June 5, as I said in my previous posts, I went hiking in Ambohitrabiby. Ambohitrabiby is on the National Road #3, 20 km from Antananarivo.
I made some research about Ambohitrabiby before going there. Ambohitabiby is well-known for its silk production. I also discovered that it is one the 12 sacred hills in Imerina. [History… would I be good at it? lol] The King Andrianampoinimerina (1745-1810) had 12 wives. He chose 12 hilltops where he placed each of his wives. There were Palaces and tombs in each of these 12 hills that is why they are sacred.
I expected to visit the Palace in Ambohitrabiby. It made me so sad to discover that it has not been maintained so we could not visit the Palace. We could just visit a room they called ‘museum’ (also poorly maintained 😦 ) where paintings were hung on the walls (see pics). The paintings showed the hill in the era of kingdoms, the life of the villagers.
We could also see tombs of the Kings and Queens who had reigned in Ambohitrabiby. We could see the King Rabiby’s and his wife’s tomb. The name Ambohitrabiby came from this King (Habib) Rabiby (1500 – 1575) later. Ambohitrabiby = Ao amin’ny Vohitr’ i Rabiby (At the hill of Rabiby).
We could see as well the tomb of the King Ralambo (1575 – 1612) well-known as the one who taught Malagasy people that beef is edible. By the way, I could learn that at the beginning, oxen were called ‘Jamoka’ (see pic of the entrance gate). The ancient villagers of Ambohitrabiby used the gate to make the ‘Jamoka’ enter in the village. They chose fat oxen for the King so everytime they tried to make the oxen enter the gate, they shouted ‘omby ve sa tsy omby?’ (does it fit the ox or not?). When the oxen could pass through the gate, the men shouted ‘omby’ (yes, it fits the ox). Then, people have kept the name ‘omby’ to call the oxen.
An exciting experience I lived in Ambohitrabiby was when I crawled in a ‘zohy’ (a kind of underground tunnel used for escape if enemies attack).
Ambohitrabiby is not a big city and new technologies are not really seen there. People have countryside life style and it was so touching that all villagers still said ‘Manao ahoana, tompoko ô’ (‘Hello’) when we passed by.
Enjoy the pics.
This link may interest you: ‘The Merina (or Hova) Dynasty’