Select Page

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


The need for correspondence appears, it seems, in Madagascar as soon as the first “tribes” were formed. But it is difficult to trace the evolution of this communication
To the “mpiandry taratasy”, in other words the bearers of messages.
In any case, this system must acquire the form of an organized service only at the end of the struggles that precede the establishment of a single power in Imerina. At that time, the central power was in need of maintaining regular relations with its armies in the field, its deputies in the provinces and, perhaps, the representatives of the foreign powers fixed on the coast.
In 1790, Andrianampoinimerina sees in this institution an easy and sure way to reinforce the action of his government. Thus he placed under his direct authority the messengers of profession, somewhat scattered up to that time. His son, Radama I, under the same political preoccupations, created in 1810 a special body of royal messengers which he called “Tsiamandoamamy”. He distributed its strength in numerous relays in the directions of Toamasina, Maevatanana and Fianarantsoa.
These “Tsimandoa” are exempt from any other service or chore. They benefit from the fullest assistance from the authorities who offer them gifts and provide for all their needs. Proud of their mission and the prestige attached to it, they perform remarkably well in a country without communication channels. Thus, the Antananarivo route to Fianarantsoa (360 km) is covered in 65 hours, thanks to thirty relays.
This institution, conceived for a political purpose, is never made available to individuals by the Hova government. Later, in order to save their nationals from the inconveniences of a situation which the Merina Government intended to perpetuate, France and England instituted a periodical service of couriers between the coast and the capital. On the arrival of the European ships, the consulates of each of the two powers group the mail and entrust it to the porters who join Antananarivo.
After the treaty of December 17, 1885, the French administration made great efforts and obtained the favor of the population. In September 1888, a postal office was created at the General Residence. The offices of Mahajanga, Vatomandry, Andevoranto, Mahanoro, Mananjary, Fianarantsoa, ​​Maroantsetra and Vohémar are to be added to the offices already established in the former French possessions of Diego-Suarez, Nosy Be and Sainte-Marie. But for lack of technical agents, the service is then provided by French merchants or by representatives of the customs. As for the office of Toamasina, it is attached since 1882 to the office of Reunion.
From Diego-Suarez depart couriers serving Sakarama, the Amber Mountain, Vohémar and, by ships, the ports on the west coast. At that time, Antananarivo was connected seven times a month to Toamasina, once to Maevatanàna and Mahajanga, twice to Ambositra, Fianarantsoa and Mananjary, while Toamasina served Vatomandry, Mahanoro and Mananjary three times a month, twice Mahambo, Foulpointe and Fenoarivo. At the same time, these vessels ensured the re-dispatch to the other ports on the East Coast. Thus, the regularity and security of the French service are definitively established.
In 1892, the service of the mandates was created. The post thus assumed a considerable extension, it became “the influential and peaceful auxiliary of French penetration by promoting, with the association of interests, the exchange of ideas and products.” Especially since the results obtained are not compromised by the troubles of 1895, even if the operations slow down. During the pacification, the service resumed its development and gradually extended its activities, not only in the postal branch, but also to the telegraph, the telephone and finally the radio.