Every seven years, the year of the Friday, the Antambahoaka who make up one of the eighteen ethnic groups on the island of Madagascar have been celebrating for centuries the biggest event that defines them: the Sambatra. This major moment in their lives is not just the ritual of the collective circumcision of the boys born in the seven years preceding it. It is also an initiation and integration rite practiced by the Antambahoaka boy that will permit him to make the passage from an asexual state to the statute of male. From this moment on, he will be integrated into the paternal clan and initiated into the life of the true Antambahoaka man. He, himself, will thus become a Zafiraminia, a son of Raminia, the founding ancestor of this ethnic group. But for this to happen, he has to symbolically relive the history of his ancestors, which was the exodus that brought them to Madagascar. During one month, the Sambatra lets the Antambahoaka remember their origins and so honour Raminia.
Photos and text ©Jacques Bock/LightMediation
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