Windows on the World of SipaKV

Borobudur – Phantom Voyagers

Posted on: November 18, 2005

An expedition, the Borobudur expedition, attempted in 2003-2004 to “make a journey that will recreate the ancient trading voyages between the two regions and demonstrate that this was the most likely vessel to have been responsible for spreading Indonesian influence and trade to Madagascar and the African mainland. “

This book, Phantom Voyagers, attempts to solve the mystery of our forebearers, the Indonesian mariners who sailed across the Indian Ocean to populate Madagascar. Who were they, where did they come from, and why did they leave their country for faraway Madagascar (and Africa)?

“… came to Africa and Madagascar in ancient times, long before Europeans knew anything of Africa beyond the Sahara, and long before Arabs and Shirazis sailed down the coast in their dhows to found exotic cities such as Kilwa, Lamu and Zanzibar.

We don’t know with certainty who these Indonesians were, where they came from, or even why they came. But though they left no records, their legacy on the mainland of Africa is far greater than is generally recognised. For beneath the surface of the Africa we know today, the footprints and fingerprints of those phantom voyagers are legion.”

The author is Robert Dick-Read and he argues that our forebearers were not full-blooded Indonesians at all, but Afro-Indonesians that had already stayed for a long time on the mainland. Nothing really new there, you may tell me.
But wait, the author investigates many similarities between Zimbabwe and Madagascar (among others the “tromba” that is also found among the Shonas of Zimbabwe), and finds many Malay fingerprints in African civilisations, not to mention that they brought native Malay food in Africa : banana, yam, coconut…

I’m not sure our ancestors revealed to be Afro-Indonesian will be of the taste of my Malagasy fellows who pride themselves of not being Africans, but it is another author’s theory, so we can read it and ponder on it.

The author sees traces of Indonesians even in West Africa, mainly during the introduction of the bronze technology in the famed Benin kingdoms !

He remarks that “The “discovery” of Madagascar, like the “discovery” of the Pacific islands, went unchronicled, yet both rank as extraordinary human achievements.

There is a website where you can learn more :

I will soon post about the modern day reproduction of the mythic transoceanic voyages.


1 Response to "Borobudur – Phantom Voyagers"

“Rahoviana vao ho hitako ianao, ilay manao dance;
Na tratrako manao théatre hariva amin’ny Alliance;
Kizintina ery raha miasa maraina fa manao stage;
Fa hipetraka lava ao anaty biraon’ny Borobudor Voyage e”
… sa moa Bourdon voyages? Ilay jeans no d’or kah.

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