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From 26 September to 2 October 1965, an International Congress on African Historiography was held in Dar-ès-Salam. The initiative lies with the Government and the University of Tanzania, with the assistance of Unesco and the “African Presence”, with 4/5 of the expenditure being borne by the Government of Tanzania and the 5th by Unesco
The objective of the Congress is simple, to teach Africans the history of Africa. “The aim is first of all to rehabilitate the African and Malagasy personality. And this, by making pupils aware of their national personality, in order to cure them of the need to cling to a national personality foreign to theirs to be entitled to any comfort whatsoever. And the archivist-paleographer Razoharinoro said: “Of course we do not speak for the completely assimilated enough in the so-called category evolved. “In short, it is a question of teaching schoolchildren” to dare to be themselves, as they are, Africans or Malagasy, and to take pride in their identity in some way “.
The archivist tackles the principles that must inform the writing of this story and set the angle of interpretation of the historical facts.
Above all, the newly decolonized countries must seek, by means of their historiography, to free themselves completely from the colonial experience in what it has as a negative for the development of their personality, of mankind. “National historians must, in a first stage, rethink the historiography of their country elaborated by foreigners, and in a second stage confront their own point of view with that of foreign historians. “
Indeed, “an approach to the Malagasy or African historical realities is possible only with a deep understanding of the nature of Malagasy or African society”. An enterprise that can not be left to the more or less objective interpretation of foreigners. In fact, only the Malagasy people, for example, are in a position to “better understand, interpret and safeguard their own
history. It is especially for him to express what he was, what he is and what he wants to become. “
The historiography of Africa and Madagascar must aim at helping to strengthen the national consciousness, but the historian must not forget that the history of Africa and Madagascar is part of universal history. However, it is regrettable “the little place that the teaching of national history in the curriculum and currently applied” (after independence) still occupies today. So how can students become aware of their own national identity if most of the curriculum in history is about that of foreign nations?
Thus, the participants in the Congress also consider the adequate and sufficient material for the teaching of national history. Above all, the question of sources arises. In general, Africa has little in the way of written sources.
Undoubtedly, there are the travel relations of explorers, the African or Malagasy stories written by missionaries, the reports of the “pacifiers”. These are important sources which, unfortunately and naturally, often only reveal historical half-truths. “But they are not to be neglected. “
One of the main sources of African pre-colonial history comes from oral traditions. That is why the Congress of Dar-es-Salam draws the attention of African and Malagasy governments to the urgent need to collect and preserve these traditions “before their custodians die”, to provide funds to facilitate the collection, Preservation and publication of these traditions as well as to train local collectors of traditions.
The relations of the eyewitnesses of the colonial and pre-colonial period are also very important and constitute sources of first order, “in default of others”.
Finally, to encourage African and Malagasy historians, he recommends the creation of a
Special budget for the research they carry out and for the publication of historical works written by them. Moreover, in the field of research, the Congress “encourages the formation of historical societies” whose essential tasks are to promote historical research, to collect discoveries of interest to historiography and to disseminate them through reports annual. “These annual reports would help researchers and textbook editors coordinate their activities. “