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When the “Teny Soa Hanalan’Andro” appeared in January 1866, it was only five years since Ranavalona I had died, four years that the existing printing works in Antananarivo were operating again after a silence of about twenty-five years.
Thus, according to Razoharinoro Randriamboavonjy, during this quarter of a century, the Malagasy have only the Bible to read and again, in secret and on copies taken from the eyes of the emissaries of the queen. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising if the “Teny Soa” is welcomed by the population.
It is a review of the London Missionary Society printed in Imarivolanitra by John Parrett. Initially bimonthly, it becomes monthly from 1869. “Teny Soa” is essentially a review of religious education and information, since its purpose is to deepen the knowledge of the Bible among its readers. Its columns also promote their general culture through literary, historical, scientific articles …
The publication of the “Teny Soa” will have to open the way to other titles published by the various missions present in Madagascar. Such as the “Resaka Malagasy” of the Catholics in 1874; The “Mpiaro” of the Anglicans in 1875, where one can appreciate the first translations in Malagasy of the French and English literature of the time; The “Mpanolo-tsaina” of the LMS in 1877; The “Mpamangy” of the Norwegian Mission in 1882; The “Sakaizan’ny Ankizy Madinika” later became the “Sakaizan’ny Tanora”, in 1884.
The aim of these various journals and periodicals was almost the same: they were periodicals of religious education and information and of general culture. In addition to these various religious missions, private individuals also began publishing their newspapers little by little.
Toamasina in particular, which has its printing company introduced by Lalané de la Couronne since 1879, is “an important center of journalism”. Two titles appear in 1881, “La Cloche” and “L’Opinion Publique”, and in 1891, the “Ministerial” and the “Courrier de Madagascar” in French and Malagasy.
In his turn, Antsiranana published in 1894 “Le Clairon” and “Future of Diego-Suarez”. Around the same period (1883-1885), in the capital the “Madagascar Times” of Tacchi and the “Madagascar News” of Harvey are published. Both follow an editorial line that defends the policy of the government of Rainilaiarivony. “Following these two newspapers in English, the resident general of France published the Progress of Imerina and Malagasy to counterbalance the opinions emitted by the English newspapers. “
Mention should also be made of the “Gazety Malagasy” published in 1875 under the inspiration of Dr. Davidson, the first to do medical education in Madagascar, Jukes with Street as editor. It is a political journal and social criticism with an almost revolutionary tendency for the time, “since it touches on the problems of polygamy and slavery”.
Rainilaiarivony does not pardon those articles which also denounced the abuses committed by certain “officials, dignitaries of the Court”. Moreover, the Gazette appeared only one year, until June 1876, despite its popularity (1,000 copies monthly).
Until 1901, Madagascar enjoyed total freedom of the press. But as of that date, the colonial government put an end to it. “Or, more exactly, it established two regimes of the press until 1938, where the freedom of press is restored for all. The decree of February 16, 1901, established the system of authorization to ask the Governor General for newspapers in the Malagasy language. This regime limits their freedom and they are forbidden to address political or administrative issues. And the authorization granted may be revocable.
As for the press in French, it continues to enjoy the freedom granted by the law of July 29, 1883. Thus, from 1896 to 1938, about forty titles are published by the French. As for the press of opinion, it is Jean Ralaimongo who inaugurates it. He founded
“Le Libéré” in 1923 while still in France after the First World War. He only takes a few numbers. Much more important is “The Opinion of Diego” which he created in 1927, upon his return to the country, with Dr. Ravoahangy Andrianavalona and Paul Dussac, socialist settler of Nosy Be. The “Malagasy Reveil” (1929) became the “Reveil de Madagascar”, to which Dussac and Razafy Abraham worked, and many other titles such as “Ny Rariny-Justice” (1936). It is in this last issue that Jules Ranaivo tries to pass political articles in Malagasy with the translation into French. The purpose of all these journals is the struggle for equal rights and against the various abuses of the administration (indigenous, labor service for community service, benefits …)