Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vakio Milamina: Loved It Because It Gives You the Inside Scoop (Madagascar)

Vakio Milamina 
Loved It Because: it gives you the inside scoop on the culture and politics of Madagascar. Soamiely is the rare Malagasy author who writes in (great) English about these things.  I lived in Madagascar for three years and often read Soamiely's posts on Medium but it was only once I was back stateside that I realized that he'd written two books (his other: Ambony-Ambany (Upside Down) is available to purchase on  

Vakio Milamina (i.e., A Quiet or Smooth Read) lays out the author's thoughts on life in Madagascar through a series of very loosely related essays.  In particular, I loved "It's All Part of Growing Up" which is basically a 6 page rundown on the political history of Madagascar.  Other essays like "Fiadanana and Moramora" made me laugh--moramora IS the quintessential essence of being Malagasy (from a vazaha aka foreigner perspective).  It captures the incrementalism of progress (or de-evolution) and a peace with slowness that one notices even after only a few days in the country.  Perhaps most useful for any visitor/tourist is his essay "Our Unambiguously Ambiguous Art of Conversation" in which the author lays out why a Malagasy will seldom ever say 'no'.  If I had realized this early on I would have saved myself a lot of stress and frustration. But there's no reason to read just one essay--Vakio is the wonderful book that can be read in a single sitting or on a short plane ride.  You'd also be well served to follow him on twitter at @soamiely 
*One of my Reading Around the Continent books--the full list is here.

**See our 2017, 20162015 and 2014 Reading Lists.  

***Want to read more on Madagascar, check out my compilation of posts from our three years there here.  

18 reciprocity ingrained in Malagasy culture
21  why there is the cycle of Malagasy political violence: 2 options for presidents
22  'in politics I have no relatives'
40  art of conversation--not every saying outright 'no'
42  until society explodes
44-7  Embracing a culture of failure in policy-making
68-74  Great summary of Malagasy political history
79-83  fiadanana and moramora!
83-87  How to make change and progress
98  TNR airport 

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