In 1998, the tranquility of the ten habitants of the small town of Ilakaka, in the South of Madagascar was completely upset when a farmer discovered that the ground contained a big quantity of sapphire.
Immediately, the rumour was propagated in the rest of the big island. In some days, thousands men, woman and children settle down to dig this capable ground, as it is said, to bring the fortune with some grams of this vato mena (pink stone).
Today Ilakaka became a « mushroom town » made by wooden sheds (the richest build houses hard) arranged disorderly around the national 7. According to the local authorities, we estimate at 20 000 the resident number of persons to Ilakaka, but this figure is uncertain, so much the comings and goings are ceaseless between those who wore for such a long time out to look for the invaluable stone and who decide finally to leave, and those who come to tempt the adventure.
Ilakaka is an unhealthy city and knew several epidemics of cholera. The fever of the sapphire having made certain very rich, the city also has to face numerous problems of violence, murders, whereas of young ladies sell their body in some night bars, facilitating the distribution of MST as syphilis or AIDS. Humanitarian missions of sensitization, as that led by Medecins Du Monde in 2006, reduce little by little this problem.
For some years Thai, Sri Lankan, European and American come to settle down too. They know well this type of business and know that the international market is interested by the sapphire of Ilakaka about which people says that its quality has no equivalent in the world.
Certain geologists consider that it is one of the biggest deposits of the world and that we can exploit it still for the next fifty years.
This story has been awarded by Leica 35mm Wide Angle Contest in 2010.