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Bullying in Madegascar

The following is an excerpt from the counting-out book, I've been writing about this month. Reading it is a great opportunity for the class to discuss bullying, prejudice, and institutionalized racism. We will no doubt have another school shooting sometime this year. We will no doubt have another terrorist attack this year. When this happens, such a discussion is healthy and right, but using a Malagasy game collected in 1880 is a safer way to discuss the concepts behind the terror. Just a thought. Here's the excerpt.



MALEGASY—We find reported in the Folk-Lore Journal an account of a game played by the children of Madegascar, which, though not strictly a counting-out, bears a strong resemblance to customs prevailing in Europe and America. The game is thus described by the Rev. James Sibree, jun.” The children assemble in some sumbers, and one of them hides a small stone, concealing it inside the palm of the hand, putting it opposite one or other of his fingers. He then bids his companions choose, and when one guesses right the finger where the little stone is, then one is called bóka [signifying a leper], and they all rush away to save themselves upon some stone. But when they come down on the ground they are chased by the one called bóka, and if he touches any one of them his leprosy removes to the one touched. And so they go on till all have had their turn. At the end they all spit and say, “Poà, for it is not I who am a leper.”
The game resembles that played in the United States and called “Poison.” The use of the stone to determine who shall be it reminds one of the game, “Holders.”

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