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From various sources, often contradictory, on the death of the prince Ratefinanahary, Jean Valette tries to interpret the attitude of the governor of Toamasina.
According to the archivist paleographer, there is no doubt that Ratefy decides to go to Antananarivo as soon as he is informed of the death of Radama, about April 15, 1828. The letter that makes it, should be very brief and Only a few details. Nevertheless, she teaches him the accession to the throne of Ranavalona I and therefore the eviction of his son Rakotobe or the princess Raketaka, daughter of the late king. He is still unaware that his son is murdered and his first reaction would be to go to him to defend “his rights”
“It was therefore as a party leader that he left Toamasina, about 20 August, to go to Imerina and if he brought with him only 70 escort men, he could hope, Road to Antananarivo, rally to him supporters. “
However, between the news of the King’s death and his departure from Toamasina,
20 August – he orders mourning measures, especially by cutting the hair of the population and the troops. But he does not seem to have taken the oath of allegiance to Ranavalona that he only made on September 1, against Rainingitabe in Ambatoharana. Nor did he send a delegation to Antananarivo as a tribute.
After taking his wife Rabodosahondra with him to Vohiboazo, Ratefy arrives at Ambatoharana, between 26 and 28 August. It encounters two categories of travelers coming from Antananarivo, on one side, the Rev. Bennet and Griffiths, on the other, Rainingitabe. By communicating to him the news, especially the fate of his son, all modify his plans. The announcement of the murder of Rakotobe now renders useless any attempt to defend rights that no longer exist. In addition, “the success of Ranavalona Ii to strengthen itself on the throne it had conquered would have made any attempt in this direction dangerous” (Jean Valette).
In addition, Rainingitabe’s presence at the head of a strong troop shows that “the queen is taking measures to prevent any opposition from the relatives of Radama stationed on the East Coast.” That’s enough to depress Ratefy, who is suddenly afraid and decides to abandon a struggle that seems lost to him. He renounces to continue his journey and seeks his salvation in flight and in exile in Mauritius. Hence his letter of August 28 to Sir Charles Colville. “And although he does not at this moment have any illusions about his fate, he nevertheless tries to take assurances by lending Rainingitabe the usual oath of allegiance to Ranavalona I.” “
Ratefy returned to Toamasina where he remained until at least September 13. He is afraid. Yet this fear does not prompt him to act. At no time did he try to put himself at the head of the troops to defend his life. “If he asks for the sending of an English ship to pick him up, he does not take advantage of the presence of a French ship in the roads of Toamasina to flee, Commander Verchère-Raffye. In a word, he gives the impression of abandoning himself to his fate, “in relation to the attitude of Prince Ramanetaka, governor of Mahajanga. The latter tries to struggle and if he renounces it before the forces sent against him, he runs away so as not to suffer the fate of Ratefy.
On September 3, when his fate was sealed as he was ordered to go to Imerina and was “already undoubtedly” under arrest, “it can be considered that he never Attempt to escape and escape arrest. The letter he wrote on September 13 is all resignation.
Later, when he actually played his life, on September 28 in Ambatomanga, during his trial, Ratefy pleaded, trying to exculpate himself, to show the falsity of the accusation against him. “He quibbled then that he should have known that his death had become a political necessity, and that it could not be a rigged trial mounted. “
This passivity of Ratefy astonishes the archivist paleographer. He is, in fact, an important personage by his birth and his alliances, and by the high offices with which he is invested. The death of Radama is likely to bring him closer to the throne since his own son is destined to gird the crown. “So he had responsibilities to take. “
However, his first move is to go to Imerina to support his son. He can do it safely, sure to have the support Robin would eventually give him. For the latter can only fear, as a foreigner and a favorite of Radama, the accession to the throne of a new dynasty, and the modifications which would result from it. Finally, when he is a general and a man of war, he brings with him only a weak escort.