Chinese cemetery of Manakara

Some curiosities of Madagascar stay well hidden and are only found by accident. One of them is in the Vatovavy-Fitovinany region in southeast Madagascar. In a small fishing village called Ampasimandrorona, a few kilometres from the centre, there is a small, old cemetery directly on the Indian Ocean. Between poor huts and tropical remains of rainforest, it seems a bit bizarre and out of place, especially since not a single Madagascan is buried in the cemetery. Instead, it is the Chinese and Senegalese who have found their last resting place here.

Presumably they are workers who were brought to Madagascar at the beginning of the 20th century as pens on the orders of the Frenchman Joseph Gallieni for the construction of the Canal des Pangalanes. Chinese workers were known at the time as particularly robust and hardworking, which was a welcome skill in the eight-year construction project. After all, the small cemetery today offers a magnificent view of the sea – even if its inhabitants can no longer enjoy it. But still today the Chinese influence of that time is noticeable in Madagascar – many descendants of the Chinese of that time live today as traders of small shops.

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