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As we have already written, slavery was an institution in the Big Island. “Modernism”, introduced from the reign of Radama Ier, has no control over the uses and customs. The slave market in Antaninarenina Anjoma and Annex Analakely are very busy. It is in vain that the missionaries preach in the pulpit, exhort, threaten. “The people turned a deaf ear when it does not engage in tumultuous protests” (Journal of Madagascar, Antananarivo Special, 1952). The kind that sounded in the temple Ampamarinana at an anti-slavery sermons Rev. Standing in 1892.
Yet the codes published by the Royal Government formally condemn trafficking and implicitly slavery. However, in 1896, Alfred Grandidider says that two-thirds of the population tananarivienne, 50 000 to 60 000 people are slaves. And in 1895, more than half of the inhabitants of Imerina is servile.
Until the end of the reign of Andrianampoinimerina in 1810, the only foreign trade of the island, comes down to the slave trade. It is this human trafficking that the sovereign, the nobles and merchants Hova derive their foreign exchange resources, valued in silver dollars.
Apart from the box or domestic slaves exportable mass is mostly made of prisoners of war, common criminals or political offenders. All means are good to get them. Thus expeditions are conducted against the enemies or rebellious villages at the end of which the people in working order is routed to the coast, linked to each other. Prisoners who can not, the infirm, the women who lost their charms, the flickering children are often left on their own if not killed mercilessly.
“The frequent and numerous negotiations carried each year several thousand individuals, subject to the payment of a fee of two dollars and a half a head in favor of the royal treasury. The prosperity of the old Antananarivo was, therefore, sealed in blood and tears. This lasted until the livestock export has supplanted that of man. “The slave trade was condemned in 1814 by the Congress of Vienna.
For Radama Ier ask the abolition of the trade as- a result of Lesage and Chardenoux- James Hastie, become for the sake of the cause consular officer of the Government of Mauritius, has the King on July 17 1817.
“Not to be reported to the European princes as enemy of civilization”, the Merina ruler agrees to remove the “export” of slaves, October 11, 1820. He received in return for benefits in kind in the form of European products and species (equivalent). In addition, 20 young people from the son of the Great receive instruction and technical training in London or Port Louis.
At Radama premature death in 1828, his wife Ranavalona I inherited power. Under pressure from conservatives of the Court, soothsayers and sorcerers concerned about the progress of civilization and Christianity, it shall, after his first years of reign, “a hostile attitude to the Europeans and their innovations. It seems to him that their frequentation and their contributions make him his subjects disloyal.
First, to break with the decisions of her late husband-it deems “incompatible with the respect due to the good traditions” – it tolerates and even promotes the slave trade. Milking starts over again thanks to opportunities in the markets of India, America and the Mascarene Islands (Réunion, Mauritius, Rodriguez). “If markets are generally held on the coasts, Antananarivo is not less a transit center and a place where the administrative authorizations to negotiate. Ch. Robequain wrote in 1949: “The Rova appears as a nest of raptors of great slave traders in the service of culture and the sugar industry. “
This trade will be suppressed at the time of the French conquest. One of the first decisions of Joseph Gallieni is to abolish slavery. “The Merina monarchy would not have been easily removed she was by Gallieni, if it had been completely undermined and eroded by the double cancer drudgery and slavery. For most inhabitants of Antananarivo, the French conquest was really liberating.