Where Zebus Speak French
Does farmer Ly have dealings with the Chinese, who have recently been tampering with the infrastructure of the village of Sitabaomba, not far from the Malagasy capital of Antananarivo, director Nantenaina Lova asks as bluntly as mischievously. Ly denies it. However, it becomes increasingly clear in the course of “Where Zebus Speak French” that the various development measures, often introduced by foreign initiatives and fuelled by corrupted politicians, also affect him.
Focussing on Sitabaomba, Lova shows over several years how the village population attempt to defend their farmland. Their fight is reminiscent of David against Goliath but doesn’t lead to despondence. Because in Madagascar, a very unique form of artistic, especially linguistic expression has always been cultivated which, at its best, allows people to maintain an inner independence. The commentary is therefore spoken in the style of “Kabary.” This polite, rhetorically sophisticated and sometimes mocking form of speech elegantly circumvents criticism, thus stating it all the more clearly. An artist also visits the village repeatedly and makes stones speak with the children, confirming an attitude Nantenaina Lova describes as follows: “Laughing at injustice rather than crying, resisting rather than pitying.”