Gossip plays a profound role in disseminating and receiving news, entertainment, and to caution others in small towns. Ever since I’ve arrived I’ve heard whispers of bad men kidnapping Malagasy children so that their bones can be sold abroad to foreigners. Graves are seriously guarded because of this. When I ask what exactly these bones are used for no one is able to give an explanation. Even though these bone collectors borders on urban legend it is so deeply embedded in the local psyche I am unsure whether to dismiss it simply as myth. Even highly educated people with influence are convinced this is true and will give me specific examples and “proof” of these occurrences.
There was one time that I noticed a large crowd form around the commune of my village. A twelve year old girl was returned by her uncle’s wife since she was worried that the police were on her tail for kidnapping her niece in the attempt to sell her to human traffickers in the north. I heard about the story for a week. Children are constantly told by their parents to never play or walk by themselves at night. The fear is pervasive. My community wouldn’t let me leave to go to the forests or neighboring communes if I wasn’t accompanied by at least one person.
I’ve been hearing more and more about a so-called satanic club. Supposedly some foreigners came to spread the message of Satan in Madagascar. One can find whole articles written about it in Malagasy journals. Their method of indoctrination is by calling with unknown numbers, threats, and promises of wealth to those in desperate situations. Perhaps you can think of them as the arch nemeses of a missionary.
So these are just a couple examples of stories that are discussed with hushed voices and believed by many without any concrete evidence. To be honest I’m a little freaked out myself. No one knows whether these things are really true, half-true, or simply make believe but it has enough of an impact on ones mentality to influence how one acts including me. So you may think that writing about this on the internet is a bit mad but let’s be real. How much of a threat am I putting myself in, especially if this is “common” knowledge here?