The Tanala of Madagascar
Pray for the Tanala of Madagascar. They live in the forest of South East Madagascar, in difficult to reach areas. They are a large group and are skilled woodsmen, hunters and gatherers. They also practice slash and burn farming, which is discouraged by the government.They are animists and venerate the spirits found in the forest. Pray for Christian farmers to come and teach them another way to farm and another Way to live.
Location and Background: The Tanala people, also called Antanala, live in southeastern Madagascar and are separated from the coast by the Antaimoro and other ethnic groups. They are a large tribe of forest dwellers living inland. Their homeland separates the east coast from the central highlands. The Ranomafana National Park is located in the area of the Tanala. They are divided into two subgroups: the Tanala Menabe in the mountainous north and the Tanala Ikongo dwelling in the more accessible southern part. Tanala Menabe villages are isolated. They are built on mountain tops and are hidden in the dense forest.
History: At the time of the French conquest, the northern Tanala were under Merina domination while the southern Tenala still held many independent fiefdoms.
Culture: The Tanala are skilled woodsmen, food gatherers, and hunters. They trade beeswax, honey, and other forest products and engage in slash-and-burn agriculture, growing rice as a staple. The central government is encouraging the Tanala to use more modern agricultural methods in the cultivation of rice and coffee. The Tanala observe patrilineal descent and often live in large compounds consisting of a father and his sons or of a group of brothers. Their houses are usually built on stilts. Besides slash-and-burn agriculture, they grow rice, corn, yams and coffee. The traditional dance of the Tanala (Dombolo) has become widely recognized and popular.
Religion: The Tanala hold deeply to their traditional religious practices, which is based on animism and ancestor worship. They believe that there are spirits all around us in nature and that people must try to please the spirits. Animists usually live with a certain amount of fear that a spirit will be unhappy with them. Very few of the population is evangelical but there has been some church planting among them within the past two years.
Latest Prayer Updates:
We praise the Lord that there are now three churches planted by local believers in three different villages around Ikongo, and two other villages are asking Jean Baptiste to come start a church in their villages as well. Jean Baptiste is the only Malagasy partner serving in this area at present and is asking for more labourers to come serve with him. The harvest is great but the labourers are few. He hopes to bring two or three believers from these three churches to the Malagasy training in April. Please pray for Jean Baptiste that the Lord will sustain him and strengthen him. Also pray for more workers to join him in this work among the Tanala.
The King of one village and his wife had decided to follow Jesus, but it wasn’t seeming to make much difference to their daily lives. A local pastor moved into the area and took the responsibility of going to preach in the village weekly despite struggles with their dialect. He was well received and the king has since been thinking seriously about the practical consequences of following Jesus.
Meanwhile the king in another village had a son who went away to study and then returned with news that he had become a believer and been baptised. The king has now decided that he and his family will also follow Jesus, having been convinced through the testimony of his son that the stories he had been hearing were in fact true!
Praise God! Keep lifting up the kings of these villages as they allow the gospel to transform every area of their lives.