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Like all peoples, ancient Malagasy engage in a kind of very special trade Trafficking. It involves swapping of slaves against goods made by traders who trade on the coasts of the country. We remember that there is a double current: slaves imported from Africa, but in smaller numbers, the Masombika or Makoa, and those exported.
Until the late eighteenth century, the slave only affects coastal areas, only in contact with foreign countries. In addition, the Merina country without access to the sea, could not participate without intermediaries, Malagasy and European. But it was not until 1777 that a European, the French Nicholas Mayeur penetrates Imerina and Antananarivo is reached in 1808 by Hugon.
Moreover, Merina should at this time have a large number of slaves, as the largest source of these “products” is the war on foreign soil. But before 1787 the Merina divided into several principalities fighting is between them, at random whims of their chieftains. These are some deadly struggles by small armies, leaving only a small booty.
“It would be even more accurate to say that it is the neighboring peoples Merina, Sakalava, Manendy, Sihanaka and Bezanozano who then indulged in successful raids in Merina country; raids where they brought, there is no doubt, many prisoners “(Jean Valette, architect palaeographer).
When Andrianampoinimerina arrives on the throne of Ambohimanga, it first pacify and unite Imerina. Then he turns to the south. After conquering desert-regions it enters Ankaratra and Faratsiho, and is then in contact with the Betsileo it reduces by fighting or dealing with them. These are struggles in enemy countries, which opponents such Raomanalina king of Lalangina, fiercely resisted.
These wars of conquest continues under his son and successor, Radama Ier. Upon his arrival, he must put down a revolt of Bezanozano Ambatomanga and lead a hard campaign against Ambositra which is completely shaved. All these wars bring an abundance of spoils, especially slaves, whose flow poses to Merina hitherto unknown problems.
This is the main reason prompting Radama Ier to undertake the conquest of the East to have access to the sea. This is necessary to trade freely and dispense intermediate Antalaotra and European. “This concept had to impose the spirit of the Merina king in the 1814-1815 years, something crucial for the development of its people, she met with the Malagasy political Sir Robert Farquhar then governor of Mauritius. “
With the Treaty of Paris of 1814, the Franco-British dispute in the Indian Ocean is set: France recovers Bourbon Island (Reunion), the Isle of France, renamed Mauritius and its dependencies Seychelles and Rodrigues , became a British possession. Madagascar is the object of desire of the two colonial empires.
Farquhar understands the need to attach the Merina king, whose power is growing. He sent many emissaries whose latest James Hastie is responsible for sealing the Anglo-Merina alliance by including an international scope clause (Treaty of Vienna): the abolition of the slave trade by encouraging Radama to use “his vanquished subjects To other more profitable activities “.
However, remove the slave is to suppress the essential bargaining chip against European products. And as Radama points out to Hastie, “it is not possible for him to make slaves who were his enemies work for him, hence the necessity of selling them.”
Finally, all this encounter violent opposition assemblies of elders, because the Merina in general, especially the latter, will forfeit real profits, and immediate. “It was also to engage in a kind of economic revolution, which we hardly saw the results. “Hence the equivalent in return, compensation awarded to Radama, both money and weapons and uniforms.