Malagasy azy" is what we want to know more about. Ever heard the phrase "reharehako ny maha malagasy ahy"? What does it really mean? While we attempt to answer that question, you should reflect on what makes you or a product Malagasy as well.
Mofogasy, rap gasy, akoho gasy, alika gasy, vary gasy, vilany gasy, hira gasy, viavy gasy, teny gasy, dihy gasy, and many more; all those words respectively gave us an inner feeling and that feeling is the position we give to the adjective "gasy" in our mind. These associations using Gasy in conjunction with objects have positive meanings for us. However, there there is the more negative connotations and phrases such as, "tony tena gasy mihintsy", "ilay gasy hoa dia..." , "gasy foana!!", "hita mihintsy hoe vita gasy", and what more have you heard. Told you it's a confusion of two different feelings!
"Ny maha-Malagasy azy" (what makes it Malagasy) is a culture, so while building creating a product, while harvesting is good, while providing a service, it's the "toe-tsaina and fotom-pisainana" (mindset) for me, it's the "haitao malagasy" for me, it's the efforts to reach the international standards for me, it's "Malagasy goods and services are a reflection of who we are as Malagasy” for me.
Either you are a Malagasy producer, a collector, an entrepreneur, a searcher, a creator, an artist or in anything that can showcase that you belong to Madagascar, make sure you show that we owe it to ourselves and people to praise our know-how in what we provide, to whomever we might provide it for, Malagasy or not.