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For two centuries, Mount Analamanga (1,468m) has a singular attraction on the Merina and fierce struggles are delivered for its possession.
The first European who visited Antananarivo, the French Mayeur who arrived there in 1777, writes: “The Europeans who frequent the coasts of Madagascar will find it difficult to believe that in the center of the island, 30 leagues from the sea, In a country hitherto unknown surrounded by raw and savage tribes, there is more light, more industry, a more active police than on the coasts … No people of Madagascar has so much natural intelligence , Or as much fitness for work … “
Ninety years after the division of the kingdom into four by Andriamasinavalona, ​​Antananarivo will regain its unity and its leading role. Indeed, in 1787, the principality of Ambohimanga falls to the young prince Ramboasalama, “the vigorous dog”, which predictions announce like a great monarch. Knowing that he bears “the blessed blessing of his ancestors,” he undertakes to impose his authority in order to unify the Emyr.
“Andrianampoinimerina,” “the Lord in the heart of the Imerina”, undertakes the conquest of the ” city. Not having succeeded by the pacific means of marrying the daughter of the rival sovereign, he caused the city to be assaulted. But the warriors of Ambohimanga who enter it must evacuate it precipitously to escape the epidemic of small-pox that ravages it.
Antananarivo was taken only in 1794, on the third attempt. The success of the final assault would have led the king to pronounce these words of wise policy: “Pillage only chickens; The kingdom is mine and all Merina are my children. He also reconnects with the tradition of unity and greatness of the Merina kingdom bequeathed by the ancestor Andrianjaka to his successors. “The Rova is in the center of Antananarivo and Antananarivo is in the center of the Imerina; The Imerina must become the center of an immense kingdom that has no limit except the sea. “
“The restoration of the merina monarchy dates from the capture of Antananarivo, whose second
Foundation by Andrianampoinimerina marks the end of the internecine struggles with the restoration of the unity of the High Plates. All the clans are subdued and the fiefs annexed, the war is carried elsewhere until the peace is firmly seated.
Then this great king “illiterate but brilliant” repeats in his numerous kabary, his program that takes his people back to the earth and is summed up in fight against the famine. “The wars are over, the land is pacified … and besides, as long as there are men in my kingdom, I fear no living being … My only enemy is famine and the one who does not work , Pacts with the enemy and opens the doors of the country … “Or:” Plant rice and put a lot of manure; Plant cassava, potatoes, corn … The roots of cassava are the columns of my empire, they are my soldiers in the battle against the famine … “Otherwise:” If a man wants to change fields, it is a pretext To do nothing; All the fields of my kingdom are equal; The Merina are eggs that must not change from incubators … “
He institutes a very military organization of agriculture which strengthens its dominion:
He installed 1,000 soldiers from the main clans of the north (Ambohimanga, Ilafy, Ambohidrabiby) in the city, which he groups together under the name of the Voromahery (Falcons). Five surveillance stations of 100 men serve as advanced bastions to the city.
To satisfy the needs of a population increased by the influx of these settlers, the sovereign resumed the work of enhancement of the plain of Betsimitatatra neglected by the civil struggles. The big market on Friday, the Zoma (from the Arabic word Djemaa, assembly) is transported to the immediate vicinity of the city to benefit from royal security and immunities.