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In 1896, rumors circulated that groups of malcontents gathered on the rock of Ikongo, picking up provisions and ammunition. Immediately, the chief administrator Besson de Fianarantsoa went there from 22 September to 1 October to enter into negotiations with the Tanala. Without success. The French then decide to resort to the force of arms.
The massif of Ikongo affects the form of a gigantic horseshoe whose concavity is turned towards the East. The length from north to south is about 6 km and the average width of the plateau is one kilometer. The upper plateau (1,050 m above sea level), which is very mameloned, is watered by three streams and numerous springs, which explains the 600 to 800 ha of fertile land suitable for various types of crops. “This circumstance deprives the assailant of the possibility of reducing the position by famine,” report the chief administrator of Fianarantsoa and Commander Cléret.
Several buttresses, accessed only by ramps of 45 ° to 50 °, serve as a base for this imposing massif, whose access is defended on all sides by steep rocks, with the exception however of the western part where A sort of “welding” that connects the Ikongo to the massif of Ambondrombe, the mountain of spirits. To the north, a sort of indentation from which cascades the stream of Ilavaohina is “a second weak point of the position”. “Everywhere else the massif is almost unaffordable. The Ikongo massif, which rightly deserved to be called the Tanala Acropolis is truly a formidable position. Inasmuch as, in vain, besieged by the Merina, the rock acquires a renown of inviolability, calculated to increase the faith and courage of its defenders.
From 5 to 9 October, very lively engagements took place in which the French
“Sensitive losses”. The decisive operation took place on 10 October.
“Besson knowing that the Tanala believe that Christians are on Sunday bound by their beliefs to an absolute rest, and counting on the laziness of the Tanala, the cold and fog of the morning,” the French arrive noiselessly until the last entrenchment And take it by surprise. The Tanala flee leaving everything.
Commandant Cléret chose a village on a hillock near Ilavaohina, where the 40 men (including 15 Europeans) were temporarily stationed for the post created on the Ikongo plateau. Foods abandoned by the “insurgents” represent a supply of five to six months for the garrison.
On the 14th of October, Dr. Besson went to Maromiandra, where King Ratsiandraofana, the governors, and the whole subdued population were assembled. It informs the Tanala of the charges that will be incurred annually: compulsory but paid fifty days for adults; Capitation tax consisting of 20 liters of inshell rice per adult, to be paid at the time of harvest; Tax of a large size beef per group of 50 male adult residents; Absolute obedience to the orders of the chiefs appointed by France and the responsibility of the latter; Division of the district into four districts (Ikongo, Sandrabe, Andriana, Manambondro); Establishment of schools as soon as possible; Handing over all firearms under penalty of the most severe punishments. A general amnesty is granted to the “rebels” of Ikongo, with the exception of the 16 most compromised leaders. For according to Dr. Besson, some Merina “pushed the Tanala to revolt”.
In the south, in the province of Toliara, a great number of chiefs of the Antanosy submit themselves and undertake to pay the annual tax. In the province of Tolagnaro, Major Brulard succeeded in establishing a line of communication between the chief town and Antananarivo by Toamasina and Fianarantsoa, ​​and the staking post.
To complete the whole, the English missionaries display a declaration in their religious buildings, in which one can read in substance: “Those who follow the instructions of missionaries must become good subjects and good citizens by becoming good Christians. La France. “.