Blog by MBP Volunteer, Nina
On one of our taxi brousse-rides back to KAFS from Mananjary (a coastal town about 2 hours from KAFS) early in March, Sara and I had some very unusual company for a good 45-minute stretch of the trip. The trip began as it usually does with the driver that we have befriended and always take because he used to work with one of MBP’s drivers. It’s a nice situation because he tends to drop us of at exactly the right place, is willing to wait for us before leaving Mananjary, and will help us find coconuts or fish for a non-tourist price in Mananjary before we head back to KAFS. About 30 minutes into the 2-hour trip, we reached one of the major towns on the 1-lane “highway”. One woman flagged down our brousse with her straw bag and we pulled aside. She said something too fast for me to understand to the driver, he nodded, and with a wave of her hand a crowd of 15 to 20 women appeared from nowhere and started hopping into the already half-full 13-seater van. Somehow we fit all of them inside. It did feel like a normal, crowded taxi-brousse ride – that is, until they started singing. One woman started, and immediately the others followed – harmonies, hand-clapping, everything. It was amazing. From the writing on their matching t-shirts, I think they were a church group returning home to their respective villages after a large church meeting in Antsenavolo, a major village in this region. I honestly wish I could’ve joined in if I only knew the words and understood what they were singing. They sang hymn after hymn for a good 45 minutes, even until all but a few of them had been dropped home. Honestly, I wish they had stayed with us the rest of the way. Taxi-brousses are famous for their loud music, usually the same songs ranging from Malagasy pop songs to Bob Marley to English love ballads. Although always pumping, the music has never been quite as great as the performance we received that day.