In recalling the death of the prince Ratefinanahary, Jean Valette takes the opportunity to make “an analysis and a criticism of the sources” which approach the subject. These, he says straightway, all mention “that he is assassinated or executed by Ranavalona I”. And if some authors content themselves with delivering this fact, others are more explicit and sometimes give long explanations about the execution of the prince.
Among these last sources, the archivist palaeograph quotes in chronological order, the “Journal” of Robert Lyall, the “History of Madagascar” of William Ellis, the “History of Madagascar” of Raombana, and the “Tantara ny Andriana eto Madagascar “by RP Callet. However, it dissociates Lyall source.
William Ellis is the first to have given a relationship to Ratefy’s murder and Jean Valette quotes it through Simon Ayache’s analysis. Ratefy and his wife Rabodosahondra (the sister of the late King Radama I) set off on their way from Tamatave to Antananarivo as soon as they heard of Radama’s death. Warned of the dangers that threatened them, they would have returned to the East Coast in the hope of embarking on Mauritius. “But they were unable to convince the captain of the departing English ship and they would have been forced to
Refuge in the forest. There, “the killers of Ranavalona would have joined them, executing successively Ratefy and Rabodosahondra”.
In his “History of Madagascar,” Ellis inserts a letter, dated 28 August 1808,
Written by the Prince to Charles Colville, Governor of Mauritius. In this letter he expresses some fears about his future fate, contemplates a possible stay outside Madagascar and renews the feelings of friendship and esteem which he brings to Great Britain.
According to Raombana who wrote his “History” in the 1850s, Ranavalona I would have first “murdered” Rabodosahondra before stopping Ratefy. After the execution of Rabodosahondra at Vohiboaza on the side of Brickaville, the emissaries of Ranavalona went to Toamasina, stopped Ratefy and brought them back to Imerina to Ambatomanga where he was then accused of “deserting his garrison at Tamatave and Win the Imerina in order to help the daughter of Radama (Raketaka) and her own son, Rakotobe, to seize the throne. “
Ratefy would have defended himself by re-establishing the truth: Far from having ever deserted at Tamatave, he had remained there to keep his majesty’s city, but officers and soldiers had snatched it from him, contrary to his will. Despite these denials, he was put to death in Ambatomanga.
Raombana adds that according to the testimony he receives from an Englishman, Reddington, Prince Ratefy could have escaped his fate. The Englishman would have informed him of the news received from Antananarivo-murderers of his son Rakotobe and the mother of the late king, Rambolamasoandro, sending officers to Toamasina. – but the prince would have retorted that he believes he had nothing to fear, for “he had always maintained friendly relations with Ranavalona and his family.”
Reddington also reports to Raombana that he writes a letter to the Governor of Mauritius “in order to bring a warship to search for Ratefy,” but the ship would have arrived too late.
The murder of the prince Ratefinananahary also attracts the attention of the informants of R.P. Callet. In his “Tantara”, the latter states that Ratefy went to Imerina of his own free will and that on the announcement of this news Ranavalona I sent two of his officers, Ravalontsalama and Andriampizeha, to meet him to keep him under guard In Ambatomanga. When the arrest was made, a meeting would have been held in Antananarivo to hear and try Ratefy. The latter would have explained his journey to meet the new queen.
“No order from the queen came to me and I decided on this trip after talking to two Europeans (Rev. Bennet and Griffiths whom he meets however in Ambatoharana and not in Toamasina). I come to Ranavalona because it is she who succeeds Radama. I helped Andrianampoinimerina and Radama during the unification of the Imerina. My father left his family to serve Andrianampoinimerina and as the kingdom now belongs to Ranavalona, I come to assure him of my allegiance and solicit his orders. If this is not the object of my displacement and I conspire against the queen, make me undergo the ordeal of the tanguin. “
On which the accusers would have replied that the fact of having left the post entrusted to him, falls under the law punishing the death penalty by fire deserters and that it must be applied to him. This law dates from the Kabary of Sahafa organized by Radama in 1820 and of which Ratefy is one of the promoters.
The sentence is reported to the queen who replied: “I appreciate the services rendered by Ratefy, so I can not decide his death, but it is your oath that wants it. And Ratefy is running.
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