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#369
Madagascar
Keymaster

There are names rendered famous by the struggles for equality or independence attached to them. Such is Jean Ralaimongo whose life, according to the historian Regis Rajemisa-Raolison, is a tissue of vicissitudes, making him “an energetic and educated man, but also violent and brutal.”
Originally from a village in Ikalamavony where he was born in 1884, he kept the oxen as a child, before being admitted among the forty first pupils of the Norman School of the French Protestant Mission (MPF) in 1899. He succeeded His Certificate of Aptitude for Teaching in 1902, became a teacher of the MPF in his native village (1902-1903), taught at the Norwegian School and then at the Official School of Fianarantsoa.
In 1910, he took a leave of absence to follow, as valet de chambre, a French friend in Metropolitan France where, in the end, he succeeded in obtaining his Elementary Certificate after five months. He returned to Madagascar in 1912, was assigned to the official school of Mahabibo (Mahajanga). He resigned in 1913 to become a lawyer’s clerk, then employed at the Maritime Messageries. The great war of 1914 broke out, Ralaimongo voluntarily flew away in 1916, embarked again for France where he was incorporated in the famous 12th Malagasy Battalion. Sergeant at the end of the war, he returned home in 1920.
That was when his political career began. In 1927, he founded Diego-Suarez
“Opinion”. Its aim is twofold: to carry out a violent press campaign in favor of democratic freedoms to grant the Malagasy and to denounce administrative abuses of all kinds.
His political activities paralleled those of Dussac, who joined him in 1928, and consisted of vigorous articles in several newspapers (L’Opinion,
“The Liberated”, “The Malagasy Nation” …). His actions are also marked by demonstrations and, above all, condemnations of all kinds which fall on him in succession: imprisonments, fines, banning of residence.
For some, Paul Dussac, colonist and journalist from Réunion in Nosy Be, was for ten years (1928-1937) the great leader of the movement of Ralaimongo. On May 9, 1929, he was about to give a lecture in Antananarivo in order to work public opinion in favor of the mass naturalization of the Malagasy. At the last moment, the meeting was forbidden to Malagasy non-French citizens and Dussac, renouncing the chat, organized with his friends a “manifesto”, the first of its kind in the island, in front of the residence of the governor-general in Ambohitsorohitra. Thrown into prison, he leaves it after a few months, but to start all over again “to mock certain abuses of power monstrous” that some administrators allow themselves.
For his part, Ralaimongo is inflicted with his friend doctor, Joseph Ravoahangy Andrianavalona, ​​five years of fixed residence in Port-Bergé. In May 1930, Dussac found before him Governor General Cayla ready to break the movement. And the condemnations rained on him at an accelerated rate until 1936 when the advent of the Popular Front in France allows him to organize open demonstrations and even strikes. He even founded a Malagasy section of the Communist Party.
But if the government seems to give it a little respite, “Dussac is not less of the colonialists’ attacks of all kinds even physical.” On October 31, 1936, he was molested at the gates of the capital with his friend Ravoahangy. The following year, he returned to France never to return.
While Dussac is affiliated with the Communist Party, Ravoahangy at the SFIO, Ralaimongo remains without party. In 1937, he was attacked at Mananjary by a group of fifteen individuals to whom he escaped only by barely. From that moment and after handing over his case to a French lawyer from Antananarivo, Ralaimongo withdrew from the political scene.
“If it is necessary to regret several excesses of this violent polemicist against all and all, he has the merit of demanding a little more justice for his compatriots at a time when the French Administration in Madagascar, and in almost all of them Its colonies, practiced a policy tending to assimilate colonization to a true imperialism. “
As for Ravoahangy, he continued to fight, becoming an elected member of the French National Assembly with a program of full independence of the country, then founding the Malagasy Democratic Renewal Movement which is rapidly gaining momentum and is Accused of having fomented the insurrection of 1947.