An interesting morning. Not strong on excitement but interesting. Got myself out at about 8.30 having gobsmacked everyone in reception with my sudden change of look.
Fashion note 1:
I wore a Primark/Primagucci/PriMarni light linen suit with a blue/white pinstriped shirt with cufflinks, British Lions tie and smartish brown shoes.
It took less than 5 mins to get to the Hotel de Ville and about 15 minutes to walk around it through substantial crowds to get to the entrance. Still too early so had a cup of tea in a restaurant. At 9.10 I decided to go in and find a seat which I did quickly in the front row of seats to the left of the speechifying stage and in front of the performance stage right beside the entrance so I could see everyone coming in. A very good choice as it turned out.
Fashion note 2:
Worrying return to 1920s Chicago with far too many men wearing two-one shoes or white winkle pickers. Terrifying is the men in metallic finish suits. One brown, two black, two grey and one WHITE!
And there I sat for two hours and 15 mins, people watching. I saw 4 people I knew, 2 from MFA and 2 from MoY including Nicolas who gave me the ticket. People watching is a fine way to spend time so I was quite happy watching as I reckon about two to three thousand people arrived and listening to the performers on the stage: dancers, singers drummers etc.
Fashion note 3:
I decided against wearing my well-used/dirty white hat and the sun was beating down. But at 9.45 they started giving out straw hats with red, green and white ribbons, the Malagasy colours. Excellent.
Fair play to Rajoelina, he is brave and knows his audience. Last month he was challenge by military in a (very short) coup d'etat. Today he walked through the streets from his Presidential home about a mile and a half to the Hotel de Ville, I was impressed. How many of the traditional dancers surrounding him and his wife were armed I have no idea. Once he got to the stage things moved fairly swiftly. Only two short speeches one of which sounded like poetry but I understood nothing of either. I was between 20-25 metres fron the President when he made his speech during which he did not move at all. He had a wide lectern and held a side in each hand, He was not monotonous but made no gestures and very little inflection that I could detect but his voice was firm and confident. The intermittent applause was clearly orchestrated by his party as a very loud clapping woman behind me pushed the guy next to me after one round of applause and said something to him. He applauded with everyone else at the next opportunity. I applauded out of politeness rather than fear as I had the musicians.
Rajoelina sat down after about 10 mins, very short by Malagasy standards to acceptable applause which was replaced by thunderous applause when they released about a thousand red, white and green balloons and switched on the computer controlled fountains which were basic at best. There followed a rendition from the stage next to me of, not the national anthem which I was expecting but a very popular song sung by most people in the Hotel de Ville and with tremendous enthusiasm by about 20,000 people outside. The chorus involved taking off your straw hat and waving it metronome style above your head. When that ended the platform party went inside and unveiled a plaque and I assume, went to sign the new constitution (which not one person I know has read through). I had noticed people moving in two different directions after the platform party left. Some towards the exit, others towards the red carpet entrance to the Hotel de Ville. I went with the latter but when I saw them all pulling out VIP passes I changed direction and went to ShopRite to buy some brad and veg. As I walked out I passed a series of Ford and BMW 4 wheel drives each with a driver with his hand on a gun. Presumably Rajoelina was not planning to walk up the hill to the Queen's Palace for the reception.
Fashion note 4:
With my dress sense I have a real nerve commenting on men's style so have kept silent about the women but i) top straps of a shoe worn above the ankle should not be an inch and a half thick; ii) platform shoes do not work with formal attire and this goes twice for platform espadrilles; iii) you need to be a very specific shape to wear 4 inch high stilettos. Only one was and even she will not be able to walk at all in 5 years unless she stops now. Actually in her case they were fine.
Final fashion note:
The brim on the straw hat was not wide enough. I now have a bright red sunburnt nose. I'm thinking of dipping it in my very cold beer.