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In the “Annals of Travel and Geographical Sciences,” from July to September 1829, one reads the translation of notes written in Antananarivo by the missionary of the London Missionary Society, G. Bennet. The text speaks of the death of King Radama I, Sunday, July 27, 1828. Death “which was hidden until the following Friday (August 1) to everybody, except to a dozen people who were in the palace “.
When the sad news spreads, it is then the general fear and consternation in the city that is literally cluttered with chiefs and people from several neighboring territories. There is also a large army of soldiers encamped around the city. It is also learned that two Tsimandoa, slaves of the sovereign, and their two chiefs, very close to him, are killed with spears for expressing the “royal vow” to make his daughter Raketaka and his nephew Rakotobe his successors to the throne . The purge begins.
Detachments of soldiers are placed around all the houses of the missionaries. But to relieve them of their fears, the chief military leaders and the officers assure them of their esteem and their disposition to protect them. “However, these demonstrations could not tranquillize the Europeans; For we heard every word whispered, or we learned by signs that the most estimable and well-educated persons had been assassinated. It was the reign of terror and suspicion. Nobody can leave the city until the queen gives her permission. “I remained as a prisoner until August 20, despite my urgent requests. For to the demands of the Rev. Bennet, she simply replied: “I am mistress of the day when you can leave Tananarive. “
Three days after the announcement of the death of Radama, on Monday, August 4, there is a great Kabary in Andohalo Square. This large-scale meeting brings together 25,000 to 30,000 people from the six sub-divisions of Imerina: Avaradrano, Vakinisisaony, Marovatana, Ambodirano, Vonizongo and Vakinankaratra. Two companies of soldiers very well dressed in English uniforms, armed and fully equipped, are ranked in line behind the judges. On a part of the higher ground are placed five small field pieces loaded and surrounded by artillerymen.
After the confirmation of the King’s death, the Grand Judge indicated that the latter had not left any son or appointed his successor, Princess Ramavo, his main wife, would succeed him. “For a time great murmurs of discontent were heard in the assembly in such a way that we feared the consequences; But tranquility is restored. “
It seems even that the leaders of the six territories reproach aloud Radama’s entourage for having neglected to warn them of the king’s illness and not to have called on the missionaries to give him medicine, as they have Already done once.
At the end of this Kabary, it is recalled that according to the custom of the country, in sign of mourning any inhabitant of the kingdom, whatever his age, must shave his hair or cut them to the head in the three The next days, otherwise he will be condemned to death; That no one should work except those who erect the grave and make the coffin; That no one should sleep in his bed, but on the ground during mourning; That no woman, whatever her rank, with the exception of the queen, can carry the lamba.
“The order to cut the hair caused great lament among men and women; For a beautiful black hair, plaited in a particular manner and with infinite work, was their delight and their pride. “