is a country of polysyllabic words: The capital is Antananarivo
and provinces have names like Fianarantsoa, Toamasina, Antsiranana,
Mahajanga and Toliara.
In that vein, Lanto Hariveloniaina from
the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar accomplished the good soil-collecting
deed from Madagascar for our project. This soil, plus that
from Comoros, whose embassy is located in Madagascar, completed
the soils of Southern Africa. The collection location was
Lazaina, five kilometers from Ambohimanga Palace. This is
near the home of Mr. Hariveloniaina.
you, thank you, thank you.
* * *
is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast
coast of Africa. The main island, also called Madagascar,
is the fourth largest island in the world. Two-thirds of
its population live below the international poverty line
of US$1.25 a day. This island was created when it separated
from the Indian subcontinent 80 to 100 million years ago.
As time passed, it became a hub of trade
between Arabs, Persians and Somali traders who connected
Madagascar with East Africa, the Middle East and India,
creating a wealthy nation dominated at various times by
chiefdoms and monarchs. In the Middle Ages, Madagascar functioned
as a contact port for Sofala, Kilwa, Mombasa and Zanzibar.
Portuguese, French, and British began influencing this area
in the year 1500, interspersed with slave traders, pirates,
and missionaries. Queen Ranavalona I, “The Cruel”
(see picture), issued a royal edict prohibiting the practice
of Christianity in Madagascar, slaughtering 150,000 Christians
and bringing commerce to a standstill.
In the 1800’s France revived its interest
in Madagascar, annexing it in 1896 and sending the 103-year
ruling family of the Merina monarchy to exile in Algeria.
During World War II, some leaders in Nazi Germany proposed
deporting all of Europe’s Jews to Madagascar, but
nothing came of this. After France fell to Germany, the
Vichy government administered Madagascar. In 1942, British
troops occupied the island to preclude its seizure by the
Japanese, after which the French once more took over. In
1947 during the Malagasy Uprising 8,000 to 90,000 people
shed their blood on this soil. Finally on June 26, 1960,
the adoption of a constitution and full independence came
to this dramatic locale, followed by internal struggles
for control, which continue to this day.
the 10,000 plants native to Madagascar, 90% are found nowhere
else in the world. Mother Earth was prolific here, but human
activity destroyed a third of the native vegetation; 90%
of its original forest land; the elephant birds, lemurs
(right photo) and many other species, mainly due to habitat
destruction, hunting, mining operations, slashing and burning
(see erosion photo above left ). Agriculture, including
fishing and forestry have been mainstays of the economy.
When Coca-Cola switched to New Coke, involving less vanilla,
Madagascar’s economy took a marked downturn, but returned
to previous levels after the return of Coke Classic.
Baobab trees store water inside the swollen trunk (up to
120,000 litres (32,000 US gal)) to endure the harsh drought
conditions particular to each region. All occur in seasonally
arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during
the dry season.
leaves are commonly used as a leaf vegetable throughout
the area of mainland African distribution, including Malawi,
Zimbabwe, and the Sahel. They are eaten both fresh and as
a dry powder. In Nigeria, the leaves are locally known as
kuka, and are used to make kuka soup.
fruit is nutritious possibly having more vitamin C than
oranges and exceeding the calcium content of cow's milk.
Also known as "sour gourd" or "monkey's bread",
the dry fruit pulp separated from seeds and fibers is eaten
directly or mixed into porridge or milk. The fruit can be
used to produce cream of tartar.The seeds are mostly used
as a thickener for soups, but may also be fermented into
a seasoning, roasted for direct consumption, or pounded
to extract vegetable oil. The tree also provides a source
of fiber, dye, and fuel.
dry pulp is either eaten fresh or used to add to gruels
on cooling after cooking – a good way of preserving
the vitamin contents. It can also be ground to make a refreshing
drink with a pleasing wine-gum flavour. Pulp can be stored
for fairly long periods for use in soft drink production
but it needs airtight containers. It can also be frozen
if ground to a powder.
German explorer "Carl Liche" wrote an account
in the South Australian Register of encountering
a sacrifice performed by the "Mkodo" tribe of
slender delicate palpi, with the fury of starved serpents,
quivered a moment over her head, then as if instinct
with demoniac intelligence fastened upon her in sudden
coils round and round her neck and arms; then while
her awful screams and yet more awful laughter rose wildly
to be instantly strangled down again into a gurgling
moan, the tendrils one after another, like great green
serpents, with brutal energy and infernal rapidity,
rose, retracted themselves, and wrapped her about in
fold after fold, ever tightening with cruel swiftness
and savage tenacity of anacondas fastening upon their
tree was given further publicity by the 1924 book by former
Governor of Michigan Chase Osborn, Madagascar, Land of the
Man-eating Tree. Osborn claimed that both the tribes and
missionaries on Madagascar knew about the hideous tree,
and also repeated the above Liche account. In his 1955 book,
Salamanders and other Wonders, science author Willy Ley
determined that the Mkodo tribe, Carl Liche, and the Madagascar
man-eating tree itself all appeared to be fabrications.
people believe that trees are special on earth because they
are the one being that belongs to the three realms: below
the earth; upon the earth; and in the sky. The physical
reality of the tree reflects its capacity for binding these
corresponding spiritual realms together.
geography, cruel queens, takeovers by other nations, palaces,
Coke and the special baobob tree all have one thing in common:
they occurred/sit/grow upon the soil of Madagascar. We thank
our collector for this important collection. Or as they
say in Madagascar polysyllabics: Misaotra betsaka