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The Antakarana of Madagascar

05 January 2012 | 43 comments | Antakarana, Southern, Unreached


Pray for the Antakarana of  Madagascar. They live at the far north of the island, isolated from others. Most are fishermen. Years ago during a civil war, the King made a vow that if his people survived, they would convert to Islam. They did survive and kept the vow, although they have mixed Islam with their traditional beliefs.

Pray that the Antakarana will “sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.” Isaiah 42:10

A cow sacrifice was made recently to call upon the ancestors through spirit possession to communicate to them about the TIMO team that will be living on Nosy Mitsio. Pray that God’s truth and power be made known so that the Antakarana people may be set free from bondage to their ancestors. Pray that the King would be ‘filled with joy because he has come to believe in God- he and his whole household.’ Acts 16:34

We praise the Lord for the in roads he has made for the Antakarana people. SIL are in the process of translating the gospel of Luke. Also, leaders for the team have been in contact for some months. They have already begun to learn language and the Antakarana way of life. The history of the Antakarana means that they have no scripture access to the “Christian” Merina dialect, since they were the ones oppressing them. Pray the Antakarana would have ears to hear the Good News in their own language.

Population: 300,000

Location and Background: The Antakarana, who are originally of mixed Austronesian, African and Arab ancestry, settled in the far north of Madagascar in the 12th c. with the town of Ambatoharanana considered their capital. They are called “People  of the White Coral Rocks” as they live in a geographically isolated, rocky place. In the late 18th c they mixed with the Sakalava, and although they are now separate groups, they are still considered close. The Island of Nosy Mitsio has major significance because of the role it played during the Merina invasion.

History: During the Merina invasion, when the Antakarana were in danger of being wiped out, their king Tsimiaro I hid in caves with them for over a year. Life was difficult and many died. He prayed that if his people should survive, they would embrace Islam. He then took a group of people with him in dugout  canoes to find refuge on the island of Nosy Mitsio and converted to Islam in the 1840s.

Culture: Some live as coastal fishermen, but in the interior the villagers harvest rice and raise cattle, as well as grow crops on a small scale. Others work in factories and do other work in towns.  They see themselves as Antakarana before they consider themselves Muslim and are proud of their history and culture.

Religion: In this mix of folk Islam and animistic beliefs there are many deities and elements of nature that play a significant role. They adhere to many taboos in their daily lives. Elaborate burial rituals are the primary link between the living and the dead. The most significant event is the tsanga-tsaina, a festival which occurs every five years, in which they commemorate the arrival of the kings and royalty, and demonstrate their commitment to their king. The current king is Tsimiaro III.

Learn more about the Antakarana at Joshua Project or about Madagascar at Operation World.

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Prayer Updates

  1. Antakarana champion July 28, 2016

    Please pray for the Bible storying efforts on Nosy Mitsio. There hasn’t been much progress for the last few weeks, as several villages (or their headmen) have appeared reluctant to gather and meet to discuss the stories. Praise God that one village (Marimbehely) has been faithful to meet and learn more. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw the people of Nosy Mitsio to himself, that he would help them understand and remember the Bible stories, and that he would convict the people on how to follow him, and to share his stories with others.

  2. Antakarana champion July 19, 2016

    TIMO team members recently traveled with a group of men to a nearby island (north of Nosy Mitsio), to chop logs to make repairs on the local school. It’s an island with many exceptional taboos, due to ancient ancestors buried there. The team members wanted to share a Bible story with that group of men there, but were told it was taboo to speak of Jesus/God on that island. Breaking the taboo was said to result in getting deathly ill and unable to leave the island. It provided the team members a good opportunity to share more about Jesus/God and how he’s more powerful than any dead ancestor, taboo, or possessing spirit and that when we trust in him we have nothing to fear. No curse or illness followed and the work trip was completed smoothly… something for the men of Nosy Mitsio to think about. Please keep praying that the Antakarana people will have an opportunity to see God’s power in action, that they will be able to relate the Bible stories they’re hearing to the life-changing realities of Jesus that will free them from fear/oppression.

  3. Antakarana champion July 1, 2016

    Follow this link to read a short story about the work of the TIMO team among the Antakarana of Nosy Mitsio, and how they’re responding to some of the traditional ancestral customs with the truth of Jesus:

    Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to guide the team in their responses to the ancestral culture of the Antakarana people.

  4. Antakarana champion June 19, 2016

    Please pray for the Antakarana people during Ramadan. Pray that those fasting would discover that their works won’t truly “clean” them, but that Jesus can. Pray that the many who’ve chosen not to fast would still have a desire to know God and be known by him, and that they would discover that fulfillment in Jesus. Pray for the many Antakarana hearing and discussing Bible stories on Nosy Mitsio during this time: that they would find real truth in God’s story, and that the Holy Spirit would convict them to follow him.

  5. Antakarana champion June 9, 2016

    Several villages in northern Nosy Mitsio will begin Discovery Bible Studies within the next week or two. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would open hearts and minds to understand his message and that he would draw the Antakarana people into a renewed relationship with him!

  6. Antakarana champion May 30, 2016

    Please pray for the community meeting being held in northern Nosy Mitsio tomorrow (Tuesday). They’ll be discussing how to continue the basic healthcare training and provision begun by the TIMO team. They’ll also receive the opportunity to begin gathering in each of their villages and discuss Bible stories (in Discovery Bible Study format). Please pray that the Holy Spirit opens their hearts and minds to embrace these opportunities as a whole community, particularly in the face of recent spiritual warfare.

  7. Antakarana champion May 28, 2016

    A big ancestral spirit possession ceremony (attempting to find relief for one possessed woman’s sickness) was held during the last couple days in the team leaders’ village on Nosy Mitsio. As a result, several more people, including the “king” of Nosy Mitsio and a headwoman in a team member’s village, are now also possessed by spirits. The headwoman went into a wild trance that severely frightened many others in her village. Some asked team members for prayer but one woman, attempting to care for the possessed lady, vehemently refused any prayers to Jesus, as the spirit claimed to be frightened by the team members and demanded they leave. Please pray for a power encounter with the spirits of Nosy Mitsio, that the Holy Spirit would demonstrate his presence in power and love for the Antakarana people. Please pray that the TIMO team members would have wisdom and discernment to know when and how to speak up for God and when to challenge the local spirits that torment the Antakarana people, even if it might be in opposition to some local people (and the spirits which possess them).

  8. Antakarana champion May 27, 2016

    Pray for Vazaha, a seeker from one of the villages of Nosy Mitsio. He came and spoke for several hours today to a team member about the story of Jesus, about protection from ancestral spirits, release from taboos, and how to trust in God who is unseen. He said he wants to trust and is seeking more. I believe the Holy Spirit is revealing his truths to Vazaha, beyond the ability of the words of the TIMO team member. Pray that the Holy Spirit would come as Vazaha invites him to come and reveal his truths and give understanding, strength, and faith.

  9. Antakarana champion May 14, 2016

    Please pray for a young man in the village of Marimbehely on Nosy Mitsio. Yesterday while working with cows in the ricefield, he seriously injured his leg: either dislocated at the knee or torn muscles/ligaments. The local communities are very concerned for this young man. The TIMO team was able to provide boat transport to a nearby village where they are attempting special massages and other traditional remedies. Team members have also prayed with him and with other villagers present. Please pray that God would answer these prayers, heal this young man, and make himself known in love and power to the Antakarana people.

  10. Antakarana champion April 11, 2016

    Several people in northern Nosy Mitsio have been possessed by spirits in the last month, causing them to experience violent sickness and forcing them to submit to ever-more-restrictive taboos. Many people acknowledge how the common practice of ancestral spirit possession “bothers” them and “disarrays” their lives. But they’re usually afraid to resist the spirits because of potential harmful consequences. Please pray that the TIMO team’s witness of a life lived without fear of evil spirits, because of our trust in and protection from God, would open up new possibilities for the Antakarana people. Pray that they would have faith and courage to accept the Holy Spirit who can protect them from any evil spirit that would attempt to possess them, and who has the power to expel those already possessing them.

  11. Antakarana champion March 2, 2016

    Three men died yesterday in Ambilobe when a building they were working on collapsed on top of them. Please pray for those grieving and for those asking “why”, that they would turn to Jesus and find their answers in him. (Luke 13:1-9)

  12. Antakarana champion January 27, 2016

    Please pray for the Antakarana of Nosy Mitsio. A sickness is spreading quickly right now (high fevers and lung congestion) and some are turning to their ancestors to try to remove the sickness. Please pray that the Antakarana people would experience the personal love and power of the Creator, that he would bring healing from this widespread sickness, and that they would know him as revealed in Jesus.

  13. Antakarana champion January 10, 2016

    Please pray for the communities of northern Nosy Mitsio. The ministry team has recently held a successful community meeting with them to initiate a basic healthcare ministry using principles of transformational development. Please pray that future meetings and efforts will be successful, and that the Antakarana can learn to trust in the power of God for healing, as revealed in Jesus, rather than in their ancestors.

  14. Antakarana champion November 20, 2015

    A migrant fisherman from a team member’s village just recently died in an offshore diving accident. Please pray for the fisherman’s family and for our neighbors on Nosy Mitsio, that this would be an occasion for them to seek renewed relationships with the Creator and access to the only spiritual power which can truly save; that as our team begins to share God’s story with them, they would find Jesus is the answer to their questions.

  15. Madagascar champion November 18, 2015

    The team has just finished developing a multi-part strategy to reach out to the people with the good news of Jesus. Whether working in the rice fields, sitting on our porches or fishing, we will speak of the God of creation and boast of him in all that we do, lifting up prayers and thanks to him as our friends watch and see that he is a part of every aspect of our lives. We will begin crafting Bible stories in the Antakarana language that they will hear, discuss, and be able to retell and share with their families. And we will work with our communities to provide much needed basic medical care and train them in the process, showing that the God of Creation is also concerned with every aspect of their lives. Please pray for us as we begin tis bold endeavour.

  16. Pray Africa July 5, 2015

    Ramadan Day 18
    A lot of the “Mu$lim” Antakarana do not follow through on Ramadan. Pray that this would lead to conversations about why fasting does not meet their spiritual needs. There is a lot of potential for spiritual conversations at this time. Pray the team reaching out to them would be wise and bold to share the Truth.

  17. Pray Africa June 19, 2015

    Ramadan Day 2
    The Antakarana do not know a lot of details about the Mu$lim practices they follow. I$lam is only a thin veneer over their traditional animistic beliefs. Pray that as they seek outside their ancestral ways, that they would experience the Holy Spirit working in them and that their searching souls would find Christ.

  18. Pray Africa November 18, 2014

    We did a survey of Bobaomby on the north tip of Madagascar. The Evangelical Baptist Church of Madagascar would like to partner with AIM in a church planting strategy for that area. We’re waiting for the denomination to present their strategy to us. Pray that we can work together. There are 12 known believers.

  19. Pray Africa November 18, 2014

    The TIMO Team arrived last week and just completed their orientation. They are now on Nosy Mitsio and have begun their homestays. Praise that they’re finally here and pray that they adjust well and start into some good relationships.

  20. Antakarana champion November 5, 2014

    The TIMO Antakarana team is in the air and on their way to Madagascar! Please pray for their safe travels and especially for their smooth adjustment to life and language on Nosy Mitsio. Also pray especially for their communities and host families during these first few weeks – that they will begin to sense the Holy Spirit bringing something new in their lives.

  21. Madagascar champion September 22, 2014

    Nosy Mitsio has had strong east winds for over 2 weeks now that are causing trouble for transport and everyone’s livelihood. The people believe it’s the result of a broken ancestral taboo (hanging an octopus wrongly while drying it) and they will meet next Tuesday to discuss the perpetrator and try to appease the ancestors. Please pray for the winds to let up and people’s lives to resume. Pray for God to reveal himself to the Antakarana people, freeing them from fear of ancestral taboos and the social discord of placing blame. Pray that they would know the Creator who revealed himself to our eyes: Jesus.

  22. Madagascar champion August 4, 2014

    The Antakarana people believe their ancestors will be “opening the door” again in August. They will have a big ceremony and sacrifice at an important site on mainland Madagascar Aug 14-16. Please pray that God would reveal himself to the Antakarana, that they would know the one who has made himself a sacrifice for them and who never “closes the door” on them, but always draws near.

  23. Pray Africa July 20, 2014

    Ramadan Day 23: More Muslims around the world are coming to Christ than ever before. Praise God that ‘the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which is lost.’ (Luke 19:10) Keep praying! God is answering your prayers.

  24. Pray Africa July 9, 2014

    Ramadan Day 12: In Matthew 11:27-28 Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me…” Jesus wants Muslims to know Him! Pray Jesus would reveal the Father to Muslims, and they would come to Jesus.

  25. Antakarana champion June 30, 2014

    Those following the Ramadan fast on Nosy Mitsio believe it will make them “clean” before God and grant them his favor. Pray that they would know the God who made us clean in Jesus and who gave us his favor before we even asked for it.

  26. Pray Africa June 28, 2014

    Ramadan Day 1: As Muslims begin their month of fasting, pray that they would find it spiritually empty and ask God, “Why have we fasted and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?” (Isaiah 58:3)

  27. Antakarana champion June 5, 2014

    June and July are the months of “closing the door” for the Antakarana people; a time when they’re unable to have any significant communication with their ancestors, whether it’s for receiving requests, healing sicknesses, or mediating spirit possessions – all of their normal interactions with their ancestors. Please pray that during this time of silence from their ancestors, that the Antakarana people would be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit leading them to Jesus.

  28. Antakarana champion May 15, 2014

    Please pray for the parents and the children of Nosy Mitsio. Currently there is a boat going around Nosy Mitsio to the schools and villages trying to buy children for $2500 each, and they’re presenting what they’re saying are “government papers” authorizing them to do it. Please pray that the parents won’t be tempted to destroy their children’s lives for the sake of a quick profit. Please pray that those doing the human trafficking will be caught and brought to justice. Pray for those who are already their victims, that God will bring them liberation and new life.

  29. SR Champion March 27, 2014

    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord ” My refuge and my fortress, My God , in whom I trust” Ps 91v1-2

  30. SR Champion March 27, 2014

    We praise the Lord for team leaders who have settled within the bounds of the kings household! Pray that God’s glory would be revealed on the island of Nosy Mitso, that as the Antakarana, worship trees and rocks, their eyes would be opened to the Great Creator God who made the universe.

    Adam writes,” Pray for the village of Antanimomivony,(the site for one of the team members) that the people and especially the headman there, would have their hearts softened by God, to be able to stop seeking material wealth and recieve the greater blessings that God has to offer them.”

  31. SR Champion March 13, 2014

    Pray for the King of the Antakarana…that he would be “filled with joy because he had come to believe in God-he and his whole household.” Act16v34

  32. SR Champion March 13, 2014

    We praise the Lord for the in roads he has made for the Antakarana people. SIL are in the process of translating the gospel of Luke. A survey was made back in 2011 which decided the best place for a team would be Ambatoharanana, since it is a cultually significant site (the place where the kings are buried) Also, leaders for a team have been insitu for some months. They have already begun to learn language and Antakarana way of life. The history of the Antakarana means that they have no scripture access to the “Christian” Merina dialect, since they were the ones oppressing them. The
    were “saved” by I$lam and have made a historical vow to that end. They are however folk i$lamists to the extreme, where they drink alcahol, eat pork and do not pray 5 times a day. Their main alliance is to their ancestors, giving value to sacred objects and sites, related to them. Pray for their king, that he, along with all his people, may trust and know intimacy with the One true Saviour.

  33. SR Champion November 26, 2013

    Several scattered skulls, the stench of rotting flesh, and a handful of abandoned shacks, the only things left from the weeks festivities. The quietness of our village was typical and not unexpected, but it was still a huge difference from the hundreds of people worshipping their ancestors here during the preceding days.

    Once every five years the Antakarana have a ceremony called “Tsangasaina”. For everything there is a “fomba” that is supposed to be done, for fear of offending the ancestors.

    Pray for the King, as he take the lead in these ceremonies, that Jesus would be revealed to him and the scales would fall from his eyes. Pray for those working in this spiritual environment that they would be the sweet fragrance of Christ, that many Antakarana long for.

  34. SR Champion September 23, 2013

    A cow sacrifice was made last week to call upon the ancestors through spirit possession and to communicate to them about the TIMO team that will be living on Nosy Mitsio. Pray that God’s truth and power be made known so that the Antakarana people may be set free from bondage to their ancestors.

  35. Madagascar champion July 19, 2013

    A builder for the team huts has been found. He and his crew will begin construction in August and have set a goal to be finished by mid-December, before the rainy season begins. They are unable to build at present because there is a taboo against building new nuts during this lunar month (ending 5 August). Pray that materials can be sourced and building can progress quickly before the rains arrive.

  36. Antakarana champion March 20, 2013

    We have been given permission from the government offices in Ambilobe to place a team of learners on the island. I have been asked to go to Ambilobe in person in July to share more details about the team and our plans. Please pray for wisdom in communicating appropriately and in ways that will facilitate the team’s ministry.

  37. Antakarana champion December 17, 2012

    After the survey trip in November, we have found 4 sites for TIMO team members including the location for the leaders who will arrive in July 2013. We also got permission for a short airstrip, the construction of which will hopefully begin in February 2013. Our contact in Nosy Mitsio will be travelling to Ambilobe soon to apply for official permission for the team and the airstrip. We are praying that these meetings go well and that the government is favorable to our plans.

  38. Antakarana champion November 1, 2012

    We have identified team leaders for the TIMO team in Nosy Mitsio. This is a big answer to prayer! A young family, who has been working with YWAM in Madagascar, has agreed to partner with AIM in this endeavour. We are doing a survey trip 24 – 27 November to determine the location for the team leaders’ hut and the appropriate ground for an airstrip. We are praying that the team leaders will be in place by July 2013 so that they can begin preparing for the arrival of their team members. More information on this family to come!

  39. Antakarana champion July 4, 2012

    MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) secured funding to build an airstrip on Nosy Mitsio, a remote island in the northwest of Madagascar. Nosy Mitsio is considered the cultural heart of the Antakarana and is the location of the last stand of the Antakarana king when he fled the mainland Merina invasion. Due to the little island’s isolation, the airstrip is important in our plans to place a team of language and culture learners there.

  40. Antakarana champion March 30, 2012

    SIL has a team of translators working on the Gospel of Luke in the Antakarana dialect. The project is still in the beginning stages but this will be a great resource and major answer to prayer. One of the most difficult blocks to the Gospel in the Anatakarana lands is the lack of any material or church in the dialect. The Gospel message will remain foreign to the Antakarana people until materials and churches are available in the dialect.

    The team of translators are in the town of Ambatoharanana. This is a very culturally significant place – where the Antakarana kings are buried and where the traditional “tsanga tsaina” ceremony is held.

  41. OFM March 19, 2012

    Watch this newly released video “Bound to the Past” about the Antakarana and related Sakalava at
    Also watch an interview with Daniel about the Antakarana:

  42. January 18, 2012

    Check out this article: “an island too far” at

  43. January 16, 2012

    A few months ago, Daniel traveled with a team to Nosy Mitsio, a little island off the NE coast. The survey team visited several villages where the gospel was considered a foreign message and inappropriate for the Antakarana people. This is the cultural center for the A people, and they are looking at how they can place a team to live amongst them to share Christ’s love.

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