Entry Fifty Years in Madagascar
Part of speech name (book or play title)
Subtitle Personal Experiences of Mission Life and Work.
Author Sibree James
Publishing House 1924. Pages: 359. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1924..
Excerpts 
page 34
A very widely extended belief was in that of the Tangena poison ordeal. The nut of a certain tree, one with beautiful foliage (Tanghinia venenifera), growing in the wood of the east coast region, was used for the purpose. This was scraped and mixed with the juice of a banana and administered to the person accused or suspected of crime, together with a long invocation and fearful maledictions...

I have conversed with native friends who were subjected to the Tangena; it was extremely bitter, and produced vomiting and much pain; and a large dose (about thirty grains) would kill by poisoning unless promptly rejected.

page 41
A few words must be said about the Sikidy, a species of divination which had formerly an immense hold upon the people everywhere, and is still, it is believed, practised by many in secret. This divination was worked by arranging a number of beans or seeds in certain columns or rows in a variety of combinations, all of which have a special meaning and were supposed to foretell good or ill fortune in any or everything which the inquirer whished to undertake. The Sikidy was a very elaborate system, and the diviner was a very influential personage.
page 79
At two or three ferries the only means of crossing a large river was by a bundle of bamboos tied together called a zahitra. And of all the primitive ramshackle contrivances ever invented for water carriage, commend me to a zahitra. The first one we saw consisted of about thirty to forty pieces of bamboo, from ten to twelve feet long, lashed together with bands of some tough creeper, which said bamboos were constantly slipping out of their places and needed trimming at every trip and the fastenings refixed... On another occasion I was returning from the north, from one of my annual fortnights of school examinations, and had to cross the River Mananara at a place where I had not passed through it previously. Here the men sent one of their number ahead to test the depth, and as he decided that it was practicable, although deep, because the current was slow and gentle just there, my men took off everything they wore and cautiously stepped into the water, holding me high up at arm's length. Deeper and deeper it proved, as they felt their way step by step, until it reached their necks; and now the taller men had the advantage, for the short ones had to jump now and then to take breath, for the water was above their mouths! The river was broad there, and I was glad when the depth gradually decreased and we reached the shore in safety.
page 125
We set off on our journey on Thursday, June 18th, travelling over high, moory country, very sparsely inhabited, and coming on the Friday afternoon to a large village of seventy houses called Anjozorobe, situated on rising ground overlooking the valley of the Mananara river.
page 143
The Malagasy are a sociable and friendly people, and here I mean particularly the Hovas, whom our work has chiefly affected; their family affections are strong, and they were accustomed for a long time past to constantly meet together in family and tribal gatherings, such as marriages and funerals, and at circumcision times, as well as in the great open-air weekly markets which are a notable feature of their social life.
page 305
1869
The year 1869 saw the addition to the mission circle of the Rev. James Richardson (1869-1897), who, besides being an ordained missionary, was also a trained teacher. He commenced the Betsileo mission at Fianarantsoa in 1870. Two years later, however, he returned to Antananarivo to take charge of the Normal and Boys' High School. Mr. Richardson became a very popular preacher in Malagasy; and he did a great work in teaching a large number of his pupils to understand and to teach the Sol-fa system of music and singing, so that eventually a knowledge of it was spread far and wide over Madagascar. He also did valuable service by editing and preparing the Malagasy-English Dictionary, of 832 pages; for this and his Malagasy for Beginners all students of the language are greatly indebted to him. In an adventurous journey of three months' exploration to the south-west coast in 1877, Mr. Richardson was attacked by robbers, and everything he had was stolen except what he had on, and one of his followers was killed; after escaping with difficulty, he made his way on foot for nearly 250 miles to Fianarantsoa. It should not be omitted to note here that he was one of the most prolific of our hymn writers, thirthy-three of those in the Malagasy hymn-book coming from his pen.
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Updated on 2020/07/31