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Madagascar
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In a study made from documents dated between 1832 and 1882, a historian who is interested in Antakarana royalty, discusses the relations of King Tsimiaro with the Merina and the French. It was during the International Colloquium on History from 27 July to 1 August 1987 in Antsiranana that it produced the results of its study.
According to Micheline Rasoamiaramanana, King Tsimiaro succeeded his father Tsialana I in 1832, but the power he inherited, “is far from easy to assume.” Since the end of the seventeenth century, the region has been marked by political upheavals, invasions from the Sakalava country and intestine wars. The exercise of supreme authority, obtained by agreement or expulsion, can only engender persistent hatred and rivalry. “When one adds to these difficulties the fragmentation of the kingdom as a result of successive divisions, the problems of territorial jurisdiction resulting therefrom, and especially the invasion of the country by troops from elsewhere during the first half of the nineteenth century, The delicacy not to say the complexity of a task strewn with pitfalls. “
The eldest son of Tsialana, a grandson of Lamboeny, who was a contemporary of Benyowski, Tsimiaro, then thirty years old, belongs to the so-called Ambatoharanana antankarana royal branch. But he inherits a power that his father snatched from his uncle Boanahajy or Rabona in 1809, with the help of his cousin Andrianjalahy. His father also bequeathed to him a kingdom strongly weakened since the Merina eruption in 1823, and the obligation for the Tsialana king to recognize their sovereignty. “It was not, however, for want of trying to repress the invaders and tried more than once to shake off their yoke.” He unfortunately had to rely on subjects which, according to Guillain, were ready to “abandon him at the least Reversals and the impotence, even the inertia of his peers and allies “(Journey to the West Coast of Madagascar of 1842 and 1843).
Faced with this unlikely situation, the king had certain assets at the time of his accession. As it is the symbol and the guarantor of continuity, the Ampanjakabe (great king) Tsimiaro benefits from a prejudice favorable to the majority of Antankarana. “He also possesses qualities of intelligence, energy and bravery which do not make any hope of returning to the old order of things vain. “. If he knows how to use them “to revive the courage of the most hesitant and rally the adversaries.”
Merina conquerors certainly inspire fear, but “this does not mask their weaknesses due to their limited number, their isolation in garrisons distant several hundred kilometers from their starting base, the lack of real support in Awaiting the aid sent by the other garrisons, or by the central government of Antananarivo. ” On the other hand, the Antankarana have the advantage of the terrain, because their country makes mountains and caves, offers many natural shelters. “Which can possibly facilitate the clashes and the war of attrition. “
In order to take advantage of these advantages, the king must thus succeed in reducing internal dissensions in order to be able to oppose a concerted resistance to the strength and cohesion of the invaders. Determined to realize the unification of the country under their own leadership, and to fight against any inclination to resist, the latter have also, since the opening of their kingdom to the West, also a trained army trained in Shooting, obedience and tactical elements. In front of them, the Antankarana still have to resort to the general mobilization of able-bodied men in case of conflict, that is to say to “a crowd little organized and badly armed”.
Certainly, the presence of several Islamic centuries of Sa’ahilis culture on the northern coasts of Madagascar and along the eastern coast of Africa eventually created affinities and weaving ties with the royal family antankarana. “But the more mercantile and warlike activities of these Islamized people, limit their role to that of advisers and their support to support Especially moral. Finally, the designation by the Merina of Prince Bemazava Tsimandroho to command the population gathered around the garrison of Hiarana (Vohimaro) can not Failure to pose a problem of authority. By granting precedence to one prince over another for services rendered, the Merina inaugurated a policy of domination which proved its worth, since their intervention contributed to complicate the relations between the different princes, and especially to strengthen their domination.