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My Site Ampondralava

Ampondralava

Is located in the north of Madagascar, close to Ambilobe and Diego Suarez or Antsiranana. Each piece of Madagascar is unique in and of itself, but the North stands out because it is mainly inhabited by descendents of the Takarana. They originally hail from Comoros, have Muslim heritage, and speak a different dialect of Malagasy than the Southern regions and the highlands, called Antakarana, which takes its name from Takarana.

Ampondralava takes its name from am+fondra+lava= the long forest (sort of…like all languages there are some word forms of Malagasy that don’t translate exactly into English). It is equidistant from Ambilobe, a major urban center, and Port St. Louis, a small port built to accommodate the sugar cane factory that fuels the local economy. Built along a road, Ampondralava runs east to West and is compromised of 7 fokotanys or smaller villages. The Rural Commune of Ampondralava is governed by a Mayor, the smaller districts or villages within the commune (the foko) are governed by chiefs, who are all locally appointed/ elected. Here is a great map I drew of the area:

ALareamapIt is not a mistake that Ampondralava has a gold star next to it. That is because Ampondralava is the best damn rural commune in Madagascar. It is compromised of rice and sugar cane fields striped with old primary forest that was spared the clear cut in 1953 when the sugar factory was first being built.

The history of the sugar cane factory sums up the history of the immediate region as well as Madagascar, and maybe even the African continent as a whole. It would make a killer plotline for a really deep novel. In brief–founded around 1953 the Sucriere Ouest de la Mahavavy (or something like that- it has gone through too many name changes and I don’t have my notes in front of me) clear cut all the primary forest from the Mozambique Canal into the Mahavavy river. They also built canals to irrigate the fields and simultaneously carry away all good topsoil. They did leave stripes of forest around the towns and fokotanys to provide shade and food for the people who basically became sharecroppers for the factory. This system is very much still functioning today. However, the factory was nationalized sometime after independence, and as profits dwindled through mismanagement (and maybe just possibly a little bit of book cooking), the factory eventually shut down in the mid 2000’s. The Chinese then snapped it up at a bargain price and started churning out sugar and rum again. The vinegar factory is yet to reopen. And while the sugar factory undoubtedly contributes largely to the relative wealth of the surrounding area it is not without significant costs. More about this is in the small change corner!

So, to sum up, Ampondralava as a whole benefits from its location near the major urban center of Ambilobe and the major employer of the sugar factory in Sirama. It is home to generally happy and healthy people, beautiful sunrises and sunsets that photos just do not capture, and the best damn pitiky (dried bananas) in all of Madagascar.

Courtesy of my mother and Mapcarta, a great aerial view can be found here : http://mapcarta.com/14500752

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