Madagascar History Part I

By | May 6, 2021

Early history

Data on the early historical settlement of Madagascar are imprecise and incomplete. Archaeological finds such as cut marks on fossil bones or the remains of human settlements are considered to have proven that the first humans around 300 BC. have set foot in Madagascar. According to the Malagasy legend, the Vazimba were the first settlers. To this day they are considered mysterious mythical creatures that play a role in traditional beliefs and were created through a mixture of Malayo-Polynesian and African Bantu peoples. From a scientific point of view, however, the first settlers appear in the wake of the Austronesian expansion from Southeast Asia to have come from Indonesia and Borneo to be precise. The Malagasy language, Malagasy, evidently developed from the Indonesian language Ma’anyan, which is spoken by the Dayak ethnic group on the Barito River in the southeast of Borneo. Crossing the Indian Ocean – probably in canoes – is considered to be one of the most remarkable migratory movements of mankind. Many cultural similarities speak for this settlement history. This includes peculiarities in the production of boats that are similar to the South Asian construction methods and, above all, the rice culture, which is grown in Madagascar on a large scale and, like in South Asia, also in terrace culture. However, at an early stage they also have Bantucolonized the Malagasy island from East Africa. This is proven by words such as Omby for cattle, which has its origins in African original languages. The culture of cattle breeding is similarly important in East Africa and indicates the adoption of pastoralism. Excavations have also been able to date the presence of Arabs in Madagascar to the 7th century; Arab settlements have been recorded on the northwest coast from 1000 AD. The Arabs operated the slave trade with slaves mostly from East Africa and brought Islam to Madagascar. However, this was changed here by the ancestor cult and traditional rites and beliefs. It is believed that kingdoms were established in Madagascar as early as the 15th century. But it was not until the 17th century that the kingdoms became stronger and increasingly separated from each other. The Sakalava, with their two rival kingdoms Menabe and Boina, formed well-managed dynasties on the west coast. But other kingdoms also emerged, such as that of the Manandriana in the highlands or the kingdom of the Betsimisaraka on the east coast, which benefited from the arrival of European ships and goods early on due to its favorable trade location.

First European

The first European to set foot on Madagascar in 1500 was the Portuguese Diego Diaz, who named the island St. Laurentius. The Dutchman Cornelis de Houtman also stopped his ship in Madagascar to get provisions for the route to India. But neither the Dutch nor the Portuguese were interested in a permanent base on the island. It was only the French who came to Madagascar in 1642 and the English who built a fort near Toliara in 1646. Many adventurers or explorers were already drawn to Madagascar’s natural wealth in the 17th century. Fort Dauphin, for example, was named after the French governor Etienne de Flacourt, who likeAlfred Grandidier explored flora and fauna, while Antoine Lacroix studied the island’s minerals. However, many Europeans did not survive long and died mainly from diseases such as malaria. According to commit4fitness, for a long time Madagascar was also of interest to pirates who observed the ship traffic to and from India. There are many legendary pirate stories, including the tradition of the pirate John Avery, who lived in the 17th century. Also in Madagascar, or a legendary people ‘s republic “Liberatatia” founded by pirates on the northern tip of the island, which is said to have had a liberal, socialist constitution and a democratically elected government.

Madagascar History 1

The Merina monarchy

Based in Highlands, rice cultivation be operated Merina people of Ambaniandro was since the 16th century existing important kingdom. In the 19th century, the Merina were able to expand their power in almost all of Madagascar through an imperialist and expansive policy on the one hand, but also through the consolidation of kingship due to a well-functioning social hierarchy. Her king with the unpronounceable name Andrianampoini-merinandraintsimitoviaminandriampanjaka, or Andrianampoinimerina for short, or even shorter Namoina gave himself a god-like status at the top of the hierarchy, had absolute power, but also communicated with his subjects. He is still venerated today for his saying “Ny ranomasina no valapariako” – “The sea is the border of my rice field”. The kingdom became economically successful, above all through rice cultivation, which the king gave top priority with his saying “Rice and I are one!” He fought and subjugated the other three Merina empires and made Antananarivo the capital of his empire, which he called Imerina. Under Namoina, but especially under his son Radama I.Madagascar opened up to the European colonial powers England and France, which both made claims to power on the island. Strongly impressed by Napoleon, Radama I skilfully used the Franco-British rivalries to his advantage after the Congress of Vienna (1815), betting on the British map. He also let missionaries rule. Radama I was against the slave trade, which made him popular with the Europeans, but met resistance from his subjects and the Howa, the Merian nobility, upset against them. Although the residents of the Merina Kingdom were already living in a self-sufficient economy at that time, Radama I. introduced selected European techniques in Madagascar. For example, he had bricklayers, carpenters, blacksmiths, tanners, weavers and silkworm breeders trained. His main merit, however, was the introduction of the Malagasy written language based on the Latin alphabet. In 1820 he opened the first school. With the help of the British, Radama I also wanted to obtain the title of rulership, which he succeeded only for a short time because he died under mysterious circumstances in 1828 – a year after he was recognized as King of Madagascar.