The Local Music Scene

Our family has had the opportunity to spend time with some local musicians for a few months now, learning the Sakalava language and culture and discovering their musical talent. Ladis, the lead singer, is the oldest son of our home-stay father, Papa Armand (the post from last New Years shows Papa with a huge smile, holding the turkey and chickens above his head with pride). Matis plays lead guitar, Edme plays backup with a traditional Malagasy guitar, and Fabio and Lino play percussion. Since Rebe began learning to play the guitar last October, our new friends have encouraged her along the way. She admits that their African rhythms are brilliant, and that there’s a sharp learning curve between Sakalava music and, “It is Well, With My Soul”.

The guys creating the Daniel 3 song.

The guys creating the Daniel 3 song.

As a family we have chosen to encourage and empower their musical makings. Most Saturdays they visit our house, relax on our deck, play music and share a meal with us. It’s been a blessing to build these friendships and they have been generous in sharing their knowledge of the local culture (especially the culture of the younger generation) with us. They often play music at local ceremonial rituals, and many of their songs deal with traditional culture and values, including the honoring and veneration of their ancestors. We have had several occasions to learn about their understanding of God and spirituality and share the truth of the Gospel. They have many points of connection, like their belief in a Supreme Creator, that we have been able to build on. Please pray for these guys as they are eager to understand who they are in light of who God is.

Here is a video of them that we recorded at the beach just down the road from our house:

Recently, we gave them a Sakalava version of Daniel 3: 28-29 which our team leader, Rosina, translated. In English it says, “(they) yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God… for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” This is the first attempt at giving Groupe Tsinfitaka (their band name) some Sakalava scripture or worship lyrics and having them put it to local rhythms. Remember, there is little Sakalava Christian culture; no songs, no scripture, no hymns, poems, or songs. When we gave them the words, there were many other Sakalava kids (and teens) on our deck, and we were able to share with them the context in which the words were written. The words are about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refusing to obey Nebuchadnezzar’s commands to worship false gods. They then spent the rest of the afternoon creating the song, every single person on our deck singing the words over and over, imprinting them on their hearts and minds. This was two weeks ago, and just today I heard one of the kids (Tegha-14) singing the song as he was helping us clean our yard. Friends, this is exciting! We are looking forward to the day when we have enough songs to make the first Sakalava Christian album and looking ahead to the day when we will sing these Sakalava worship songs with our brothers and sisters before the throne of God above! Here is the first one: