Madagascar - the largest island in the Indian Ocean and the fourth largest in the world - is a truly fascinating country that lies off the coast of Mozambique (East Africa.). It's vegetation and wild-life is different from both that of Africa and Asia and one can find their plants and animals that do not exist anywhere else in the world. Though a former French colony, Madagascar has retained a great deal of its culture including its language. Though all the native inhabitants of Madagascar speak Malagasy (a Malay-Polynesian language) the population is sub- divided into some 51 ethnic groupings having at least some customs and traditions distinct from those of their neighbors. Of particular interest to the BLAC FOUNDATION are the hira gasy (song & dance) performances of the Merina, the famadihana (exhumation ceremonies) of the Betsileo, the riddled speech of the Bara, the circumcision ceremonies of the Masikoro, the Mikea honey collectors, the fatidrá (blood-brotherhood) ritual of the Betsimisaraka, the "sacred children" of the Masianajy, the "group solidarity" of the Antaimanambondro, etc. For further information about these and other customs see Dr. E. Powe's The Lore of Madagascar.
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