Antesaka people


Antesaka / Antaisaka / Tesaka / Tesaki

The Antesaka, also known as Tesaka, or Tesaki, are an ethnic group of Madagascar traditionally concentrated south of Farafangana along the south-eastern coast. They have since spread more widely throughout the island. The Antesaka form about 5% of the population of Madagascar. They have mixed African, Arab and Malayo-Indonesian ancestry, like the western coastal Sakalava people of Madagascar from whom the clan derives. They traditionally have strong marriage taboos and complex funeral rites. The Antesaka typically cultivate coffee, bananas and rice, and those along the coast engage in fishing. A large portion of the population has emigrated to other parts of the island for work, with an estimated 40% of emigrants between 1948 and 1958 permanently settling outside the Antesaka homeland.

Antesaka people

The group was founded by Andriamandresy, a Sakalava prince who was cast out of Menabe after engaging in violence upon being passed over in the line of succession. The Antesaka constituted one of the four largest kingdoms in pre-colonial Madagascar by the early 1700s, and a political party founded by two Antesaka brothers in the runup to independence in 1960 went on to produce several local and national leaders. As of 2013, an estimated 600,000 Malagasy identify as Antesaka.


Ethnic identity

Antesaka have mixed African, Arab and Malayo-Indonesian ancestry, and are descended from a royal branch of the coastal Sakalava people of western Madagascar.



Family life and marriage in particular is regulated by numerous fady (taboos). Twins are seen as taboo, and were traditionally killed after birth or left in the forest to die. Although this practice has been outlawed, it persists among some traditional communities, and twins are not permitted to be buried alongside their family members.



Antesaka speak a dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group derived from the Barito languages, spoken in southern Borneo.


Funeral rites

In villages they inhabit rectangular one-room houses made of local plant material. Located on the eastern side of the house, this extra door is only used to remove a corpse from the living quarters. Traditional burial customs involve drying a corpse for two to three years before moving it to a communal burial house called a kibory, which is hidden in a sacred forest restricted to men, termed the ala fady. Before the dried corpse is moved to the kibory, the village practices a ritual called tranondonaky. The dried corpse is moved to a separate house accompanied by the women of the village, who cry together on cue, and then begin to dance. The men gather in the house of the village leader and take turns individually going to the corpse house to affix money to the deceased using a specified type of oil. Until morning, when the corpse is moved to the kibory, the village children will dance to drum music outside.

The men transport the body to the sacred forest, where they privately speak their last words to the deceased.

Antesaka woman old picture



Their principal economic activity is the cultivation of coffee, rice and bananas; women are ones primarily responsible for rice harvest, in accordance with local tradition. Those living along the coast often rely on fishing as a principal source of income. Many Antesaka have migrated since the colonial period to seek employment in other parts of the island. Beginning in 1946, the French colonial government organized transportation for Antesaka and Antandroy laborers to work sites in other parts of the island to work on plantations or mines. Annually, an estimated 40% of all Antesaka migrants resettled permanently outside their traditional territory in the early 1960s; these migrants typically sent cash back to their family members at home