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The cactus, “raketa” or “roy”, a thorny southern plant that gave its name to the Androy, was one of the instruments used by the French pacification forces to defeat the insurrection from 1896 to 1903.
According to Raymond Decary in 1929 (The destruction of cactus by a cochineal in Madagascar: its economic and social consequences), this plant is used in more than one capacity in the Androy region. The population uses it as a hedge of protection of its possessions (huts, herds) since it builds its habitat in the midst of thorny forests.
It is also used in feeding livestock. Burned, its leaves complete the herbs of the pasture, rare in these areas of drought. Green, they preserve the water to water the oxen very numerous and which make the wealth of the population. Raymond Decary also points out that even she feeds on the fruits of the cactus between August and February. Because of insufficient rainfall, food crops do not produce during this period.
Because of this important place played by the cactus in the life of the population, the first action of the French forces of pacification in the Androy is to destroy this thorny to defeat the nationalist struggle.
Yet, according to Jeanne Rasoanasy (Menalamba sy Tanindrazana), the French do not
Still have neither products nor a cochineal that can destroy the “raketa” as they do in 1925. They simply oblige their prisoners to cut thorny forests. Thus, they can easily access all the villages and hamlets in which, according to them, hide the insurgents, while putting the population in difficulty in its search for food in times of lean.
In 1899, the French troops penetrated to the south of Ambovombe, where the Sevohitse and the Maroalaka reside. From there, they intend to destroy the struggle throughout the Androy where the Menalamba will soon constitute an army led by Tsiseza and Titsy. Faced with the invasion of the pacifiers, Titsy pretended to bow. But in the meantime, he regroups men to chase the Vazaha. Tsiseza joined him with his army and settled along the shore
Western region of Manombo. Titsy, for his part, is stationed on the other side. Soon their actions bear fruit and the Analavondrobe come to reinforce them.
At first, peacekeepers preferred to ignore them to concentrate on building a garrison at Ambovombe. It is enough to encourage the Menalamba to dislodge them and several clashes between the two armies. At the same time, in spite of their incessant raids, the French are not able to seize the resistant Antandroy well carpet in their area that they know better than anyone else.
May 1901 will see the most virulent battle between Menalamba and French near Ambovombe. Titsy led 1,500 men to carry out the assault on the French garrison. But they must withdraw, the weapons in presence being unbalanced: guns and sagaies against cannons.
This does not discourage Titsy and his men whose ranks are fleshed out by the population of Ezila and Imokola in the northwest. In September, Titsy announced to the garrison chief that his followers and he refused to obey the whites’ orders, pay taxes, and make friends with them as long as they occupied the Androy. From that date, he harassed the luggage carriers of the French, military and civilian, and attacked the villages that would support them.
Another battling battle is between Menalamba and the French peacekeepers in Ambondro, but they can not defeat the nationalists despite their strike force.
Unfortunately, indiscretions allow the Vazaha to seize most of the Menalamba chiefs of the region. These arrests somewhat cool the resisters’ ardor. Moreover, the French impose a heavy tax on the possession of firearms and offer an alternative: pay or surrender. But the men of the South do not accept this defeat. The fight resumed in 1902 and spread. In 1903, it reached the region of Farafangana. The Antefasy, Antesaka, Antanosy, Tanala and Bara join the Antandroy and the battles are bloody, the Menalamba being ready to fight “until the final victory”. But their struggle was completely annihilated in 1906.