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Located in the northeast of the island, Vohémar serves as a hub for the waves of Muslim immigration to the South and Central of the country.
The city originates in the districts of Androronana and Antsorolava, at the foot of the buttress which limits the plain to the south. The northern part of the city, covered with dara bushes with edible fruit, is then called Andranovaka. Later, the extension of the city towards the plain led to the discovery of necropolis with funerary furniture, including in particular Chinese and Islamic pottery “(Pierre Vérin) which must be” those of “mpihavy” known as Rasikajy (Clovis Ralaivola).
Always according to Professor Pierre Vérin, no piece found before the fifteenth century.
“Antalaotra, the former inhabitants of the North-West trading posts, and of Rasikajy, are usually referred to as those of Vohemar. The latter are Islamized “since they were found lying face to the East, their eyes turned to the North in anticipation of the blow of the trumpet of the last judgment”. However, their remains are accompanied by precious objects, jewelry, pottery, utensils, weapons, “a Madagascan custom very different from the norms of burial authentically Muslim”.
Professor Vérin thus concludes that the Rasikajy de Vohémar mixed with the inhabitants of the North and many of their descendants “are among the current Anjoaty”, while others have emigrated to the South.
No explanation is given, however, as to the origin of the name. For Clovis Ralaivola, this word can correspond to the dialectal phrase “tsy kazo” (indefatigable). “This version is all the more probable because the art of cutting utensils in chloristoschists required a great deal of patience, care and repetition, especially at a time when tools were still rudimentary. The chloristoschist is known to Vohémar as the rock of Rasikajy (vaton-dRasikajy).
Later, another contingent of Islamic immigrants who settled in Vohémar, are called “Anjoaty”, which is said to mean overseas (andafy). According to a natural leader of this ethnic group, his ancestors are survivors of an island called Mijoa in Arabia, and devastated by the storm. Six men and two women, led by a chief, then board a makeshift craft, pass through Mijomby (Red Sea) and land at Ampasindava in Ambilo-be, north-west of Madagascar, in antankarana country.
The king of this territory assigns them the region of Bobaomby, to the Cape of Amber, to the extreme North to settle. But only their chief Fasinarivo fixed himself there. His compatriots continued their journey, four men and the two women disembarked at Vohémar. They are engaged in fishing and the extraction of coconut oil to survive. The last two continue south to Matitanana (Manakara). “They form the ancestors of the Antemoro. “
Another descendant of Anjoaty points out that his ancestors arrived at Vohémar when Rangita, queen vazimba, ruled the Imerina, that is to say towards the beginning of the sixteenth century. He added that, during their journey along the west coast, towards Vohémar, some of them stopped at Besalampy and Ambato-Boeny. The others, more numerous, are established in the Northeast. This explains “that his co-religionists from other regions come from time to time on a pilgrimage to Ambavan’Iharana which conceals the necropolis of Anjoaty”.
Until the end of the last century, they respected certain customs which were peculiar to them. Such as the burial in the sand of the beach, the obligation of a lactating woman to bathe in the sea within twenty-four hours of her birth, and in remembrance of one of their ancestors the prohibition of men Graying hair to eat chicken.
Some authors also speak of Onjatsy to designate the Anjoaty. In 1648, Flacourt writes that the Onjatsy is a white fisherman, descendant of the Zafiraminia. Later, Grandidier confirms “that the Onjatsy of the Southeast are the descendants of the Onjatsy of the North”.
As for Fernand Kasanga, Anakara literate of the antemoro people, he says “that the Onjatsy are white Arabs, fishermen from Hedzaz, a village on the shores of the Red Sea. They settled first in the north-west of Madagascar, then side by side to the north to settle in Iharana (Vohémar).