Malagasy Slaves in South-Africa Influenced the Local Culture.

Here is an interesting post from Patric Tariq Mellet @" Slavery and Creolisation, Heritage in Cape" on the impact of former slaves from Madagascar on the cultural diversity in Cape.
The purpose of Mellet's blog is to: "inquire about slavery and about [his] own connection to slaves in the Cape[ ...] So many within [the] colored community are searching for answers about their past. I hope that the stories on this weblog will assist."

Mellet describes himself as a man of mixed heritage:

"A mix of indigenous people, slaves of Indian and Madagascan origin, French, Dutch, Irish and English are all part of my make-up."

Here are a few excerpts, one is of special interest to me after the post on kabary and hip-hop.

(I apologize for not contributing to the post more than just highlighting passages from the article but I am a bit on the run lately.)

"Very few South Africans have tried to understand what the background of the Malagasy slaves was, or the influences that they brought to South Africa, even although slaves from Madagascar totaling up to a quarter of all slaves, were a much larger single immigrant group than Hugenots."

"Today Madagascar remains bound with the African mainland as an important role-player in the Southern African Development Community and the African Union."

"Bitter rivalries emerged, leading to many wars. The towns became centres of trade where cattle and slaves, taken in war, were exchanged with European merchants for guns and other manufactured goods."

"Vaky soava is a rhythmic style of singing accompanied only by hand clapping. The gourd-like jejolava, the drum and the multi-stringed valiha are the instruments contributed from African culture."

"Kabary’s roots are in early political assemblies, in which each speaker spoke in turn. It evolved and was eventually popularised and extended to the general public as a form of entertainment. Kabary is an integral part of hira gasy, popular spectacles that include music, dancing and story telling, that would be held regularly. Cape music and story-telling culture is obviously highly influenced by our partially Malagasy roots."

"For those presently having debates on how we handle the finding of remains and markers of our slave ancestors, the debate has unfortunately been stuck on a irreverent museology approach versus a western Christian overlay on traditional African custom which argues that the only sacred approach is to bury and cover up from the human gaze. The latter unfortunately perpetuates obliteration from human memory and does more to bolster traditionalist power forces than celebrate the lives of our ancestors. The traditions in our Malagasy roots perhaps offers us a way forward for how we remember our ancestors."

Thank you Patric for explaining the common bond between our two communities and I wish you the best on your journey to self-discovery.


  1. Lova, you are in a rush but still outdoing yourself. Thank you for the link. Don't know if a Malagasy historian has fully investigated the Cape connection ?

  2. Patric Tariq mellet4:53 PM

    You're welcome Lova. Go well.
    - Patric Tariq Mellet

  3. @sipakv,
    I don't know if anyone from Mada looked into that yet. I am sure you would have come across it of someone did. :)
    @ Patric,

    Thank you for visiting and for the sharing the stories.