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Madagascar News Forums The Transformation of Antananarivo Reply To: The Transformation of Antananarivo


According to a census of the 1950s on a local population of 877,735 Merina, 410,830 leave the Highlands a percentage of nearly half; Among the Betsileo, 137,506 emigrated from an overall population of 515,880.
According to the chief administrative and not less scientific directors, Raymond Decary and Rémy Castel, “for these two tribes, the proven cause is the lure of the gain”. But there is another, perhaps more obscure, reason for the Merina: “We are obliged to observe a real lack of land for the latter, which is accompanied by the need to increase An area that has become too restricted. Because at that time, Imerina is the most densely populated ethnic territory. “By encompassing the Vakinankaratra and the Merina, a current density of 28 inhabitants / km² is achieved. “
In Imerina, it is considered established that all the rice fields are cultivated and have almost reached their maximum yield thanks to the use of manure, that the cultivation of dry land (cassava, potatoes, potatoes) occupies almost the same All the fertile plots, and that only the tanety of laterite remain uncultivated, either because they are
Or because they must be reserved for pasture. “If the entire merina population were united on its ethnic territory, its density would rise to 54 and the land would become clearly insufficient: the problem of the lack of land has been posed to the Merina without their knowledge. “
These migrations of the inhabitants of the Highlands are not recent. Starting in 1901, the
General Gallieni, after a tour through the island, was struck by the great number of emigrants who had descended from the Plateaux on the coast. Immediately, in a circular of November 21, he sent a detailed questionnaire on the subject to the heads of provinces. This note already summarizes the situation well enough at the beginning of this century.
“Before the French occupation, some Hova (and Betsileo) were already emigrating on the coasts; But, apart from the civil servants, only a few merchants left the central plateau for specific and short-term operations. The establishment of security, the opening of roads and the facilities of communication offered by coastal maritime services have resulted in the resumption, in another form, of this movement of emigration. The Hova and Betsileo which I saw at several points in the coastal regions (Analalava, Mahajanga, Marovoay, Toliara, Mananjary, Mahanoro, among others) seemed to me to have settled there, In their country of origin, at least with a view to a long stay. “
“This tendency of expansion of the two most numerous, the most laborious groups, and the most suitable for trading among the various tribes inhabiting the island, demands the greatest care in its manifestations, and, Consequences of which it is capable, deserves to be greatly assisted. We can find in it a valuable factor of economic development. “
For Gallieni, the Betsileo and especially the Hova can be very useful auxiliaries to
French merchants from coastal regions as intermediaries or subcontractors instead of Asians. Moreover, as farmers, their labor employed in the development of fertile soil would certainly produce a greater output than that which they obtained from the lands of Imerina and Betsileo. And their presence on the coasts, by creating a new element of transactions with the central regions, could finally become a stimulus for “more apathetic and more primitive” tribes.