Select Page

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


Prince Ratefy is ready to defend the rights of his son to the throne of Imerina and it is in this sense that he ascends to Antananarivo at the announcement of the death of Radama I. But the announcement in Ambatoharana of the death of his son, upsets everything. There is no longer any question of him making a king (read previous Notes).
“Yet this death should have been a reason for him to go to Antananarivo to demand accountability and to try to re-establish a situation that could not but be prejudicial to himself and his family in the broad sense” (Jean Valette, Archivist palaeograph). But it is not his attitude, quite the contrary.
First, he acknowledges the authority of Ranavalona I lending him the oath of allegiance to Rainingitabe and seeking to defend himself against the charge of having left his post without authorization. In fact, “he contradicts, if not nullifies, his oath of allegiance by initiating an English plot, and it is clear that he is afraid, that he renounce all struggle, and that he abandons himself with fatalism to his fate.” A fate he knows, from Ambatoharana, that he will be tragic.
To explain this passive attitude, Jean Valette dismisses several points. The first is
The absence of news of Antananarivo and therefore the ignorance of the events that take place there. In Ambatoharana, when he meets Rainingitabe, he learns that Ranavalona I is sending troops to the East Coast, and that he can assume that they are chosen according to their loyalty to the new sovereign. This armed expedition also implies that the queen is in control of the situation in Imerina, since she does not hesitate to distract some of her forces to ensure the fidelity of the provinces. “These two sets of news learned in Ambatoharana were enough to influence the decisions taken by Ratefy and to modify his first determination. “
However, the new queen leaves a doubt on at least one point: the fate reserved for the governors of the coastal provinces, especially Rafaralahy, Robin and Ratefy. Verchère-Raffy confirms that the first two are left for a month without receiving any positive news about their maintenance or not. Robin is even the subject of contradictory letters. This uncertainty may explain their laxness, especially since they are not directly involved in the immediate consequences of succession. What is not the case with Ratefy: the assassination of his son can allow him to predict his own fate and should encourage him to get along with his colleagues. “Ranavalona I seems to have played in such a way that this danger is removed. “

The second point raised to explain his attitude is the weakness of the means at his disposal. The military forces on which he could rely are ridiculous: 200 soldiers who remained in Toamasina who could not oppose the much larger contingent commanded by Rainingitabe and which could be strengthened if necessary.
Jean Valette, however, has other considerations. Ratefy is a great character at the time of Radama’s death. Besides the fact that he is the father of the presumptive heir and the husband of the king’s sister, he has a personal position of importance. By its origins first, it is of royal ancestry. Certainly, his father rallied to Andrianampoinimerina and the monarchy recognized since then in Imamo is that of Antananarivo, but “Ratefy nonetheless remained a great feudatory, a great vassal, that is to say that Possesses many bonds which unite him to his ancient subjects, who are, in many cases, no doubt his vassals. “
Likewise, a great dignitary of the Court of Radama, he should build a whole series of links, even complicities, with many characters who gravitate around Radama. At last, general and happy general, placed by Radama at the head of many functions, he should have created friendships on which he could rely. Which is not the case. At no time does he seem to think that he can rely on faithful elements, and “curious thing”, he does not seem to have concerted with Rafaralahy, who is also Radama’s brother-in-law. Moreover, there is no popular uprising in Imamo, for example, or even a call for clemency or intervention in his favor at his trial, which could, in practice, bring the Queen to the forefront, save “.
Third and last point: the explanation of Ratefy’s attitude must be sought in its very nature. Verchère-Raffy depicts him as being endowed with great character, but he denies this judgment a few lines later: “He is very sorrowful and above all very uneasy … He fears to be sacrificed …”
As for Lyall, he brushes Ratefy into a “rather pessimistic moral portrait”: “… though Ratefy never appeared as a really energetic person …” This lack of energy, combined with other causes, explains his attitude of passivity. “He was certainly courageous in battle, he has often shown it, but he did not possess the grandeur of soul which really makes the leaders. He was overcome by his fate, he lost his life. “