I always love when Steve shares what's going on in Mahafaly Land - grateful for the chance today to get to hear him tell the story of his first full funeral here in Madagascar.
This past week, I had the opportunity to spend two days with the believers in Kilimary as the village held a funeral for an 80 year old man who passed away back in January. I have been able to attend parts of a funeral service before but never the entire event. I have to admit I was a little nervous about what may happen due to some stories that I had heard. I knew two were never alike, because they differ according to the village they are held in.
On Thursday they held the Fanenga ceremony - this is a time when all the guests from other villages arrive and bring a gift to the family of the deceased person. I arrived just after noon and was quite overwhelmed by the number of people that were present. I waited by my truck until I saw a familiar face...soon I saw the village leader heading my way. After our greetings, he asked me if I had brought a gift, which is a custom here. I told him that I had brought some money. He then asked me how much, which I thought was a bit odd. Did it really matter how much? Wouldn't they be grateful for any amount? But I realized he was serious, so I told him. He then asked me to follow him. We walked past a massive crowd of Malagasy people, there were at least 800 people. The looks on their faces reminded me of how uncommon it must be for a vazaha - foreigner - to be at a fanenga.