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Dawn and Dusk in Anakao

My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Friday, 13 April 2012 | Views [300] | Scholarship Entry

At daybreak Aina lifts his scarred fisherman’s hand to the reed-thatched roof of his hut where a ring-tailed lemur sits majestically in front of the rising sun, her arms stretched wide. Energized by this solar meditation, the sociable lemur bends down and licks the salt off the back of Aina’s hand with the tenderness of ritual. 

Scouring the sea on the western horizon, Aina contemplates what nourishment the Mozambique Channel may provide today; perhaps a kapitan or some yellow-fin and skipjack tuna. He ponders how many fish he will trade for rice at the evening market while considering the recent rumours of a giant turtle washed up on the shore of a neighbouring village.

Heading towards his pirogue he trails a fishnet across the beach, the grains of sand under his feet more familiar than any soil. With ease, he and his son slide the flat-bottomed boat into the shallows to join an optimistic regatta of dugouts sailing into the open sea. The sun fails to draw a bead of sweat from the two dark and muscular bodies.

Drifting away, Aina looks back east towards mainland Madagascar and glimpses his daughter reclining in the shade as she masks her face with a moisturizing and protective earthy orange paste. Her hair is being arranged in neat cornrows and decorated with a miniature dried starfish by her kneeling mother. To the south, vazaha (foreigners) can be seen surfing the breaks on the coral reef.

Having fed his family by dusk, Aina retires to an inland gathering where revellers gyrate tribally to the repetitive throb of the kabosy guitar. Strung with old fishing line, the instrument’s one-chord resonates with the oscillating ocean waves.

The moon illuminates the white face of a lone vazaha sitting cross-legged outside the dance. Catching sight of me, Aina stomps rhythmically over holding out a glass of spiced vanilla rum. Returning the favour, I offer him a swig of strong French pastis and in broken French we discuss the day’s catch and the sanctity of the ocean.

Tags: anakao, lemur, madagascar, pirogue, travel writing scholarship 2012

 

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