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


During the First World War, Great Britain experienced an almost universal calm. “Never was French order, security, or domination seriously questioned,” wrote Maurice Gontard in 1968. However, some local movements broke out. Extreme South is twice the theater of a certain agitation.
This country is a land of difficult access, formed of vast calcareous and crystalline plateaux, covered with a low bush with plants with thorns and spines. According to a report of the time,
“The natives have an expressive, energetic face, not without frankness; They lack neither common sense nor even finesse in their way of reasoning “. But the region is also a traditionally vendetta land.
“There is not a family that has no violence to reproach in the past with a neighboring group. It is also a land of customary stealing of oxen. “
As Decary said in 1921, “as soon as the father can enter his wife’s house after the birth of a male child, he takes the newborn child in his arms and, armed with a spear, dances Around the mother, saying to her son, “You will be strong if you are a thief; If you are a thief you will not lack anything. With such a mentality, flights can only be innumerable. Local administrative conditions favor these “natural” provisions. Very far from the central government, this country lies on the border of the provinces of Tolagnaro and Toliara. Chased by the authorities of one, the bands can easily pass into the other.
Early in 1915, reports reported to Governor General Hubert Garbit of bands on the Ampotoka side along the Menarandra River. Their members are made up of escapees from the prisons of the two provincial capitals, in particular four children from Toliara on September 14, 1914. They train some parents, arm themselves with old rifles restored by local blacksmiths and start their raids Early in 1915. On 25 January, a large theft of oxen was committed in the area. A patrol is sent there at the end of February, but it is stopped on 4 March by an untimely flood of the Menarandra. Subsequent reports give these early incidents an optimistic and calming account. The chief administrator of Toliara, Gerbinis, notes in July, “that they have been magnified and distorted by the native imagination, and present no gravity.”
In reply to this interpretation, the governor-general reports to Paris on July 6, 1915, that some prisoners “escaped for several years and grouped together constitute a band with the main aim of stealing oxen.” On August 24, he reassured the French government: “These acts of brigandage are of only local importance without affecting the general security of the Colony. Nevertheless, he rejected to the west the boundary of the province of Tolagnaro by the decree of September 14th, and henceforth the river Menarandra separated it from that of Toliara.
But the lack of military reaction by the administration aggravates the local situation. Neighboring bands merge and at the end of 1915, it is a real armed force that is formed in the Far-South. It is fortified in the den of Ambohitsy, “situated on a steep and wooded summit and with several lines of natural defenses consisting of rocks and spiny bush”. It accumulates water and food in its citadel, and houses dwellings where women and children come to live. “From this base, the band regulated the whole area in the confines of the provinces of Fort Dauphin and Tulear …” Yet the civil and military authorities of Tolagnaro do not agree on the reality of the danger. The latter say they are “pessimistic, of the noises that have come to them, it infers that a movement of rebellion is possible among the natives”. The former are
“Optimistic and believe that the people of the province have never dreamed of revolting.”
But at the end of December 1915, in Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa, ​​the “bomb” of the secret society Vy-Vato-Sakelika (Fer-Pierre-Ramification) exploded. “We see at once a relation between the bands which organize in the South and the action of the secret society. It is even feared that both will be connected with Germany and the subversive movements that then break out in Indochina! “