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Madagascar
Keymaster

When Queen Ranavalona turned her back after thirty-two years of rule and her son, Prince Rakoto, succeeded her, the Europeans came back and this time en masse. For the laity will join the missionary instructors. The development and progress of the capital will depend on the influx of skilled architects, engineers and workers that Europe will send. This movement will accelerate over the years.
The arrival in Antananarivo where they will reside of a certain number of foreign consuls accredited to Radama II and his successors “confirmed the fact that the Imerina, already attained a certain degree of civilization, was going to continue its development” (Revue Of Madagascar, Tananarive Special, 1952). Yet the missionaries, the first earners, are also the first to get back to work. It is therefore in the field of architecture and, in particular, in the construction of places of worship that the greatest progress will be achieved. The funds for these buildings come from abroad and the models used are the result of plans for temples, churches and cathedrals in Europe.
Thus, Rev. Ellis, on the plans of the architect James Sibree and thanks to the proceeds of the English collections, raised the four temples, the “Memorial Churches” commemorating the Christian martyrs. That of Ambatonakanga, whose first stone was laid on January 19, 1864, that of Ambohipotsy solemnly inaugurated on November 17, 1868, by Ranavalona II and Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, that of Ampamarinana above the sinister wall and completed in 1870 , And the small temple of the Rova begun in July 1869. Andohalo saw the Catholic cathedral Immaculate Conception rise from 1873 to 1878, and shortly after, the Anglican Cathedral of St. Lawrence (13 September 1883).
These constructions, the first, are so many workshops-schools for the workers of Antananarivo. Sibree wrote on the subject: “I did not know the language, the people and the way it works. It was difficult to obtain precise information on the best means of obtaining wood, lime, tiles, etc., but the greatest obstacle lay in the very limited number of workers whose services it was worth to purchase and , Even more so, in the impossibility of keeping them long. Masonry was not an absolutely new thing for the Malagasy (there were at least a hundred or so masons
Instructed by Jean Laborde at Mantasoa and Antananarivo). But the largest building requiring scientific and careful work was something unusual and, in the case of the majority of the workers, it was necessary to begin with the abc of the ” Art and teach them first how to carve the stone so that it presented a smooth side and that it had the shape of a perfect square. The use of the level, the plumb line and the rope was a mystery that even the most intelligent ones took slowly … “
The inexperience of the workforce, however, corresponds to a very great skill, “which employed itself admirably in wasting work by means of faulty workmanship and by resorting to all the tricks of the trade.” The architects complain that the same things must be repeated a hundred times over. Moreover, the Europeans must pay for themselves: the women of the masons prevent their husbands from climbing on the scaffolding of the steeples under construction. And it was thus that Brother Laborde, one of the workers of the Catholic Mission, working alone,
Finds death during the execution of the works of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
But over time, the workers gained in technical skill and this explains why the residence of the representative of France, built in 1891-1892 by the French architect Jully “is the best finished of all the buildings Sees Antananarivo in the last century “. Similarly, two missionaries, Cameron and Pool, contributed to endow the capital with a large number of comfortable houses built between 1868 and 1880. The aspect of Antananarivo was transformed. It is Cameron who gives the plan of the six-room house built in Faravohitra by the missionary Pearse, a model which has since been reproduced in hundreds if not thousands of houses and is still one of the most common types of housing towards half of the XXth century. The four-room type house, brick columns on the front and veranda, classic in Antananarivo, is only its model.
“These houses are a great step forward compared to those that once existed. The capital of perishable reeds and woods had become stones and durable bricks. “