Everyday life in Madagascar is governed by a variety of fady (taboos) that differ by area. They may prohibit certain foods (pork, lemurs, turtles, etc. ), the wearing of certain colors, and swimming in a river or lake. The practice of “Fady” is mainly confined to rural regions, since visitors who stay in major cities are unlikely to experience this issue. There are Fadys in locations like Antananarivo, but the majority of Vazaha are exempt.
Fady are ascribed to ancestors, to whom Malagasy, regardless of their faith, show reverence. Even if you don’t agree with the restrictions, it’s best to follow them and not break them. When you first arrive in a new location, learn about the local customs.
Use the term “tompoko (toom-pook)” in the same manner you would “Sir” or “Ma’am” in English when addressing someone older than you or in a position of authority (e.g. police, military, customs officials). In Madagascar, respect for elders and authoritative figures is essential.
Never photograph a grave without first obtaining permission. Before taking pictures, always get permission. In addition, if you have business in a distant village or hamlet, it is fomba or custom that you first meet with the local chief. If you have job to accomplish there, meeting this individual may save you a lot of time.