Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winged Words?

So, we have a new president, an officially inaugurated, recognized head of state.

This is V-E-R-Y good news, I find, even though it may not be the president many people had hoped for. My first impressions of him are good. Many of my diplomat friends were able to attend the ceremonies. They agreed on the following:

1- the ceremony was poorly organized (not enough seating, unclear instructions, messy parking situation,  a convoy at snail's pace)

2- his inauguration speech was strong, positive and hopeful. Words with lots of meaning, and character. Like:  Je demande donc à mes amis de me laisser libre, libre d'aller vers les autres, vers celui qui n'a jamais été mon ami.  I ask my friends to let me be free, free to go towards others, even to the one that has never been my friend. 

We all thought we understood where these words came from. The president is under a lot of pressure to choose certain candidates in his cabinet. But he does not want to be forced to work with anyone, he wants to allow for space and cooperation, even with the opposition and the ousted president. Again, very positive!

Hery Sarkozy?
Flying words
Until three days after, then the whole world knew where these 'winged words' came from. From the inauguration speech of Nicholas Sarkozy, in February 2007. Hery's speech was an exact copy of the former French president's! He just replaced 'France' by 'Madagascar'.  Hard to believe? Check the video here.

Winged words...where does this expression come from? From Homerus, as Wiki explain: words that fly from one person to another. Exactly!

p.s. winged or not, Hery's speech writer was sacked immediately...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


It's 'official' now. Madagascar is in the Guinness Book of Records as the country with the head of state with the longest name ever. After 5 years of paralyzing crises, the Special Electoral Court has pronounced that Hery Rajaonarimampianina has 'won' the elections by 52% of the votes. 

I doubt that he actually received more votes than his opponent Robinson , but the 'Special Court' chose to ignore each of the 300 (!) electoral complaints filed by his opponent.

My driver is convinced: Hery is president NOW but he has not WON the elections. 

The president's full name is: Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina Rakotoarimanana. 

Hery what?? 

Oh...cmon, did you at least TRY to pronounce it? 

Anyway, if you happen to meet him, you may want to simply say: Monsieur le president....right?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thank You Generous People in Tana!

Last weekend's first episode of Les Courses du Coeur (Groceries from the Heart) was a huge success!

Most clients who did their shopping at Jumbo or Leader Price have given something to help street and other vulnerable children in Tana. The four beneficiaries are:
  1. Akani Fitahiana's children ( in Akorondrano
  2. Les Graines de Bitume ( 
  3. Grandir Dignement  (www.grandirdignement)- helping children in prisons
  4. Centre Sainte Marie - orphanage in Mamasina
We received hundreds of kilos of rice, boxes full of cooking oil, immense piles of biscuits, milk, sardines, dried beans, pasta, noodles, soap bars, dish liquid etc etc...

Old and young, Malagasy or foreign, rich or poor, everyone gave something!

Thank you also to the sponsors: Telma Foundation, Croustipain, Infinithe

Philippe and me in front of Jumbo Supermarket

Jeremie  is contributing too

Young and old are giving

Two boys making a generous rice donation

Sara Georget of the Green Party is happy with the initiative
that avoids plastic bags too!
This is just a small part of the collections, in 6 supermarkets at the same time

Boxes full of food

Vivianne of Telma Foundation lending a helping hand

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cheers, Proost, Sante and SKOL!

Having a blog is fun.

I enjoy it when unknown people contact me with questions or requests. Over the years I've been asked to participate in TV programs, host travelers or send items. Mostly common ones like post cards but also more unusual ones such as tea bag labels and once, really, a bat skeleton. When I can, I happily grant the request, despite logistical challenges.

Post cards are not difficult to buy, but stamps!? I don't even know where the post office is here in Tana, after three years! Neither did I know there are so many we sites by post card collectors. I imagine it to be fun to complete a collection with an exotic card from far-away Madagascar - like this one I sent

Post cards around the globe

A while ago an email of a certain Wilbur reached my inbox. Explaining how he had built up an impressive collection of  beer cans (empty) over the years. And that he would love to add a specimen from Madagascar. Three Horse Beer (THB) is the most classical beer here, and recently we have Madagascar-brewed SKOL beer (our favorite).

I packed the two empty cans with bubble wrap and send them off with a traveling friend. The cans went from Tana to Paris, from Paris to Washington and from Washington to ... Brazil.

Wilbur had over 8,000 beer cans from 91 countries. Now 92!

Proudly showing his Mada beer cans in front of  Oliveira Bridge in Sao Paulo
Anyone willing to send an exotic beer can to Wilbur, contact me.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy 2014 Madagascar!

Dear Madagascar,
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year. May 2014 be healthy and prosperous. May it bring economic growth and a more wealth for the 92% of your population that currently live with 2 USD (!) a day or less. So that they can afford to buy shoes...

I also wish for you to attract new investors and foreign aid. With that, may you invest in your deteriorating infrastructure; roads, power and water projects which have suffered tremendously due to unrepaired damages from cyclones and severe budget cuts while there's been zero maintenance in the past four years.   (I am not counting the rugby stadium and the Coliseum music dome, I am referring to useful projects). 

May you then also invest in your ailing agricultural sector which has so much potential (rice, vanilla, dairy, horticulture, fruits) but suffers from drought, floods, and locusts infestations and a total incapability to buffer these threats. May you protect your incredible nature and biodiversity, stop deforestation, provide alternatives to charcoal, and invest in renewable energy sources. Oh and while your at it, ban the use of plastic bags. You were doing so well with your raffia baskets, but recently the country is as polluted as a garbage belt.

Madagascar, I wish you peace and wisdom. May your new leaders - whoever they will be in 2014 - be wise and honest. I wish your leaders integrity to combat the rampant corruption in key sectors like justice, police and forestry. I wish them commitment to a transparent use of public funds and to restore the private sector's faith so that it can create the much needed jobs. 

Madagascar, I wish you compassion and generosity to look after the mentally and physically handicapped, the homeless and the street children, and that nobody has to eat out of the garbage containers.

And lastly Mada, I wish you lots and lots of toilets and latrines, so that I (am I being selfish here?) don't have to watch your people relieving (and revealing!!) themselves in public.

Madagascar, the past four years have brought you nothing. You deserve progress!


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