Music & Words | Mikea

When Théo Rakotovao was a child, he watched over hundreds of zebus in southwest Madagascar. On a typical day he would leave home at 6 am and return at 6 pm. In order to occupy himself during the day, he sang the Beko (blues), not thinking much of it.

When he was sixteen years old, his father pushed him to go to school and it was there that his musical career started to take form, when he learned to play the guitar, the accordion, the flute. It was not until much later that he realised that his voice was the embodiment of the Beko. According to Théo ‘Beko is a mix between the blues, flamenco, and vocal styles of Corsica and the Arab world. I have it in my blood.’ So he started the group Mikea in 2003.
At first he did not dare to tell his parents and when he did, their surprise was great: ‘Who wants to listen to the songs of someone who herds zebus?’
He persevered and succeeded. First there was his album Longo, released locally and selected for the Prix Musiques de l'Océan Indien in 2007. In 2008 Mikea was awarded with Prix Découvertes RFI. In 2009 the album Taholy (Nostalgia) was released. Tours in Africa, Europe and Canada followed, the Beko-blues of Mikea has become a world wide success.

Whenever Théo performs outside the ‘Grande Île’ (Madagascar), he likes to tell the stories of his childhood, stories of the Mikea people he belongs to and for whom, having named his group after them, he is now the standard bearer. And upon returning home to Antanimieva (still without water and electricity) he teaches the folks who stayed behind what the incredible 21st century world of the neighboring cities is like, bearing witness, forging links, extending in his own way the reaches of the global village to include compatriots from other regions, all the while flying the flag for the Mikea, whose culture has to date either been ignored altogether or considered tacky.

spatie spatie spatie artiest