Several authors describe at different times the village or the Fort Merina de Mahajanga, situated on the Saribengo hill, with at the end another fort on the tip of Anorotsangana, with its flagpole (see previous note on presentation made By Jean Aimé Rakotoarisoa of the Malagasy Association of Archeology).
According to Samat in 1832, “on the same hill dominating 200 meters from the first fort, rises the main Fort overlooking the Mozangaia anchorage. In wartime, the Hovas alone are fighting, and Sakalava Arab soldiers are kept in this fort for fear that once they are out in the open they will not come to the enemy, or if it is To make them walk, they are only given the spear. The Hovas alone have rifles … “
The same author goes on to say: “The garrison of Mouzengaie has hardly more than 200 men. The number of the Hovas spread over the whole extent of the bay may amount to 1,000. They occupy six or eight posts there. There are 25, 100 and 200 men. The second fort is defended by several guns. According to Seid-Bouna, one of the chiefs of Bali Bay, the Fort owned 16 guns eight years ago. The Arab, who served as a pilot for the Victor, and who entered the fort on going to see the governor, says he counted 48. “
In 1869, Alfred Grandidier testified, after entering the fortress, to visit Governor Ramasy: “The fort merina is surrounded by a triple enclosure, sufficient to shelter it from a Sakalavian attack, but without Actual defensive value. He gives a description of it. The enclosure consists, first, of a ditch five meters wide and three meters deep, where a passage is reserved, which is closed by a door in bad condition, and which gives entrance to a median space a few yards wide; Secondly, a rampart three or four meters high, with here and there a few bastions armed with cannon without their carriages; A door guarded by sentinels gives access into the city composed “of huts or straw huts in motoky where lived 1500 () Merina”, the soldiers and their families. Tertio, of an enclosure of pointed posts in the middle of which rises the Lapa, the house of the governor, in stones and lime. Behind this Lapa is a high-roofed hut where are kept the “Jiny”, the relics of the ancient kings of Boeny. “They were, I am told, taken in Tongay, in the south-east of Tsiombikibo. The Merina honor them and keep them carefully as their palladium against the Sakalaves. “
In 1873, an Austrian naval officer, Von Jedina, also visited Governor Ramasy. “With the exception of its palace, built of stone, the houses at the Fort are built of wood; But all are of extraordinary elegance and cleanliness. The fortified works of the upper town of Majunga are not very formidable. A ditch a few feet deep surrounds the city. On the glacis, irregularly elevated, cast iron naval guns were laid here and there, which might be just as dangerous to the servants as to the enemy. Nevertheless, they are carefully preserved from the weather of the seasons by a roof of straw. “
In 1874, the Mullens missionary did not cast as expert a glance as his predecessor, the archaeologist pointed out, but noticed that the city hova “was defended by a number of old English naval guns of twelve and nine pounds.”
In 1883, during the first Franco-Hova war, the citadel underwent the first French attack. Humbert notes in 1895: “The western extremity of this natural rampart was defended by a circular fort of masonry, 45 meters in internal diameter and 5 meters in relief; The extremity is by a vast redoubt of similar shape measuring 100 meters after its largest diameter, provided with an infantry parapet and surrounded by a deep ditch. The two structures were connected by a line of entrenchments arranged so as to provide plunging lights on the town and the beach. The Hovas maintained a garrison of 2,000 men at Majunga, but their artillery was of no value and was incapable of retaliating against the cannon of the French navy. “
The interior of Fort Hova will suffer great damage during this French attack. Projectiles light a violent fire in the main fort and in the huts serving as a shelter for the garrison.
Occupying Mahajanga, but still under the continual threat of the Merina which retreat to Ambohitrombikely, the French are endeavoring to strengthen the defenses of the Rova. In July 1883, on the proposal of Captain Brun of the naval artillery, the defense of the city was finally stopped: the blockhouse system had to be abandoned and replaced by an enclosure which would include “flanking parts” traced in such a way as to beat All the approaches of the palanques, and a walkway arranged behind the enclosure.
Mahajanga was not included among the territories ceded to the French in the vague treaty of protectorate of 1885, the city is reoccupied by the Merina.