Select Page

Madagascar News Forums Food for thought the domination of the Merina oligarchy Reply To: the domination of the Merina oligarchy


Given the difficulties facing King Tsimiaro, historian Micheline Rasoamiaramanana wonders what attitude, what policy Tsimiharo will adopt (International Colloquium of History from 27 July to 1 August 1987 in Antsiranana). Because he considers the presence of the merina conquerors in the land of Ankara as a violation of the soil of the ancestors and an attack on his dignity as king, he always feeds and nourishes them “a deep hatred and a strong desire for vengeance” (Journey to the West Coast of Madagascar of 1842 and 1843, Guillain).
However, having only a few assets at the beginning, it needs opportunities to depart from a cautious attitude of conciliation dictated by circumstances. These are presented thanks to the Merina themselves, “whose vexations and arbitrary acts end up unanimously against them” (Micheline Rasoamiaramanana).
From 1835, Tsimiaro took advantage of a situation which temporarily puts a mute to internal dissensions to open hostilities, renewing the attempts already made by his father, Tsialana I, to drive out the invaders. He even succeeded in relocating a large part of the country under his authority, but soon came up against problems already known to his predecessor. “The lack of cohesion of the insurgent princes and the superiority of the Merina transformed his initiative into a rash act, and forced him to abandon the Grande Terre and its natural fort located in the caves of the karst massif known as Trou de Tsimiaro To the small archipelago of the Mitsio Islands with 5,000 of its faithful in 1840. “
He then made a double observation: on the one hand, the insufficiency of his means of action against the pressure of enemies determined to crush him, and on the other hand, the fragility of the agreements between the princes. This makes him understand the need to find other solutions to avoid falling into the same mistakes and experiencing the same failures as in the past. Drawing the lessons of experience, the King sees in the search for external support, the only possible outcome to the resolution of his immediate difficulties. Everything brings him closer to the Sultan of Zanzibar. “Apart from personal affinities, the similarity of political structures makes such a move logical. However, the failure of this rapprochement forced him to make openings to the governor of the island Bourbon. By the treaty of the 5th of March, 1841, he ceded all his territories, the country of Ankara and the islands which depended thereon, with the right for the Antankarana to be regarded as French subjects and to be treated as such. The surrender was also accompanied by a decision granting the King a monthly pension of 100 francs.
But what exactly does he expect from the French? An active aid to be able to return to the Great Earth, to re-establish its authority and to drive away the invaders. But his hope quickly became a disappointment because of the neutrality of the French army, in spite of his urgent request. Interpreting this neutrality as a deliberate violation of the agreement, Tsimiaro sends his brother Tsiambany to the governor of Mauritius early in 1843, making the surrender to England of the whole northern part of Madagascar, including Nosy Be, Island ceded to the French by the queen sakalava Tsiomeko, and claimed by the king as belonging to him.
“The refusal to oppose the proposal of the emissary of Tsimiharo, in spite of the urbanity shown towards him, is revealing of a fact which had hitherto escaped the King; The desire of a Western country not to engage in a case where another Western country already has the anticipation. The attitude of the king and the governor of Mauritius
Revealing also the fundamental divergence of conception between the society which privileges the oral and another which attaches value only to the writing, and which is ready to make reason listen to anyone who risks treating it lightly.
Thus, a treaty perceived at the moment of its signature as a plan of salvation will in reality lead to a new servitude.