Triptych: Five horses and two birds

Five horses and two chickens

Say what? You don’t see five horses and two birds?

Let me explain.

Firstly, two horses. The Citroën 2CV (deux chevaux-vapeur,  which translates literally to “two steam horses”) is the most common taxi here in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. These low-cost, low-maintenance French cars, which were manufactured since 1948, are still going strong on the island – even if one can see through the rusted floors of some of the older taxis. Being such icons, the cars are also reproduced for tourists, like these models which I saw and photographed in the inner city.

Secondly, Three Horses Beer, or simply THB. This Malagasy lager has been brewed by Star Breweries since 1958 in Antsirabe (and later also in Antsiranana). The three horses logo was apparently a copy of a Dutch beer brand, and was chosen because of Antsirabe’s history of horse breeding. It is the most popular beer on the island; some might even say a national symbol.

And thirdly, the two birds: something one sees every day while driving down the main road to town in the numerous little meat shops. One would most commonly see a couple of chickens, like those in the photo, hanging alongside hunks of meat and strings of sausage, all covered in the ever-present swarms of flies. These are pretty fat fowls, unlike typical Malagasy chickens, which are long, scrawny, and produce hardly any meat.

Voila. Five horses and two birds, all in one simple triptych.



  1. Nice capture. It’s a shame that most of these 2CVs – the real ones – have disappeared. They are like endangered species. Your picture brought back fond memories as a Citroen mechanic specializing in 2CVs. I also owned a 1960 2CV Truckette.

    • Well, you should definitely get down to Madagascar where there are hundreds, or possibly even thousands, of the (real) 2CVs still on the road.

      • I’m pleased to hear that 2CVs are well and active in Madagascar. My wife and I are considering a trip to the Australian area in a couple of years and a stop in Madagascar would be a nice addition. Thanks.

  2. Cool pictures!!! It´s so funny, because one of those toy-2CVs is now standing on a shelf right in front of me – made out of a THB-can straight from Tana 😉

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