Fire and Independance

All lined up and ready to parade through the night.
July 5, 2011 Text and Photos by Chad Lebo

When Madagascar finally gained its independence from France on June 25, 1960, the news did not travel by Twitter; it traveled by fire. Long used on various parts of the island as a form of celebration, newly-independent souls held aloft burning torches of bound rice stalks or rejoiced around ground fires.

The celebratory fires have now shifted from flaming farm fodder to Asian paper lanterns and cut-rate Chinese LED wands that are lucky to last through their first thirty swishes. Akany Avoko celebrated the middle-fashioned way and stuck to paper lanterns, though a few wands sneaked in from somewhere). The lanterns were paraded around the dark streets of Ambohidratrimo and those that survived (the lanterns not the kids) returned to Akany where their carriers (the kids this time not the lanterns) were treated to a late night bowl of Chinese soup complete with a hard-boiled egg and some meatballs. 

Five of the most popular of the paper lanterns this year, fish.
The night would not be complete without lighting off some third-rate Chinese fireworks with no discernible directions (always an unpredictable thrill). Will it go up? Down? Across? Sputter and just fizz? Take down a nearby tree? Oh, the thrill of it all.

In the end, all were safe, happy and tired. And the fifty-first year of independence has begun.

[a link to another blog exploring this fiery tradition]

I assure you, the actual parade was not nearly as evil as it looks in this pic.
Seven various lantern designs and a newfangled battery-powered dragonfly gizmo. Kids these days!
Not quite as pretty without the darkness, but at least you can see the kids.
The villagers were out in lanterned force as well.
Independence Day without fireworks? I don't think so.
A great way to spend a dollar. Many ohhhhs and ahhhhs in return.
Not all the paper fish lived to tell the tale.
A night of fiery lanterns and fireworks was capped with a campfire at the Manager's house.

3 comments:

Ted said...

Great pictures--looks like it was a fun time.

Maritn jonson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin jonson said...

You idea about lanterns is awesome !! you are really a Genius.

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