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The submission in 1897 of the inveterate and recognized leader of the Fahavalo (enemies, a word used by the French colonizers to call insurgents) from the north, the famous Rabezavana, is greeted with strong congratulations by the new masters of Madagascar.
A chronicler of the Bulletin of the Committee of Madagascar takes the opportunity to draw the portrait (right or wrong) of this great chief sakalava as he perceives it. According to him, Rabezavana was initially, under the royalty Merina, the leader of a band composed of Sakalava and defectors hova. He traveled the bush of Vonizongo to Mandri-tsara. “The annual expeditions which desolated this region were made under his orders or those of his lieutenants. “
The intelligent Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, to stop him in his raids, does not hesitate and appoints him governor of Antsatrana. Rabezavana is flexible and unbridled in these new functions. “He continued his former expeditions, but when his soldiers showed a little too much embarrassment and robbed the villages in his district, he went to war, limited the plunder, divided the fire, sent his retreats with a chosen booty . Then he wrote to Antananarivo: “I have driven out the Fahavalo! “
At the time of the campaign of 1895, Rabezavana attacked the last troops of the flying column at Sabotsy, taking on the left of the French convoy on the heights from Ankazobe. At the time of the surrender of the capital, he set sail with his troops. And since then, he “walks” from east to west, “as fast in his conceptions as in his movements, attacking one day at Vonizongo, jumping from there to the numerous encampments he had established in the forest, Encouraging the rebellion, writing letters to Antananarivo, some of which were read at the Rainandriamampandry trial, indefatigable and impregnable. “
On his own initiative, he took the rank of general officer of 15 honors. “He wrote to the queen, threatening to hang her if she did not support the revolt. At the same time, he addressed Prince Ramahatra: “Be with me and you will be king. According to the French chronicler, Prince Ramahatra reportedly handed the letter to the French authorities. On the other hand, Queen Ranavalona III keeps his own, “which Rainan-driamampandry had probably communicated to him, although he did not want to admit it until death.”
To bring Rabezavana’s submission after the departure of Colonel Combes-known for his brutal, violent, destructive, and without distinguishing his targets in his operations of pacification-an emissary is needed. Rainianjanoro is chosen. It is a Tsiarondahy, a man of confidence of Rasanjy who proposes it in this mission, former gold seeker in the Boeny and the North. Above all, he had a close relationship with Rabezavana. Immediately, he went to the latter’s camp, presented him with the French proposals to submit. After careful reflection, Rabezavana would have accepted on condition that the emissaries were held hostage. He first sent his father to submit to Captain Reymond.
Two days later, Rabezavana becomes prisoner after leaving Rainianjanoro in the hands of his troops in exchange for his life. Finally, having received guarantees, he calls his soldiers to join him.
“Immediately, our enemy of the previous day has set to work and alongside our troops, it completes pacifying the region. “
Thus the junction is made between Upper Betsiboka and Upper Mahajamba, between Ambatondrazaka and Moramanga, between Moramanga and Ambohimanga. For the French, the victory would be complete without the “last rebel”, Rainibetsimisaraka. He tries to provoke among the Tanala “a rebellion promptly repressed,” but the consequence of which is the assassination of a European merchant who traveled alone from Ambositra to Mananjary. But for the colonizers, it is already the end for him. “Moved now in the thick part of the forest, abandoned by his lieutenant Ramampanjaka who made his submission, he will be caught or will soon surrender. The defection of Rabezavana is going to do him a terrible blow: it is a matter of days. “