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Dancing with the ghost

June 7, 2013

Tromba are the spirits of deceased kings or major ancestors who from time to time will inhabit a living mediums body. In Madagascar Trombas are a big deal. And I got to dance with one.

It all started on a quiet afternoon walk through the fokotany of Bekolah to the West of my village. We passed a house with raucous music coming out of it, and my neighbor asked if I had seen a tromba yet. I said no, and she promptly took me to her friends house, where her friend accompanied us into the house with the tromba party going on. When I ducked into the dark living room the three musicians stopped playing, to abruptly start up again when some of the women around me grabbed my hands and started dancing with me. Then comes the tromba, a tall strong woman with markings on her throat and face done in a kind of chalk.

So there I was dancing with a ghost…and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, though it was a crazy first experience to have thrown at me from out of left field. The next time I’ll have to dust off my moonwalk to mix in with the Antakarana booty shake.

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