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Friday, 14th February 2020

Two short tales from Madagascar

By Daniel Wood, Lomba Hasoavana and Yvon Leonidas

Blessed with incredible wildlife and scenery, Madagascar is also home to millions of people and a rich culture. There's always more to see and hidden gems everywhere! As an avid reader, one of my favourite things about visiting other countries is discovering the stories and folk tales. I'd like to share a couple of short stories told to me by SEED national staff Lomba and Yvon.

Why the dog chases the taxi-brousse

Taxi brousse loading up in MadagascarOnce upon a time, there were four friends: the zebu, the goat, the sheep and the dog. One fine day the four friends decided to go on holiday, and took a taxi-brousse (trucks or buses used for rural transport in Madagascar).

When they got there the zebu got out first, paid the driver, and waited for his friends. The sheep got out next, paid the driver, and waited with the zebu. Then the goat got out, and ran away without paying! Finally, the dog got out, and the driver said "Hmm, one of your friends didn't pay! You will have to pay for him too!". The angry dog paid and went to find his friends.

This is why every time the taxi-brousse goes past, the goat runs away, the dog chases after it asking for his money back, and the zebu and sheep only watch.

How the cattle egret got it's name

A long time ago, the noble white egret was head teacher of the school in a small village in Madagascar. With his dignified walk and clean white coat, he was the picture of respectability, admired by all.

One day, the egret was teaching Malagasy to a class of young students. Most of the class were trying hard to learn, but a cheeky young frog did not want to try. The naughty frog was imitating the teacher and misbehaving, disturbing the whole class. The teacher kept the frog after school, shouted at him and told him off for being so naughty.

When the frog got home to his parents, he was crying, and told them about how the egret had been so mean. The parents believed the frog, and were furious at the head teacher. They complained to the other parents, and the mayor, and soon the whole town was angry at the poor egret. The egret lost his job at the school, and was chased out of the village.

For weeks and weeks, the poor egret tried to find another job, but nobody would hire him. You were so mean to that frog they said! In the end, the only job the egret could find was as a zebu herder. And so he became the cattle egret, carefully looking after his herd, which is why they are always found with zebu.