Antananarivo is home to an array of vintage picturehouses, yet none have shown a film in decades. Now they host a new breed of celebrity preacher, all just as keen to entertain – and to profit

It’s Sunday afternoon on Rue Dussac, a dusty cobbled street in downtown Antananarivo, and a relaxed crowd of young, elegantly dressed Malagasy women has gathered in the shade outside the Rex cinema. Among them is Kantou, 20, who has come with her mother to see today’s “show”: a service of the Evangelical Messenger of Awakening (MRE) church.

“I first started coming when I was 14. I was going through some serious emotional problems back then,” says Kantou. Her mother had stopped believing in God after her divorce. They heard about the MRE church through a friend and have been coming every Sunday since.

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