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Sakalava woman, around 1910

The Sakalava are an ethnic group ( Foko ) based in Madagascar . The Sakalava now make up about 6% of the Malagasy population, but settle a quarter of the island's area on the west coast.


The name Sakalava probably means "those from the long valley". According to their own understanding, they are primarily cattle breeders. An ancestral cult is practiced in the form of ceremonial communication with the deceased in a trance ( tromba ) and the feast of the ablution of the relics ( fitampoha ). In the ritual of obsession to worship the royal ancestors, the focus is on the large tumbler drum, bekiviro .


Door from 1900

The Sakalava had two large kingdoms of their own until the 19th century, that of Menabe on the southern section of the west coast with the capital Morondava and that of Boina in the north with the capital Boeny (also known as Antsoheribory). Later the port city of Mahajanga , the central hub for the slave trade, became the capital and Boeny as the capital was given up. The royal seat was moved near Mahajanga to Marovoay ("where there are many crocodiles"). The Sakalava were at war with the Merina for a long time, but eventually submitted to the power of King Andrianampoinimerina .


  • Peter Kneitz: The "Church of Sakalava" and the four Andriamisara brothers. The staging of a dynastic cult and its social significance in Madagascar. WiKu, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 978-3936749458
  • Peter Kneitz: In the country "in between". The Sakalava kingdoms of Ambongo and Mailaka (western Madagascar, 17th – 19th centuries). In: Anthropos , Volume 103, No. 1, 2008, pp. 33-63
  • Gillian Feeley-Harnik: The King's Men in Madagascar. Slavery, Citizenship, and Sakalava Monarchy. In: Africa. Journal of the International African Institute , Vol. 52, No. 2, 1982, pp. 31-50
  • Gillian Feeley-Harnik: Sakalava Dancing Battles. Representations of Conflict in Sakalava Royal Service. In: Anthropos , Vol. 83, No. 1, 1988, pp. 65-88

Web links

Commons : Sakalava  - collection of images, videos and audio files