Malagasy Tale: Trimobe and the Little Girl

Madagascar conte_Trimobe-12-créatures-légendaires-qui-hantent-Madagascar-1
Trimobe (Source: La Mozeration @Tokikycity, Mada-Actus Info)

A little girl who has been abandoned in the woods by her two evil sisters, meets the monster Trimobe, who tells her, “You will be my daughter, Rafara.” He takes her home, locks her in his den and feeds her with food. His plan is to “eat her when she will be well-fed and plump.”… Days go by.

One night, a small hungry mouse asks Rafara for food. Rafara, listening only to her good heart, gives the mouse food. To thank her, the mouse gives her a staff, a rock, and one egg, while advising her to flee as quickly as possible.

The bird

Rafara runs away. The monster pursues the little girl and quickly catches up to her. Rafara throws her staff while saying, “Dear staff, gift of the mouse, turn into a lake,” and the staff becomes a lake. But Trimobe in a few sips drinks it all. The little girl then throws the rock while saying, “Dear rock, gift of the mouse, turn into a forest,” and instantly the rock turns into a forest. Trimobe, thanks to his powerful and sharp tail, cuts all the trees down. Rafara then throws the egg while saying, “Dear little egg, gift of the mouse, turn into a mountain!” She finds herself at the top of the mountain. The bird Vovondreo who was passing by, agrees to take her with him in exchange for colorful rocks.

Her father welcomes her with joy. He wants to punish the two evil sisters but Rafara, so kind, intercedes on their behalf in front of her father. Rafara grows up to be so beautiful that the king’s son asks for her hand in marriage.

This is a short version of the tale on Contes a Rever, translated to English by Dr. Y.

Malagasy Tale: Ibonia Prescribes Laws and Bids Farewell

Flag of Madagascar
Flag of Madagascar

Here is part of a Malagasy tale which is several hundred years old: it is part of the Ibonia, an epic Malagasy poem told in various forms across Madagascar. The Ibonia is like  Homer‘s epic poem the Odyssey for the people of Madagascar. One could say that it is the story of creation. You can find more about it here.


Ibonia and Joy-Giving Girl stayed married about ten years. About three years before his death, he gave his will to his father and mother, his wife and children, and all the people in an around Long-Standing. He said, “This I declare to you: soon I am to return to the place of lying down.’ Close at hand is the day when Ibonia will be removed, and Inabo [another of his names] will go the way of all those whose doors face west [the dead]. That is a fate to take down one’s manhood. For to the earth we return and lie in state. Inabo is not to be buried to rot; he is to be planted to grow — to die by day and live by night.


     “I declare that Inabo’s return is coming. These then are the orders I leave you.
“The first and most important thing is marriage.
If you are a prince,
if you are a ruler,
if you are a governor,
if you are a spokesman,
do not untie the bonds of marriage.
The road of marriage is binding even unto death.
Do not divide it.”

(This admonition, they say
, strengthened people’s marriages.)
     “Second: listen. I shall change my name, for one’s name on earth does not got back to heaven. Before the lord of heaven all things are new. My grandfather is holy. These will be my names:
Pierced Earth,
Sound-of-his-Steps-Deafens-Even-the Distant. 

Now, listen, all of you.
When there is thunder,
when the skies weep,
and when the rain falls,
lament, O Beautiful-Rich,
for that will be your son,
whose footsteps deafen even the distant.”

(That, they say
, was the first time it was said, “It is a bad day for old women,” when it thunders.)
     And when the three years had passed — Ibonia had said, “I will die when three years have passed” — then he died.