Reharbouring Heritage – Festival of the Sea Music

Reharbouring Heritage

 

As part of the Festival of the Sea, local musicians wrote a variety of songs to express their relation to the sea. You can hear them below, and read a transcript of their lyrics on the Festival of the Sea’s web page.

 

Festival of the Sea Photos – Bronagh Corr McNicholl

Bronagh Corr McNicholl – Visiting Artist

Festival of the Sea – Madagascar

The following images were taken by Bronagh at the Festival of the Sea in Madagascar. You can read her reflective blog on the event here.

Festival of the Sea reflective blog – Bronagh Corr McNicholl

Bronagh Corr McNicholl – Visiting Artist

Festival of the Sea – Madagascar

 

I have been living in Derry City for the past 20 years working as an artist, artist facilitator, Arts Care artist in residence in Western Trust, patient/environment arts consultant and cultural programmer. I am currently working as a PHD researcher at Ulster University looking at harnessing photographic dialogue as a participative tool for critical reflection and change towards inclusive masculinity in Derry/Londonderry

Whilst as an artist, I work predominantly in photography but I also create and facilitate on a multidisciplinary level using traditional and new media including oils, acrylics, digital Imaging,  film, audio, literature, printmaking, textiles or creating with sculptural and found elements. My photography documents the small narratives and moments in both people and nature, observing small detail in a fast-paced changing world. Film, nature, travel and sense of place and time influence my photographic works.

I was invited by Jonathan Skinner, (whom I had worked in the past in my role as Arts Care artist at Let The Dance Begin, a community engaged Arts Care festival,  Strabane, NI) to work with SEED, festival organisers and other visiting artists engaging in a cultural exchange  at the ‘Festival of the Sea’ Sainte Luce, Madagascar in 2019.

The project resonated with me as I am originally from Tyrone, and the shores of Lough Neagh and whilst my family are not from a fishing community, I am aware of how mass industry has changed the traditional methods of fishing which had been so much part of the vibrant lived cultural life of rural fishing areas for generations.

As an artist who has primarily worked across healthcare areas, I was conscious of creating a project that would both relate significantly to, be sensitive of, and add to, the cultural value of the community: advance meetings, ethics training and safe practices with the team further developed this understanding. My brief involved designing and delivering a participatory arts project involving 20 women and also with over 300 school children from across three coastal fishing villages.

Initial research and an introduction to Sarah Brown, (a textile artist and founder of the women’s STITCH embroidery project) who was familiar with the community and the accessibility of materials, enabled me  to identify what was and what was not possible.  I was then able to develop the idea of making Lambahonys / lambas. Lambas, are a traditional garment associated with festivals, ceremonies and also as daily practical use, often as a means of carrying children on mothers’ backs. Teaching the women, ‘Shibori’ a traditional Japanese resist dying technique involved different ways of tying the cotton, resulting in a variety of textile pattern designs for the lambas, the indigo colour reflecting the sea theme.

With the children, I decided to create windsocks  that they could use in the procession, using materials such as paper, paint, tissue paper, string, again sensitive to the environment, identifying what we could buy in Madagascar and those I needed to bring with me.

Arriving in Fort Dauphin and meeting the team helped get an idea of what I was to expect, but to be honest no descriptions or photos could have fully illustrated the beauty, warmth, and rich culture of the people and the communities or the landscape I felt privileged to be invited to work in.

On the first morning I woke at dawn and watched the fishermen push their boats out to the dark choppy waters of the Indian Ocean, I later found out that  most fishermen couldn’t swim and only a few had life jackets among them.  As my own Lough Neagh community has a strong tradition of fishing, I relayed back to it the fact about the fishermen not being able to swim, I was surprised to learn that  most traditional Lough Neagh fishermen, also rarely are able to swim.

The Malagasy Fishermen were keen to be photographed beside their boats, which I felt linked them to their heritage, labour, lifestyle, tradition and sense of place.  They really enjoyed seeing their own images on the  camera LCD.  This experience has directly led to a project I am currently working on, I recently received some funding from Derry City Council towards creating photos celebrating the relationship between fishermen and sense of place, around Lough Neagh, Lough Swilly and the River Foyle.

Over the next couple of days at the Festival, I worked with the women and then the children with help from the team to create twenty beautiful Lambas and over two hundred windsocks, in addition I facilitated other women’s and children’s painting workshops against the background of music, dancing workshops and festival atmosphere. The children would proudly come up and show me their beautiful paintings. I was surprised at the skilful anatomical correctness of so many of the depictions of marine life within the paintings.

The day of the procession, I felt very humbled to see the self-titled ‘Lamba Ladies’ proudly wear their creations as they joined the procession dancing their way to the beach and festival grounds. As the time went on amid the lively atmosphere, I would catch glimpses of the distinctive ‘Lamba Ladies’ in their indigo hues, as they went around their normal business, sometimes with a baby wrapped snugly on their backs. I was delighted to see that the garments were practical as well as beautiful. Whether through misunderstanding or experimentation, the children had decided to wear their windsocks as head pieces which added to the spontaneity, creativity and joy of the procession.

The richness of the experience has stayed with me and has had a major part in my own return to academia and as I want to explore further how I can use photography as a participative tool for critical thinking and making the unseen visible towards cultural understanding.

Festival of the Sea Logo

Festival of the Sea Procession

Alongside the Festival of the Sea, the project organised a procession to promote water safety for fishermen. View the video of the procession below:

Sea Turtle Story Book Launch, children reading the book

Book Launch Events- Using fishers’ traditional maritime knowledge to improve small-scale fisheries management in northern Madagascar

Using fishers’ traditional maritime knowledge to improve small-scale fisheries management in northern Madagascar have produced two children’s books looking at the importance of sea turtles in Madagascar.

They launched the books by giving out 200 copies to local schools in Madagascar.

You can download the books here.

Sea Turtle Story Book Launch, children holding copies of the books

Sea Turtle Story Book Launch

Sea Turtle Story- Using fishers’ traditional maritime knowledge to improve small-scale fisheries management in northern Madagascar

Using fishers’ traditional maritime knowledge to improve small-scale fisheries management in northern Madagascar have produced two children’s books looking at the importance of sea turtles in Madagascar.

You can download the English book, “Monie, the Green Sea Turtle” here.

And you can download the Malagasy book, “Lala ilay Lambohara” here.

Festival of the Sea Logo

The Festival of the Sea – Sainte Luce, Madagascar

See the outputs from The Festival of the Sea – Sainte Luce, Madagascar here!

Jonathan Skinner

(University of Roehampton)

Images of the Sainte Luce conservation area

Images of the Sainte Luce conservation area

The ‘Festival of the Sea’, Sainte Luce, Madagascar, is an example of cultural translation, of conservation and cultural politics practice relocated from the Caribbean to East Africa. A festival, whether international, national or local, is the ideal capacity builder in the community – a concept that can be applied just as effectively in the countryside as it is in the city (cf. Frost 2016). It is where both tangible and intangible cultural heritage can be realised, developed, and celebrated and agency and ownership of cultural practices established (Ohri 2016). This blog examines an innovation project using the model of the festival event as an opportunity to build capacity, as well as develop critical policy and UN SDGs, and highlight urgent sustainability issues in a region targeted for social development. Specifically, with AHRC/Global Challenges Research Fund funding (2018-2020) we established a Festival of the Sea to “reharbour heritage” and highlight sustainable development goals in one of Madagascar’s poorest conservation zones. The Festival took place in lobster fishing community Sainte Luce, June 2019, and used the participatory arts to research, test, challenge and apply marine cultural heritage as an intangible resource and vehicle for developing sustainable livelihoods with vulnerable Antanosy coastal people in the south east Anosy region of Madagascar.

This was a collaboration between the University of Roehampton and local NGO SEED Madagascar, and a team endeavour involving local community workers, a governance group, and dedicated festival co-ordinator at SEED Madagascar developing planning from the end of 2018 to June 2019. The inspiration for this project came from work in the Caribbean (Skinner 2001, 2015) on the islands of Montserrat and Anguilla where carnival festivals are themed and celebrate the community and tackle important local themes such as sustainability and conservation practice such as sea turtle conservation around Anguilla. ‘Festivals of the sea’ are used on the island of Anguilla to engage promote sea turtle conservation and to assist local fishermen in their work with tourists. This innovation project has been to translate and travel this festival model from the Caribbean to Madagascar, specifically to the Sainte Luce conservation reserve in southern Madagascar where SEED Madagascar have a history of long term community and conservation development work. Theoretically, this is an illustration of transculturation: of cultural practices in one destination being applied in another, of ‘culture on tour’ to invoke anthropologist of tourism Ed Bruner (2004). Though the concept travelled, the nature of the specific Sainte Luce festival was co-produced. Social anthropologist Nicola Frost (2016: 573) makes the point that without such local involvement the festival becomes devoid of social meaning.

Though a rich biodiverse environment with key marine, mining and rainforest resources, the approximately 300,000 Antanosy people in this Anosy region live in extreme poverty: literacy is under 20%; income from fishing is approximately $1.50/day; only 1 in 10 residents have access to sanitation; hunger is a regional problem; malaria is rife; 80% of coastal community households – such as those in Sainte Luce – rely on fishing for their primary income, managing a dwindling lobster stock. This region – for all its beauty – has become the epicentre of escalating tensions between traditional and modern fishing practices. Sainte Luce has strong community governance, a fishermen’s community group and local agreed regulations of animal husbandry (dina) – principally lobster fishing in restricted ancestral places, only during open season and not with the use of harpoons or snorkels. One of the consequences of the festival here has been to showcase this village practice to neighbouring communities so that they buy into it.

This project draws attention to the ‘habits of heritage’, to heritage as intangible as well as tangible, to the idea of heritage as a human capacity – as a resourcefulness and means of resilience during difficult times. It is heritage embodied as skills, with the people having living ‘social capital’ (Arcodia and Whitford 2006) that they can harness to weather hardships from food supply to education to earning an income based upon their fishing skills, their ability to weave and braid, to sing and dance, “to make” stitch and song of adversity – quite literally. The suggestion is that carnival and festival is the unique mechanism by which to draw attention to these community strengths, to the marine cultural heritage of these Anosy people. Through focussing on the reharbouring of heritage we were able to share and disseminate best ‘traditional’ lobster fisheries management practices.

These are the three core objectives for the project.

  • establish an international partnership of artists between the UK and Madagascar working creatively together on a living MCH with Antanosy coastal fishing communities to fulfil UN social development goals
  • creatively engaged in the community on the subject of community resilience, and MCH as a resource for sustainable livelihood
  • research, test and disseminate best practice of innovative practice-based arts research methods

We spent 4 months preparing the teams, risk and ethics. Dr Skinner visited in April for a week to negotiate access into the community with local chiefs, hold auditions for the bands (Skinner 2019), a link with SEED and a team of Community Liaison Officers. We returned in June 2019 to work as a team of festival organisers and artists: Bronagh Corr-McNicholl (Arts Care artist), Paul Antick (photographer and film maker), Jonathan Skinner (project and Roehampton coordinator and dance instructor) and Tom Gammage (SEED Madagascar festival coordinator).

Textile artist Bronagh Corr-McNicholl working with women and children of Sainte Luce

Textile artist Bronagh Corr-McNicholl working with women and children of Sainte Luce

We held a free two-day festival in Sainte Luce lobster fishing community and put on events that had been co-decided with the community. We filmed the lobster fishermen at work and played footage at night alongside band performances on the stage. We held dance classes and art classes with the school children. We held tie-dying workshops with the local women’s group. We filmed and documented the festival bands as they performed, and we swapped dance moves with the local dancers. We held speed weaving competitions with mahampny reeds that are used to make hats, baskets, mats as well as lobster pots. During the two days, community events used the stage for community education in environmental awareness, best fishing practice, and a puppet show on boat safety that then went onto domestic violence, HIV and sexual health issues. At night 53 local and regional dancers and musicians performed traditional songs and dances and specially commissioned material encouraging conservation and sustainable practice in the marine environment. They played for hours to an audience of over 2000 spectators.

Dance instructor Jonathan Skinner leading a children’s dance class

Dance instructor Jonathan Skinner leading a children’s dance class

The highlight of the festival was a parade through the villages to the sea on the second day. The bands, women’s groups and children danced their way down to the sea and the Festival of the Sea stage. The Festival area we built by the sea held weaving competitions, bands, public fishermen community meetings, tales and stories from elderly fishermen. This oral tradition is strong in Madagascar (Bloch 1989, Astuti 1995) and illustrates how the festival was internal, inward-looking for the community and not for exogenous visitors. It was not a commoditisation of culture and, though taking place on a stage, did not constitute what MacCannell (1989) considers to be a variant of ‘staged authenticity’.

We were fortunate to have Bronagh liaise with the local Project STITCH embroidery group before visiting for the Festival. She was able to gauge needs and abilities and put on a series of tie-dye workshops with the women making lamba wraps to wear in keeping with local tradition; and wildlife paintings with the children and lots of paper windsocks for the procession down to the beach. Predictably the local wildlife predominated in the images – lobsters but also dolphins, fish and octopus. The children also had a best lobster painting competition.

Community education and murals at the Festival of the Sea

Community education and murals at the Festival of the Sea

Art Workshops and Live Music at the Festival of the Sea

Art Workshops and Live Music at the Festival of the Sea

Weaving Competition, Procession and Speeches at the Festival of the Sea

Weaving Competition, Procession and Speeches at the Festival of the Sea

In conclusion, the Festival of the Sea was an outstanding success. The local community became festival stakeholders (cf. Crespi-Vallbona and Greg Richards 2007), established ownership of the event and expressed a desire to develop the conservation zone adding new villages to the regional partnership on marine resource management. Small businesses benefited from the festival, and entrepreneurs sold their weaving and wares. Local awareness of the work of the agreed laws and customs – the dina – was consolidated and spread through all sectors of the community form the very young to the very old. The singers, dancers and musicians gained regional exposure performing on a stage to an audience of several thousand. For some of the local bands, this was their first large scale performance. Each group tried out their new Festival of the Sea material (a sample of these can be heard here with translations of the lyrics). Some of the bands subsequently recorded their songs in a recording studio in Sainte Luce to create a compilation CD from the Festival. This was the first time some of the groups had had their material recorded and is giving them key music industry experience, and the opportunity to market and promote their bands regionally – to tourists and local tourist industry organisations (hotels, restaurants, clubs). This exposure adds an important income stream to the musicians’ small scale entrepreneurship. The community have recently been ravaged by the affects and implications of COVID-19 with illness and family suffering but also a loss of lobster trade and restricted travel to regional markets. This festival currently plays a small part in the community resilience to this on-going adversity.

Festival of the Sea Logo

Festival of the Sea Logo

Credit to Daniel Wood for the Festival of the Sea film which we have used for stills. The film can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni06OL76SVs&t=16s.

University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar Reharbouring Heritage grant partners - Hannah Shepherd, April 2019

Festival of the Sea Team

References

Arcordia, C. and M. Whitford (2006) ‘Festival Attendance and the Development of Social Capital’, Journal of Convention & Event Tourism 8(2): 1-18.

Astuti, R. (1995) People of the Sea: Identity and Descent among the Vezo of Madagascar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bloch, M. (1989) Ritual, history, and power: Selected papers in anthropology. London: Athlone.

Bruner, E. (2004) Culture on Tour: Ethnographies of Travel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Crespi‐Vallbona, M. and G. Richards (2007) ‘The Meaning of Cultural Festivals’, International Journal of Cultural Policy 13(1): 103-122.

Frost, N. (2016) ‘Anthropology and Festivals: Festival Ecologies’, Ethnos 81(4): 569-583.

Ohri, L. (2016) ‘Political Yields from Cultural Fields: Agency and Ownership in a Heritage Festival in India’, Ethnos 81(4): 667-682.

Skinner, J. (2019) ‘“Scoping” Maritime Cultural Heritage: A visit to SEED Madagascar and Sainte Luce to prepare for June’s Festival of the Sea’, AHRC Rising from the Depths Webpages, 25 July 2019, https://risingfromthedepths.com/blog/innovation-projects/scoping-maritime-cultural-heritage-a-visit-to-seed-madagascar-and-sainte-luce-to-prepare-for-junes-festival-of-the-sea/.

Skinner, J. (2015) ‘The Ambivalent Consumption of St. Patrick’s Day amongst the Black Irish of Montserrat’ in J. Skinner and D. Bryan (eds) Consuming St. Patrick’s Day. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.186-208.

Skinner, J. (2001) ‘Licence revoked: when calypso goes too far’ in, B. Watson and J. Hendry (eds) An Anthropology of Indirect Communication. London: Routledge, pp.181-200.

Study and implementation of network system by fishers’ community actor for the marine cultural heritage survival: Communication of research results to the scientific event: ” Université d’été Mahajanga 2ème édition”

Heritiana Andrinjarisoa – Study and Implementation of Network System by Fishers’ Community Actors for the Marine Cultural Heritage Survival

Communication of research results to the scientific event: ” Université d’été Mahajanga 2ème édition”

Organized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESUPRES) and the University of Mahajanga of Madagascar, having one of the objectives of publicizing the results of research carried out by researchers from universities, national centers and / or in collaboration with international researchers, the scientific event called: “Université d’été Mahajanga 2ème édition ” was held at the Ambondrona Mahajanga University Campus from November 17 to 21, 2020, in particular in the School of Tourism. This second edition is under the theme: ” Développement inclusif, durable et gestion des risques naturels”.

To follow up on the invitation of the President of the University of Majunga for the purpose of attending this conference and participating in the oral communication, with 10 minutes of presentation followed by 5 minutes questions / answers, we have the opportunity to present the results of our research concerning the study on the implication of the indigenous people in the protection of the marine environment of the villages of Soariake in the South-West Region of Madagascar, from where the main objective is to observe and describe the mobilization of the fishing people in the co-management and protection of natural resource reserves.

Indeed, the establishment of an organizational strategy relating to the protection of the marine environment could be justified by ecological, economic and socio-cultural issues. Thus, the social and cultural contexts of the vezo’s organizational structure constitute a favorable framework for the mobilization of fishers’ communities on the protection of the marine protected area Soariake. In its system, several actors present various logics of actions allowing the reasons for the success and / or failure of protection activities. These deserve to be described in order to be able to identify directions for recovery in relation to the relationship problems observed within this protected area. Nevertheless, the participation of the fishing community promotes the conservation of natural resources. Their involvement in the system presents various logics of success in making decisions suitable for a given situation, hence the “dina” is a social convention suitable for the governance of the marine protected area. This entire article will be published in ‘Revue des Sciences, de Technologies et de l’Environnement (RSTE) volume 2’ of the University of Mahajanga. The power point presentation in French version in pdf is available here.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome, send us an email to andrinjarisoa@gmail.com

Stolen Objects from local site

Attempt of depredation of the wreckages failed in Salary north

Study and Implementation of Network Systems by Fishers Community Actors for Survival of Marine Cultural Heritage

The blog below by RABEKOTO Andrinjarisoa Heritiana and Jeannette Faranirina (Marovany Association) explores the issue of thefts from heritage sites.

Stolen Objects from local site

Stolen objects from site

A team of twenty men with professional divers from MARIO MATTEO DIEGO DIVE (Père &fils) would like to steal the wrecks of one of these 3 ships in the maritime territory of Salary North but had failed. This team was accommodated by the head of the landing at Salary North I by installing their tents in the courtyard of the landing and started to take some samples.

In this regard, we contacted and moved the representatives of the Regional Direction of Communication and Culture from South-West as well as the regional platform of civil society organizations from South-West of Madagascar to observe the situation in place on January 06, 2020. They were Mr. RANDRIANAMBININA Bertrand, Head of Heritage Division within this Regional Department, then Mr. RANDRIAMALALA Bonhomme Elysé, Journalist and cameraman of RNM / TVM within this Department who also provided media coverage of this mission and also Mr. VICTOR, member of the board of the platform of civil society organizations in the thematic environment of land and sea, called FAMARI.

The mayor of the commune was not aware of this situation, the chief of Fokontany said that this group did not appear to him before settling in the village of northern Salary. One of the leaders of this group told us that they have carried out a feasibility study for their fish farm project which is going to be financed by the Malagasy state and he showed us a request which contain an authorization that allow them to dive. We have understood that this authorization is illegal because it is a request for a diving authorization on behalf of the applicants which is addressed to the Regional Chief of Fisheries and Aquaculture. While this request bears the logo of the Malagasy state and that of the ministry responsible for fisheries which is signed by the regional head of the fisheries and aquaculture department.

We explained to this group the commitment of the Malagasy State on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage following the ratification of the 2001 UNESCO Convention and told them that, following their authorization letter, they had no right to take objects from wrecked ships. Then, we also explained that the Ministry in charge of Culture is the competent authority to give a research authorization on terrestrial and underwater cultural heritage. In this regard, we have said that they committed an act of looting.

So, in relation to this situation, we made the decision to tell them to stop their search, then bring the wrecks back to the site and this activity was accompanied by the members of the Soariake association, and finally to follow the procedure legal before continuing their study by passing to the Ministry in charge of Culture too. All these decisions were written down in minutes and signed by the representatives of each entity present. The file (photos, video of interview, minutes, and mission report) is currently under the responsibility of the Regional Direction of Communication and Culture of South-West Madagascar.

This month of February, our activity continues and focuses on the establishment of a focal point and training of village leaders. The latter concern two mixed leaders (man and woman) per village who represent the fishermen and who are appointed by themselves by taking minutes of a legalization meeting of their choice. They will benefit from capacity building on the basic communication technique and knowledge of the 2001 UNESCO convention as well as the benefits for the protection of underwater cultural heritage.

More on this in the next blog! Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome, in sending to me by email:  andrinjarisoa@gmail.com

Project team stood by car

Data collection in the villages by fishers’ community in the farming township of Tsifota, Southwest of Madagascar

Study and Implementation of Network Systems by Fishers Community Actors for Survival of Marine Cultural Heritage

The blog below by RABEKOTO Andrinjarisoa Heritiana and Jeannette Faranirina (Marovany Association) outlines the communities that their project will engage with.

Project team stood by car

Started in the end of December 2019 until the beginning of January 2020, we carried out this field work to collect data in the villages of the vezo communities within the rural commune of Tsifota, District Toliara II, located in the coastal area of ​​the Southwest region of Madagascar. It includes six fokontany from north to south such as Tsifota, Tsiandamba, Salary nord I, Salary nord II, Bekodoy and Andravony. This research was carried out to have the observation and description of the mobilization of the fishing people to co-manage and protect the marine environment in order to draw lessons for the establishment of a system of protection and development of value underwater cultural heritage, namely the wrecks of Winterton (1792), Nossa Senhora do Carmo (1774) and the Surprise

The indigenous population, represented by the Soariake association, has integrated into the process of our research in order to achieve the objective. This local civil society organization is co-manager with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as promoter, between 2008 and 2010 and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) since 2011, of the marine protected marine area Soariake of category VI of the classification of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Through the establishment of seven community marine reserves managed by the social convention called DINA, WCS intervened to support local communities in the sustainable management of these natural resources which are part of one of the great reef systems of the world and located in 80 km north of the city of Toliara. The overall management objective is to ensure the long-term protection and maintenance of biodiversity, cultural heritage and ecological services and to promote the sustainable use of natural resources to contribute on poverty reduction.

The data collections were carried out with the various members of the ethnic groups of the fishing people, tourism actors, basic community organizations as well as stakeholders in relation to the conservation of natural resources such as fishermen’s associations and women in the village. , the private company Ocean Farmer, which supported local communities to ease the pressure on natural resources through the development of seaweed farming in fishing communities.

More on this in the next blog! Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome, in sending to me by email:  andrinjarisoa@gmail.com

Measuring, weighing and selling the day’s lobster catch - J. Skinner, April 2019

Reharbouring heritage with Madagascar’s ‘Festival of the Sea’

Reharbouring Heritage

RAI RESEARCH SEMINAR

SEMINAR SERIES AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

Reharbouring heritage with Madagascar’s ‘Festival of the Sea’:
a celebration highlighting sustainable development goals, promoting marine cultural heritage, and developing practice–based research

Dr Jonathan Skinner (University of Roehampton) and partners

Wednesday 25 March 5:30 – 7:30 pm

A festival, whether international, national or local, is the ideal capacity builder in the community. This evening presents findings from a practice-based research project run by the University of Roehampton and NGO SEED Madagascar. With AHRC/Global Challenges Research Fund funding (2018-2020) through the AHRC funded Rising from the Depths Network, we established a Festival of the Sea to “reharbour heritage” and highlight sustainable development goals in one of Madagascar’s poorest conservation zones. The Festival took place in lobster fishing community Sainte Luce, June 2019, and used the participatory arts to research, test, challenge and apply marine cultural heritage as an intangible resource and vehicle for developing sustainable livelihoods with vulnerable Antanosy coastal people in the south east Anosy region of Madagascar.
This evening features the findings of this partnership that resulted in a two-day festival of skills sharing and knowledge exchange. There will be a talk, and exhibition of film, photography, music and dance from the festival.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to: https://jonathanskinner.eventbrite.co.uk

Tsimihantaravye Tandroy dance audition (https://youtu.be/6RBmhlbIzVA) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Tsimihantaravye Tandroy dance audition (https://youtu.be/6RBmhlbIzVA) – J. Skinner, April 2019

 

Lobster trap on a beach in Madagascar

‘Scoping’ Maritime Cultural Heritage: A visit to SEED Madagascar and Sainte Luce to prepare for June’s Festival of the Sea

Jonathan Skinner

(Featured image – Sainte Luce fishermen in handmade pigoues (canoes) rowing out to check their lobster pots – J. Skinner, April 2019)

There were no bins where I was staying. This was one of the things I noticed first and stayed with me during my first visit to Sainte Luce reserve, Madagascar. Jerry’s Huts sits right by the sea with very limited running water and electricity. It has a continual breeze in from the sea that keeps the air fresh and the mosquitos away. The Indian Ocean crashes in day and night. I was opening my food packs from the UK but there was nowhere to put the plastic wrappers. In fact there were scant plastics around at all. I was in what SEED Madagascar staff colloquially call ‘the bush’.

Yet, Sainte Luce is more coastal than bush environment. It is in the Anosy part of southeast Madagascar, 50km northeast of regional centre Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin), a coastal region where French settlers first landed, and one of the last few places of intact coastal forest. The Sainte Luce Reserve is a hamlet of three villages (Ambandrika, Ampanastromboky, and Manafiafy – the last is by the sea and is also the name of a nearby exclusive luxury beach and rainforest lodge for ‘primitive’ tourists, that is tourists of the primitive, I suppose). The approximately 2400 inhabitants of Sainte Luce depend on natural maritime resources, local forestry, subsistence agriculture and mahampy reed weaving products (mats, hats, baskets) for their livelihood. It is also the epicentre of the lobster export industry in Madagascar: according to NGO Azafady (2014: 4), 50% of Madagascar’s annual national spiny lobster catch comes from along a 150km stretch of coastline focused around the Sainte Luce hamlet (approximately 18 tons/yr). 80% of Sainte Luce’s population depend upon this fishing (Sabatini et al. 2007) making it the core means of income generation for the community.

In Madagascar, there are many taboos (‘fady’ such as not pointing, avoiding certain animals, or talking about food). Likewise, ‘fomba’ is the term given to local cultural traditions that show respect to other, including the ancestors. One central decision-making tradition is the practice of ‘kabary’, group discussion-making. SEED Madagascar – a UK registered NGO with offices in Taolagnaro – had recently facilitated in Sainte Luce the re-establishment of a local Riaky (sea) committee to represent the community in the management of coastal maritime resources, assist with the implementation of local ‘dina’ (rules), and to help them to develop a new voluntary no-take zone (VNTZ) with closed and open seasons (currently open April to May and August to September inclusive). They did this through close, intense kabary discussion with the community, effectively co-producing a successful ‘community-managed small-scale lobster fishery’ (Long 2017a).

University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar Reharbouring Heritage grant partners - Hannah Shepherd, April 2019

University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar Reharbouring Heritage grant partners – Hannah Shepherd, April 2019

I was the only person staying there at Jerry’s in Sainte Luce, visiting the SEED Madagascar’s base camp nearby where they conduct their public health, social development, and conservation projects that range from supplying village wells for safe, clean water to drink to reduce levels of severe and life-threatening diarrhoea; to recording the daily lobster catch, sales and effort endured by the fishermen to ultimately facilitate community-based, sustainable lobster fisheries management; to night patrolling ‘bush’ transects counting lemur eyes shining back at them in the dark to assess annual animal levels and to facilitate their safe movement; and promoting and supporting a local women’s embroidery group, Project Stitch, with social enterprise, business advice and marketing platforms.

Project Stitch, Sainte Luce – J. Skinner, April 2019

Project Stitch, Sainte Luce – J. Skinner, April 2019

I was to spend three nights in the bush, spending the days learning about the Voluntary No Take Zone (VNTZ) where local fishermen have agreed to operate a community lobster fishing regulation system of open and closed seasons – in addition to national regulations to leave female lobsters with eggs and lobsters less than 20cm in size, and to not use nets, spears, harpoons or snorkels while fishing. I was to liaise with the Chef Fokontany (Head of the Village) of local villages in preparation for a return visit in June when I was to bring a textile artist and a filmmaker from the UK, and co-organise with SEED a range of local and regional bands and dancers to hold a Festival of the Sea to celebrate local marine cultural heritage: the traditional practices that best-suited conservation and sustainability, maritime cultural heritage as resilience in the people, and to swap skills and co-produce knowledge, artefacts and choreography. This was also an opportunity to test a community-engagement-through-festival approach developed in the Caribbean (Skinner and Bryan 2015), and the conservation-through-carnival suggestion that we had developed on Anguilla when examining a contentious sea turtle moratorium established until 2020 (EU BEST 2016).

EU BEST sea turtle conservation grant

EU BEST sea turtle conservation grant

There, on this current British colony, the University of Roehampton partnered with the Government of Anguilla’s Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and the Anguilla National Trust. From 2016 to 2019 we have been working to mitigate the overexploitation of the sea turtle – ‘combining community action with scientific evidence to drive legislative change’ (EU BEST 2016). The project brings stakeholders together to engage in open dialogue about the island’s limited natural resources and their best management. We combined scientific evidence of sea turtle foraging and breeding with information about the cultural heritage of local people to engage and increase national awareness and support for the sea reptile. One initiative was to join in the annual ‘Festival Del Mar’ (Festival of the Sea) with sea turtle floats to raise public awareness as to their plight (EU BEST 2016). To translate concepts: Anguilla used Malagasy techniques of kabary group discussion to transform and develop support structures for the animal, its husbandry, and its fishermen; the Sainte Luce Festival of the Sea was to use Caribbean carnival to celebrate best lobster conservation and fishing management practice in the community in one of the first VNTZ’s of its kind in the Indian Ocean. We wanted to test the plasticity of the Caribbean model as an appropriate mode of maritime cultural heritage expression in Madagascar.

Musician awaits auditions at the entrance to Sainte Luce Reserve – J. Skinner, April 2019Musician awaits auditions at the entrance to Sainte Luce Reserve – J. Skinner, April 2019

In the mornings – very early in the mornings – the lobster fishermen return with their catch caught in vahipiky vine pots skilfully woven by the family or bought from mountain villages nearby. The lobsters are measured and weighed by SEED before being sold on to collecteurs (middle people) who send on the lobsters to Taolagnaro for international distribution. Many of the fishermen use boats owned by the opérateurs and so have to sell the lobsters at uncompetitive prices to collecteurs working with the opérateurs. Stephen Long (2017b) notes that the development of a No Take Zone concentrated the efforts of the fishermen when they could fish, and brought them ‘bumper catches’ from the replenished supply, but that an unexpected consequence of the surplus was to break the buyers’ monopoly, giving a 33% rise in price for the lobster that added significant value to the lives of the fishermen and their families.

Measuring, weighing and selling the day’s lobster catch - J. Skinner, April 2019

Measuring, weighing and selling the day’s lobster catch – J. Skinner, April 2019

There are exceptional musicians and dancers in the local community, and part of the visit was to audition them for the Festival of the Sea as well as troupes in Taolagnaro so that was to be a local as well as regional event.

Village life stopped when the drums and strings played and Group Dodomy entertained. Both the local music and dancing can be described as traditional with a Southern African influence of polyrhythms and contrabody movements: stillness in the torso, fast leg movements up and down or side to side, hands flicking stylishly upwards and downwards characterise some of this dancing.

Group Dodomy Festival of the Sea auditions (https://youtu.be/8DHkzPu9Sis) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Group Dodomy Festival of the Sea auditions (https://youtu.be/8DHkzPu9Sis) – J. Skinner, April 2019

The dance auditions showed the local skills in body isolations, and contra-body juxtapositions – opposing patterns, or contrasts between movement and non-movement. Forward-side-back sets of kicks; or side-to-sides with loose arms and hands towards the waist remind me of some salsa, rumba, cumbia complexes that have their origins in Africa and travelled at different times most notably to the Caribbean islands and eventually to the Americas. At the end of the Sainte Luce audition, we took turns dancing, swapping moves. Unfortunately – or fortunately (see the following June blog) – only I had a camera so there were no recordings!?

Tsimihantaravye Tandroy dance audition (https://youtu.be/6RBmhlbIzVA) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Tsimihantaravye Tandroy dance audition (https://youtu.be/6RBmhlbIzVA) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Back in Taolagnaro, we held meetings to consider the possibilities of the Festival: what would work; what the community wanted and needed; how the logistics of food, water, electricity might be resolved; what was best ethical practice between the University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar. We held further open auditions to urban hiphop singers, a reggae band, and traditional Tandroy and Tanosy music and dance groups. Here is a Tandroy clip: the ‘people from the thorns’, as the name translates for this ethnic group, are known for their short and pointy straw hats (satsok bory), and the dance has the similar fast-feet still-torso but there is also a characteristic hand-shaking. It reminded me of the Maori Haka in places and has similar rhythmic shouting – you can hear ‘Eka!’ in the YouTube clip which is ‘Yes!’ in Malagasy. Mirohondroho are a semi-professional troupe that perform regularly for locals, tourists, festivals. Here they are giving an audition that is loved by SEED staff, bar staff and a visiting anthropologist, all of whom are a dancing audience.

The next blog will showcase the Festival of the Sea that we held in Sainte Luce, 7-8 June 2019.

Stunning land and waterscapes and the obligatory lemur shot – J. Skinner and R. Rossizelà, April 2019Stunning land and waterscapes and the obligatory lemur shot – J. Skinner and R. Rossizelà, April 2019

Stunning land and waterscapes and the obligatory lemur shot – J. Skinner and R. Rossizelà, April 2019

 

References

Azafady (2014) A final report on Project Oratsimba – Prepared for SmartFish/FAO: Activities from June 2013 – March 2014. Tolagnaro. https://madagascar.co.uk/application/files/8515/4027/7111/11.03.2014_Phase_1_Final_Report.pdf.

EU BEST (2016) Saving the Sea Turtles of Anguilla: Combining community action with scientific evidence to drive legislative change. Project grant details website, ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/best/pdf/fs_saving_sea_turtles_en.pdf.

Long, S. (2017a) ‘Short-term impacts and value of a periodic no take zone (NTZ) in a community-managed small-scale lobster fishery, Madagascar’. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177858. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177858.

Long, S. (2017b) ‘The world is your lobster: sustainable fishing in Madagascar?’ UCL research blog post, https://london-nerc-dtp.org/2017/06/07/world-lobster-sustainable-fishing-madagascar accessed 16 July 2019.

Sabatini, G., Salley, S. Ramanamanjato, J.-B. (2007) ‘A review of the spiny lobster fishery in the Tolagnaro (Fort-Dauphin) Region’. In J. U. Ganzhorn, S. M. Goodman and M. Vincelette (eds.) Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation of Littoral Ecosystems in Southeastern Madagascar, Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin). Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., pp. 299–308.

Skinner, J. and D. Bryan (2015) ‘Introduction’. In J. Skinner and D. Bryan (eds.) Consuming St. Patrick’s Day. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.1-8.