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Story of Michèle Rakotoson entitled "Lalana"

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Written by   82
2 months ago
Topics: Life Lesson

Lead Image from Unsplash--

After reading the short story, I was like in the feeling of being escorted around the place. I mean the events, the happenings, the experiences in the settings of the story especially in Antananarivo.

I believe, the only reason why she received such commendable comments from readers is on the way she organized her thought in this story. Throughout her career, Michèle does this a great deal, particularly with Lalana. Many Malagasy terms are incorporated into the game, but they are all explained as you progress through the levels.

Another reason she is such a fantastic writer is that she has the ability to teach about Malagasy vocabulary and culture through her writing without having it sound like some sort of boring history lesson, and without taking you out of the plot. It's all just braided in as you go along, which is nice.

I researched the author’s background and the location’s background present in the story, and yes, I found that Michèle Rakotoson was born in 1948 in Antananarivo.

Additionally, a portion of it can be attributed to the topic matter. Madagascar, like many other countries, notably the United States, experienced a severe AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. However, she was essentially the first artist in Madagascar to address the AIDS problem in a frank manner. This was a stunning revelation because it was something that everyone was aware of but that no one wanted to bring up in a public setting. Already, that is something that has taken people by surprise, that she would come out so plainly against such heinous matters.

Due to the fact that she was not currently residing in the country, she was able to complete this task. Also remarkable is the quality of her prose and the way she is able to communicate the story in a straightforward and compelling manner. She is an outstanding master at narrating a narrative in the Malagasy tradition. They have a very old oral storytelling heritage, and they have developed quite specific techniques of telling stories in this manner.

Obviously, oral stories are very different from written stories, but she manages to make a written story in French feel like an oral story that is being told in Madagascar in some way.

As a result, all of her Malagasy readers were completely captivated by it. For a Western reader who is unfamiliar with the sounds of a Malagasy oral story, [the book] has a very distinct cadence that is both addictive and enthralling to read. The other portion of the story is concerned with the conflict that exists between traditional Malagasy beliefs and contemporary culture, which is one of the novel's topics.

Almost all authors working in Madagascar today have attempted to address the question of "How can we reconcile our traditional values with the colonial society that was imposed on us, and then with the modern, global society that is imposed on us?" at some point in their careers. They have been compelled to evolve and progress at a breakneck pace, as have many other formerly colonized countries. There's a great deal of tension in the situation. Thus, the way in which the author is able to reconcile those two aspects of her own identity, as well as to assist her country in doing so, is quite remarkable.

The famine that the story described was actually true in the history of this location – Antananarivo. In the introduction on the story, it says “You cannot walk fast in Antananarivo. There’s a weight in the air, a heat that makes everything slow and viscous. There’s a constant smell of noxious gas, an acid odor that gets into your lungs infests your muscles. There’s the red dust, blackened by exhaust fumes, and the perpetual suffocation of the city, so precariously perched, so dry.”

According to Michel Garenne, this occurred in the mid-1980s, during the Antananarivo famine. It was a period in which economic policies in Africa were abruptly altered for the worse. apparently in reaction to decades of mismanagement and failed economic experiments. The economic research clearly shows the Antananarivo famine processes. With no effective governmental measures to buffer the effects of deregulation, quick deregulation of rice pricing and markets caused a rapid rise in the price of rice, the staple food of a huge majority of the people. Both the price and mortality increases lasted nearly two years, from July 1985 to June 1987.

During this time period, the city's poorest residents couldn't afford to eat, and many perished of hunger. Mortality returned to pre-crisis levels as soon as prices stabilized. This famine happened owing to a combination of market and institutional failures, and widespread poverty. The famine seems to have been caused by bad economic policies and widespread poverty.

Additionally, AIDS epidemic also spread in Antananarivo – it happened in the history as well. According to my research, A significant concentration of the country's high-risk population is responsible for the country's AIDS epidemic: 15 percent of men who have sex with men (MSM), 7 percent of injectable drug users, and a lesser extent, sex workers (1.3 percent in 2012) are HIV positive.

Young individuals, some of whom belong to more than one of these groups, are at the greatest risk of being victims of exploitation. Furthermore, there are studies on the seroprevalences of HIV and syphilis were carried out in six sites across Madagascar between mid-1995 and the beginning of 1996 with the purpose of estimating the number of people infected with HIV throughout the country.

The research was carried out at Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, Antsiranana, Toamasina, Toliary, and Mahajanga, among other places. The study included 3135 pregnant women seeking prenatal care, as well as 3047 clients of sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics and 2227 prostitutes who were not registered with STD services but were recruited in bars, hotels, and on the street.

According to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) conducted in Madagascar in 2008/09, more than half of the young men and women between the ages of 15 and 24 had their first sexual contact before reaching the age of 18. Only 8.8 percent of young males used a condom in the past year, despite the fact that nearly one in every five had more than one sexual partner in the previous year. The percentage of men and women who used condoms was considerably lower in the adult population: 7.4 percent for males and 7.6 percent for women.

Michèle, as far as I'm concerned, is an outstanding novelist. Their ancestral beliefs, as well as their present culture, are all intertwined with religious beliefs. Michèle was able to reconcile those two aspects of her personal identity through her writings, and in the process, she was able to assist her country in doing so as well.

Yes, I was astonished as well with her. I was really having trouble looking for what tension is there that is present in the story, and I don’t know exactly if my realization is correct – it is all related to AIDS which means, the particular culture emphasized in the story is Religion. Their religion belief.

I can tell that this is the particular culture emphasized here by this line – “They were shut away high up on the hill, shut away by ethnicity or region. They got used to the hill of ghosts, they survived there, adapting any way they could, especially the ways that were least morally tolerated.” Additionally, on the preceding paragraph Michèle told us that they valued their girls there and they wouldn’t let them catch anything, no matter what. This line here is actually referring to how sex is just becoming a part of play to everyone in this country. They engage sex like it’s part of life and it does not deal any consequence – which in turns Aids spread throughout the country. In Madagascar, religion is very important and they value their belief much – which has become their culture – and I am certain that sex is sacred.

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Written by   82
2 months ago
Topics: Life Lesson
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