It is rare to see a civilization crumbling before your eyes, but here it is.
In Tamatave I thought the shabby decrepitude was due to 100 years of rain. But here, facing Africa, it is hot and dry. And yet here the same sense of ineluctable crumbling.
The above and all following pictures were taken in the best area, near the government buildings and ‘major’ hotels here in Mahajanga, one of the biggest cities in Madagascar. They are not in any way exceptional. The picture is everywhere the same: a few with money, but the majority beggared:
The lack of generally recognized (or respected) central government authority since the coup in 2009, believed by many to have been French-engineered, means even government buildings now entertain goats and chickens.
Why would they do it? Formerly a French colony, apparently the popularly elected president was moving the country away from France, and the final straw was that he sponsored a constitutional amendment to replace French as the #2 official language with English. No doubt you need to be French to understand. However he was also responsible for firing on protesters, something even the most popular mandates do not cover.
But even the progressive government disintegration that has continued since then is not the whole story.
The final piece may be that this land has been so bountiful for so long that the people have insufficient sense of infrastructure. Stuff grows in the forests. On the road here there were small forests of mango trees everywhere. Chickens, ducks and goats run wild. Rooves can be thatched. So preventative maintenance, while there is little money to do much of it, may also not yet be in their genes.