The Cultural Taboos of Madagascar


Some places are known for its panoramic beauty. While some places are popular for its rich culture. Fortunately, Madagascar has both. This country, located in Africa, has a reputable name for being one of the most visited travel destinations across the continent. Moreso, its cultural context has roots in time-woven folklore which is considered an ancestral boon. Among these cultural norms are taboos, “fady” (pronounced “fah-dee”) in Malagasy. You might be thinking that these should be nonexistent by now. The truth is, these are still highly respected by the locals. So, if you’re planning to book a visit to Madagascar, these must-know fadys might be handy to remember.
Wearing Red Swimsuit
Madagascar has multiple white sand beaches for you to choose from. But be careful to do some research or crowdsourcing first if that specific beach prohibits wearing a red swimsuit. Most beaches, particularly in Northeastern Madagascar, consider wearing a red swimsuit as a fady.
Packing Pork in Sacred Sites
Bringing a packed lunch can save you from spending way too much. However, if the next location from your itinerary is in one of the 12 sacred hills of Antananarivo or the lake near Canal des Pangalanes, you might want to prepare beef, chicken, or fish instead of pork.
Pointing Fingers in the Forests
When roaming around forests, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the different plant and animal species. Nonetheless, practice self-control from impulsively pointing towards certain places or spots. As mentioned, the Madagascar community values their ancestors and their ancestors might be buried somewhere proximate to where you’re pointing at.
Relieving Oneself the Same Place Twice
During demanding times, you often cannot wait to answer the “call of nature” at proper facilities, especially if you’re in the middle of a trek. Thus, it’s totally acceptable to find yourself an alternative place in the forest to “take care of business”. Nonetheless, be mindful not to do it in the same place twice as it is a fady in certain locations of Madagascar.
Disrespecting the Elders
We’ve all been taught to try to respect our elders as much as possible, but every country has a different approach or customs in interacting with them. With that being said, if you happen to bump into a Malagasy elder, practice showing your regard towards them as the locals do.
Snapping Photos without Permission
We’ve all been taught to try to respect our elders as much as possible, but every country has a different approach or customs in interacting with them. With that being said, if you happen to bump into a Malagasy elder, practice showing your regard towards them as the locals do.
Speaking French
It’s a known fact that the French conquest in Southeast Africa occurred in 1897. The lives of many Malagasy locals were taken during this time. Hence, some communities are still sensitive about this part of their history. Try to remember to refrain from speaking the French language.
Hunting Some Animals
It’s definitely a no-no to disrupt the ecological balance of the places you visit. If you’re hunting somewhere in Madagascar, try to avoid aiming for species such as Propithecus Lemur or Tolo Bird. The Propithecus lemur is legally protected by law from hunting. On the other hand, the tolo bird is sacred for allegedly saving lives of Malagasy locals during the French occupation by imitating the human voice and misdirecting the soldiers from finding them.
Cultural sensitivity should never be overlooked when it comes to being a responsible tourist. Therefore, it is essential to remember this list of fady by heart as an exchange for the experience and beauty Madagascar provides.