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


All that is done in Imerina under Radama I is the result of the personal action of the king. And the premature death of his adviser and friend James Hastie in Antananarivo in 1826, his own even in 1828 when he was only 36 years old, “changed the course of Madagascar’s history” (Revue de Madagascar, Special Antananarivo, 1952).
Indeed, this great king is given to put his country on the path of modernism. But if it welcomes the Europeans, it does not do so without interest, expecting from them profitable teachings, weapons to conquer, in short all the means of establishing its dominion and extending it to the sea, Faithful to his father’s goal: “The sea will be my limit. “
“If I bring up the foreign Vazaha here, it is because I want to create an army, to train soldiers who will defend my kingdom and who will be the protective horns of them …” This is how he explains to his subjects, The place of Andohalo, the entry of the foreigners in Imerina, which was forbidden under Andrianampoinimerina. “They will also teach us how to make beautiful and good things …”
The reign of Radama thus sees Antananarivo expanding considerably. The troop which formed the army of trade which the king organized – 12,000 to 15,000 men in 1828 – took his lodgings in the city and in the villages of the suburbs. When these soldiers go into the field, women, children and slaves remain in the huts. This forms a large population.
In addition, the armaments industry developed by the wars, brought a whole people of blacksmiths, gunsmiths and iron craftsmen who gathered in Amparibe, around the workshop of the Englishman Chick. The old city of Analamanga no longer able to contain the influx of the population, Radama bursts it by opening a breach in the ramparts, to the northeast, to Ambatovinaky (to the broken rock).
It is then that the suburb (today’s district) of Ambatonakanga (the stone with the guinea fowl) is built, where there was formerly only manioc fields, refuge frequented by these birds.
In this way and by its will, the extension of the city already takes this new
Orientation towards the West. This will be confirmed later by the choice made by the representative of France of a site to build his residence in Antaninarenina (the present Palais d’Ambohitsorohitra).
However, Radama also provides the advantage that there will be to settle in the plain. He did not just enlarge the Rova but decided to build a palace, the first of his dynasty, in Soanierana.
And for his personal convenience, he designed, at the foot of the promontory of Isotry, Lake Anosy, because the water surface seems the indispensable element of an Imperinian capital. The islet in the center will serve as a repository for ammunition and possibly a powder magazine.
To feed the 30,000 to 35,000 inhabitants of Antananarivo- the population figures will never be accurately known throughout the nineteenth century- 5,000 to 6,000 hectares in the Betsimitatatra plain are highlighted.
It is Radama again who has the canal of Ivanga de Radama dug. It is fed by the waters of Lake Mahazoarivo to the southeast. It flows towards Mahamasina, with Lake Anosy
Used as a reservoir (or weir).
At the same time, almost wholly acquainted with Western ideas and taste, he quickly abandoned the traditional lamba for the European costume. “He had the sought after style of our fashionables,” recounts in 1826 a witness, Leguével de Lacombe.
“In his imitation, his officers, honors, adopt the red coat of arms of the English army. They bring from Europe clocks, music boxes, upholstery, silverware … a lot of things in old Antananarivo. There is a lot of innovation, too much … no doubt! “