September 27 – Vincent de Paul Day in Madagascar

Posted on September 27, 2016

Many countries have a “patron saint” that is supposed to especially look out for the people in that country. Today is the Feast Day of Vincent de Paul, patron saint of Madagascar. So I decided to check in with this African island nation!

 Of course, Madagascar is well known for having unique animals. But I already wrote about that here and hereToday I thought I would focus more on the people of Madagascar, who are called the Malagasy people.

  • Scientists tell us that people first settled the island from far away Borneo (which is now divvied up by the countries of Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia) – even though the mainland of Africa is a lot closer to Madagascar. Of course, the first settlers were only the first wave – people have settled on the island since then from Africa, Asia, and Europe. 

This map contrasts the distance from Borneo to Madagascar
(the red line) to the distance from mainland Africa to Madagascar
(the black line).

  • Like England and Hawaii, Madagascar has been ruled by queens at times. The last ruler of the Kingdom of Madagascar was Queen Ranavalona III.

  • During the late 1700s or early 1800s, Madagascar was a popular spot for pirates to hang out. As a matter of fact, a rumor exists that Madagascar was home to an independent pirate nation called Libertalia way back then!

  • Even though ecotourism is getting bigger – the better to enjoy all that biological diversity, my dear! – most of the Malagasy people are quite poor. About 90% of them live on less than $2 a day.

  • With all the Asian, African, and European influences in Madagascar, the food is pretty diverse. Rice is so important to the nation that the Malagasy word “to eat” literally translates to “to eat rice.” But the ways to eat rice are extremely varied, with everything from zebu (beef from a kind of African cattle) to peanuts, green veggies to bananas, coconut milk to rum, garlic and onions to ginger and curry, vanilla to cloves mixed into various recipes. Tomatoes, maize, cassava, turmeric... loads of different flavors in enticing dishes.

Also on this date:

Banned Books Week (9/25 to 10/1)

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