Belo sur Tsiribihina, a small village located off the west coast of Madagascar, approximately 100 km north of Morondava, is a fascinating and historically rich destination. This territory was the cradle of the Menabe Sakalava Kingdom, the Volamena dynasty, founded by Andriamanetiarivo, the grandson of the famous King Ndremisara. The relics of these kings and their successors are kept in a sanctuary called “zomba” in Malagasy.
Belo, translated literally means “many are rotten”, was the result of clashes between the Merina military sent by King Radama I for his conquest, and the militants of the Sakalava Kingdom protecting their territory. At the time, there had been two wars: one in Belo sur Tsiribihina and the other in Belo sur Mer.
Belo sur Tsiribihina and Fitampoha
Fitampoha is a ceremony of the Sakalava Menabe dynasty where royal relics are bathed in the Tsiribihina River.
The relics consist of the nail of the little finger, occipital bone and the canines of the upper jaw taken from each king after their death, all mixed with the croc of the lower jaw of a crocodile, particular wooden pieces and gold coins. The whole will be placed in the hollow of a wood carved in an ox-horn shape and decorated with glass beads.
In the past, this ritual took place every ten years, but today the Menabe Sakalava people perpetuate it every five years.
Discovering the surrounding areas
Belo sur Tsiribihina enjoys a tropical climate where it rains more in summer than in winter, with an average annual rainfall of 959 mm. The average temperature is 26°C.