Lalah is from the intriguing island nation of Madagascar. Her blog’s name, Dago Tiako, means “I love Madagascar.” Lalah’s posts convey her love for her country and its culture and her determination to show the world the real Madagascar. She writes mainly about Tana, the affectionate name of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, warts and all.

Malagasy footballers
Kids inspired by the World Cup, by Lalah

Not long ago, Lalah and I had this conversation via email:

What language(s) is/are spoken in Madagascar? Which one is the most widely used? And why did you choose to write in English?

Malagasy is our mother language. Because we are among French Speaking Countries, French is the second language which is most used in Madagascar. Now, the use of English language is starting to develop.

I decided to write in English because I love this language. I try to improve it every day. Also, I believe that since English is the main language used all over the world, I hope that my voice will be internationally heard.

I’ve been browsing your blog. So much to see and read! I like the fact that you don’t try to mask the unattractive side of life in Tana, you show the good, the bad and the ugly. What would you like to achieve through your blog?

As you said, I try to share the real face of Madagascar (Antananarivo) by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. I was quite sad with the famous animation movie “Madagascar” which is a reference for many people who do not know my country and which is thought a “fake” one.

I hope that with my blog, people will have other ideas – the real ones – about Madagascar. I would like to add that, through my blog, I combine my love of my country and my love of photography. And I have to admit that by blogging, I have become more and more interested in my culture as ever before.

A cute homemade toy
Photo: Homemade toys, by Lalah

What sort of response have you had so far?

There are people throughout the world who appreciate discovering Madagascar through my blog. And I have to admit that some Malagasy people, especially those who are now living abroad, like to learn Malagasy culture as well. One tradition which is unfortunately not famous for instance is the Malagasy New Year. I’d like to (re)discover and to share such event.

What’s a day in the life of a Malagasy like?

That’s a tough question. Well, it really depends on each and everyone. Maybe, I can say that the main Malagasy people are struggling for having enough food for the day, try to pay the bills (basic needs)…

You can read more about Madagascar on Lalah’s blog, Dago Tiako.

Thanks to Eddie Avila of Rising Voices for organising this interview. Lalah participates in the Rising Voices supported FOKO project, which trains locals to use citizen media to help focus the world’s attention on Malagasy people.

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About the author

Ana Astri-O’Reilly is from Argentina, where she lived until five years ago. She currently lives in Dallas, USA with her British husband, but they move a lot. Previously a translator and English and Spanish teacher, Ana first started writing to share her experiences and adventures with friends and family. She speaks Spanish, English and a smattering of Portuguese.