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    The “Fanambadiana” (legitimate marriage) in Madagascar is generally celebrated, without any religious ceremony.
    As Barthélémy Huet of Froberville simplifies in his manuscript (The Great Dictionary of Madagascar, 1847), the boy chooses his wife. If the girl is willing, this mutual agreement is always approved by their parents. Those of the girl then arrange the dowry that the husband must offer “in return” to the latter. “The wealth of the boy’s family decides the value of the gift usually made in slaves and oxen. “
    If the husband subsequently repudiates his wife, she has the right to keep the dowry she has received from him. On the other hand, if it is she who breaks the marriage, she is obliged to surrender it. This procedure being, everyone is free to remarry.
    Thus, in the time of Flacourt, it is in the habits of the South that divorced women do not
    Can convince in new marriages without the consent of her ex-husband. “This consent never took place until he had been repaid the dowry which he had paid to his father or his wife’s family, when he had taken it into his marriage. Later, though divorced, if she comes to have children of another man, these are still supposed to belong to her.
    Polygamy is also a widespread marital custom. In the North, however, only the great chiefs use this right, for the maintenance of women on an equal footing is expensive. But they put a certain pride in maintaining a great number of them.
    In any case, throughout the Great Island, and whatever their number, there is always one which is the first in title and which is distinguished from the others by the significant name of “vadibe” (great or first wife). The others are of an inferior rank with regard to society, without, however, being subordinate to the first, which has nothing to command them.
    “This kind of liberty produces between them enmities and jealousies, of which the husband is amused. So, when he increases the number of his wives, he says pleasantly that he mampirafy, that is to say he has just made enemies (rivals), for rafy is the ordinary name by which they Between them. The name of the second women is “vady masay.”
    According to Rondaux, the child born of the first woman is the only heir. Moreover, the “vadibe” are very respected and “must be the Europeans who would be exposed to great trials and considerable compensation if they lacked in any way the consideration due to them”.
    De Froberville remarks that none of the travellers, “both old and modern”, makes mention of the particular ceremonies which are practiced in the celebration of the marriage of the
    However, Dumaine in his Journey to Anaïe asserts that the spouses are held by oath.
    “I have seen,” he said, “during my stay at Fiadana how far the power of a husband Bezounzoun over his wife goes, when the two spouses are bound by oath. “
    And he says: “A woman, abandoned for over a year by her husband, who had given her
    20 dowry piastres, lived with one of my traveling companions, who had obtained it from his mother. The thing being known in the village of the husband, relatives and friends met, then sixty, went to Fiadanana to sue the mother-in-law. She is sentenced to five oxen of fine. “The case was concluded and the fine paid without even my travelling companion being named. Satisfied with the judgement, the husband withdrew with his world, and his wife “continued to live without trouble among us.”
    Among the Bezanozano, Malagasy or foreign travellers can buy “girls at the breast” to become their wives. They give money to the parents for them to reserve. This sum constitutes a solemn undertaking, to which no one can fail without exposing himself to great indemnities.
    “What is most remarkable is, that the number of these women is not limited, that one can take as many as one wants, and that they can be ceded to others if the Circumstances do not allow us to return to the country.


    The Malagasy royal army shows a “deplorable combativity” in 1895 by killing only sixteen men to the French, the Menalamba are quick to flee and especially, the merina garrison of Ankazobe refuses to fight and rallies to the rebellion after the massacre of the Officers of the queen. These were the principal facts in 1896, at least those reported by General Resident Hippolyte Laroche.
    The French troop of six hundred men under the command of Colonel Combes was launched against the insurgents of the region of Ambatondrazaka. She advances to seek the enemy who has retired, burns the villages which, taken with fear, the inhabitants give up, “and with
    Much more efficient, we multiply the number of rebels in this way while reducing populations to hatred and despair “(Roger Pascal, Bulletin of Madagascar, October 1966).
    The military believes the hostile population when it is frightened. General Voyron acknowledged this: “The failure of this column comes chiefly from the fact that the insurgents have as a motto that they should always flee before our troops, after insignificant resistance, so that the passage of a French column, Has no action but in the very villages it traverses, and in their immediate vicinity. “
    The resident general rejected this tactic and preferred the use of militia and small posts. For it then turns out that “fifty armed men being respected by the rebels, small posts could pacify a region and bring about calm.”
    Besides, in Antsirabe, the militias prove their combativeness. More sober, faster than the Algerian or French troops, one can expect many of them. And it is an idea approved by Colonel Combes and applied later by Gallieni. But in the time of Laroche, the rivalry between the military and the civil appears.
    In addition, there is the weight of prejudice. “It was believed at that time that there were races of war, and others which were not. Thus, “rather than creating militias, that is to say, new bodies without a tradition, Voyron preferred the Malagasy forces of his army, and the Minister of War in Paris simply excluded the militia from his jurisdiction.”
    General Voyron, however, knows that political work must follow armed penetration. But his officers, unleashed in the bush, regard all the royal governors as “possible traitors like Rabezavana and Rabozaka.” They overwhelm them with benefits under pain of seeing their huts burned, molesting them …
    Their feelings towards the French residents are no better. They do not want to have them with them, or they try to exhaust them by useless marches. “In order to be definitively rid of them, Voyron, worn, susceptible and a prisoner of his entourage, demanded and obtained that the State of siege be declared throughout the zone of insecurity. “
    The soldiers wanted to be alone in the world, and since they could not seize an enemy who was too fugitive and too fast, they preferred rather than admit the ineffectiveness of their method, and gave credit to some great conspiracy directed by powerful members of the Antananarivo Government, if not by the Queen herself and her relatives, all the considerable persons caressed by Hippolytus.
    According to Roger Pascal, the Lieutenant in charge of intelligence must, in this respect, be illustrated. “He arrests common Malagasies and promises them life saved if they confessed what they knew. The unhappy ones, in order to free themselves, said all that was suggested to them, all that they thought they were expected to do. They denounced all the Great of the Kingdom, hoping that, beside these illustrious personages, they would soon be forgotten. “
    And as the young lieutenant boasts everywhere of the results of his “sensational investigations,” this can only disrupt an exasperated crowd, “seized with spies”, who populate the capital. Especially the settlers, mostly Creoles of the Mascarenes, who, seeing their economies melt, “rather than accuse their bad luck, preferred to exert their hatred against the queen.” As proof, “the queen passes in filanjana in front of the Hotel de France and the Europeans wait with hostility for her salvation”!


    Some ancient authors say that some Malagasy once captured lemurs and after casting them, put loops of string in their ears to be able to recognize them later, then release them into the forests where they let them fatten before To take them back. “We suppose that this use has now disappeared” (Louis Molet, ethnologist of Orstom, 1962).
    Later, the inhabitants of the Big Island mark their pets according to different methods. However, dogs, cats or even horses are easily recognizable. Besides, they do not allow themselves to be easily robbed or excited to such an extent that they are taken from their owners. Therefore it is not customary to “mark” them. Yes
    Sometimes they cut their tails or ears, it’s never a property mark.
    But when it comes to animals or birds living in flocks or flocks, it is no longer the case. “There may be disputes between owners of poultry. Some believe they recognize their chickens in the neighbor, others complain of seeing the geese of other mowing their young plants of rice. These birds must therefore be marked, and various methods, more or less durable, must be employed.
    Thus to the young ducks, the feathers of the rump are plucked, which is then clothed only with a light velvet down.
    “Unfortunately, these feathers grow back and you have to repeat the operation quite often, which becomes tedious when the ducks grow up. “
    Geese, as their Malagasy name indicates (gisa), are introduced by the British (geese). To mark them, some Sihanaka breeders of the Alaotra use dyeing. “They packed aniline powder bags at the market and put a pinch on their backs, between the two wings of their birds. The impalpable grains penetrate into the down and dissolve in consequence of the incessant baths of the birds. “
    Everything changes when it comes to the ox, the noble animal par excellence. “An owner not only knows each of the animals of his flock to the point of being able to describe the size, the dress and the shape of the horns from memory, but he has borne their hereditary mark, his coat of arms. “
    These marks have evocative names that make it possible to recognize them: “earring”, “ax iron”, “zither racks” … And according to their regular disposition, they also constitute talking figures: “tail of catfish “” Goat’s hoof “,” wild boar’s hoof “,” comb teeth “, etc.
    These formerly special cuts to oxen are increasingly being applied to others
    Pets, such as pigs or goats.
    The Merina and the Sihanaka, who let their pigs wander through the marshes, cut their ears in a banal way and without refinement, but sufficient to recognize them.
    On the other hand, the Mahafaly raising quantities of goats
    Than to their oxen. So they also cut their ears. To show
    Their attachment to their domestic animals, they sometimes place near or on their tombs, sculpted posts surmounted by strange animals with goat’s horns and the bump of zebu, and whose ears carry delicate cuttings …


    In an article published in 1963, Dr. Tsimahafotsy Randriamaro of the University of Montpellier examines the Malagasy medical spirit through his proverbs. Ohabolana that relate to health, diseases, remedies, life, death.
    He then speaks of the wise Mpanandro (devin) who uses original psycho-technical tests to test or choose the young prince to rule. Similarly, observations made on the character and temperament of the child in relation to his astrology (vintana) are usually contained in the name he bears.
    And even if it is difficult to translate these picturesque proverbs, full of wisdom and humor, Dr. Randriamaro tries to get there.
    “Strength can not resist the Spirit,” that is to say, intelligence. “Mother runner, child shriveled,” or medically speaking athrepsic, hereditary-syphilitic, rachitic.
    “Grief is a disease, it is benign for some, acute for others” (without comment). “Grief is like a cloud, when it is too heavy, it falls” a shower of tears! “If the spleen is affected, the gallbladder feels the backlash” by organic synergy. “Cut your right hand or your left hand, the pain is the same” (without comment).
    “He slipped with all his heart and fell with all his soul”: he ended up being influenced by the ideas that were presented to him. “The anguish of hoping in vain is painful, but a sacrifice that one imposes oneself, one can always bear it.” “There are no real fools, but the maniacs are numerous” (psychosis). “If we do not exploit idiots and imbeciles, it is because we fear the God-Creator” (mental debility). “Difficult to diagnose as the disease of Rainizanabelo”: the latter was a maniac who told his ills with such an imagination that the healers were perplexed about the diagnosis.
    The Malagasy also have an innate belief in the immortality of the soul. Despite some humorous forms of a few sayings, they have the worship of ancestors, just as they have great respect for the sick: “The sick are noble sovereigns.” “Do not be quiet when you are sick, like a sickly (purulent ophthalmia) who has a good pillow” (quiet sleep). “Pushing as an asthmatic snoring without being asleep. “Do not act like a leper who swims, but drowns himself when he reaches the goal”: having no more fingers because of the mutilation due to leprosy, he can no longer cling to the shore and let himself sink . “A great patient without a cover, if the disease does not kill him, the cold will finish him.” “
    “We are not a man if we have not been tested by fever (tazo).” Or more exactly if one has not been vaccinated with fever (efan’ny tazo). According to Dr. Randriamaro, before the discovery of the Jennerian vaccine, the vaccination technique was already practiced by Malagasy healers. They used the greyish crust of the pustules during the period of desiccation. Slight scars on one part of the body caused a few benign eruptions that immunized against smallpox. Because “there is no disease worse than smallpox: it is this that made me lose those whom I loved”. Same method to immunize against scorpion stings: scarification at the tip of the finger and tongue with some liquid from the maceration of the tail of the scorpion.
    “Fever of Avaradrano, the remedies deemed sacred do not make a miracle. The region of Avaradrano is located in the north-east of Imerina. Formerly, periodical epidemics of pernicious fevers were rife there. Faced with the number of deaths, the ineffectiveness of remedies has become proverbial. And when we speak of epidemic, here is another ohabolana: “Epidemic diseases of Imamo (south-western region of Imerina), those who are not mowed by death, keep a big belly” (splenomegaly). “The soldiers of the army of Rainingory come back covered with ulcers. It must be said that the health service of this general left something to be desired, whence this saying.
    Another: “Do not prepare remedies like Rabetsiafindra, he knows how to prepare for others and not for himself. “It is not bad to heal without medication” (medicating nature). “A single remedy is not enough,” but “too many remedies are harmful,” while “the remedy of the weak is their honesty.”
    To conclude this non-exhaustive list of Ohabolana, let us say that “having a vigorous arm is not an assurance for life, and youth is not a talisman against death,” for we shall all die; Or “life is like an old man’s song, it ends in a sob”; Or finally: “Life is a shadow and a smoke, it passes and is no more. “


    When the “Teny Soa Hanalan’Andro” appeared in January 1866, it was only five years since Ranavalona I had died, four years that the existing printing works in Antananarivo were operating again after a silence of about twenty-five years.
    Thus, according to Razoharinoro Randriamboavonjy, during this quarter of a century, the Malagasy have only the Bible to read and again, in secret and on copies taken from the eyes of the emissaries of the queen. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising if the “Teny Soa” is welcomed by the population.
    It is a review of the London Missionary Society printed in Imarivolanitra by John Parrett. Initially bimonthly, it becomes monthly from 1869. “Teny Soa” is essentially a review of religious education and information, since its purpose is to deepen the knowledge of the Bible among its readers. Its columns also promote their general culture through literary, historical, scientific articles …
    The publication of the “Teny Soa” will have to open the way to other titles published by the various missions present in Madagascar. Such as the “Resaka Malagasy” of the Catholics in 1874; The “Mpiaro” of the Anglicans in 1875, where one can appreciate the first translations in Malagasy of the French and English literature of the time; The “Mpanolo-tsaina” of the LMS in 1877; The “Mpamangy” of the Norwegian Mission in 1882; The “Sakaizan’ny Ankizy Madinika” later became the “Sakaizan’ny Tanora”, in 1884.
    The aim of these various journals and periodicals was almost the same: they were periodicals of religious education and information and of general culture. In addition to these various religious missions, private individuals also began publishing their newspapers little by little.
    Toamasina in particular, which has its printing company introduced by Lalané de la Couronne since 1879, is “an important center of journalism”. Two titles appear in 1881, “La Cloche” and “L’Opinion Publique”, and in 1891, the “Ministerial” and the “Courrier de Madagascar” in French and Malagasy.
    In his turn, Antsiranana published in 1894 “Le Clairon” and “Future of Diego-Suarez”. Around the same period (1883-1885), in the capital the “Madagascar Times” of Tacchi and the “Madagascar News” of Harvey are published. Both follow an editorial line that defends the policy of the government of Rainilaiarivony. “Following these two newspapers in English, the resident general of France published the Progress of Imerina and Malagasy to counterbalance the opinions emitted by the English newspapers. “
    Mention should also be made of the “Gazety Malagasy” published in 1875 under the inspiration of Dr. Davidson, the first to do medical education in Madagascar, Jukes with Street as editor. It is a political journal and social criticism with an almost revolutionary tendency for the time, “since it touches on the problems of polygamy and slavery”.
    Rainilaiarivony does not pardon those articles which also denounced the abuses committed by certain “officials, dignitaries of the Court”. Moreover, the Gazette appeared only one year, until June 1876, despite its popularity (1,000 copies monthly).
    Until 1901, Madagascar enjoyed total freedom of the press. But as of that date, the colonial government put an end to it. “Or, more exactly, it established two regimes of the press until 1938, where the freedom of press is restored for all. The decree of February 16, 1901, established the system of authorization to ask the Governor General for newspapers in the Malagasy language. This regime limits their freedom and they are forbidden to address political or administrative issues. And the authorization granted may be revocable.
    As for the press in French, it continues to enjoy the freedom granted by the law of July 29, 1883. Thus, from 1896 to 1938, about forty titles are published by the French. As for the press of opinion, it is Jean Ralaimongo who inaugurates it. He founded
    “Le Libéré” in 1923 while still in France after the First World War. He only takes a few numbers. Much more important is “The Opinion of Diego” which he created in 1927, upon his return to the country, with Dr. Ravoahangy Andrianavalona and Paul Dussac, socialist settler of Nosy Be. The “Malagasy Reveil” (1929) became the “Reveil de Madagascar”, to which Dussac and Razafy Abraham worked, and many other titles such as “Ny Rariny-Justice” (1936). It is in this last issue that Jules Ranaivo tries to pass political articles in Malagasy with the translation into French. The purpose of all these journals is the struggle for equal rights and against the various abuses of the administration (indigenous, labor service for community service, benefits …)


    Before the birth of his daughter Raketaka, it was to his nephew Rakotobe that Radama I intended his succession. Thereafter, he changed his dispositions: he would give him his daughter Raketaka in marriage so that they would both reign together. “It was understood, however, that real and total sovereignty would belong only to the Queen. “
    The King then entrusted the education of his nephew to the missionaries on their arrival, and the young prince benefited greatly. It must be said that “Radama had more than once repeated the Rev. Jones that he should not have indulgence or care for him if he showed himself weak or lazy in his studies. “
    This rigor combined with his natural aptitudes makes him accomplish rapid progress. And although very young, he is admitted in “first division”, the students of Jones being divided into five divisions.
    According to Simon Ayache, the court columnist, Raombana, owes this to Radama’s confidence in the education of missionaries, his journey to England and his own career. But in Antananarivo itself, it takes a lot of energy to Radama, “and also to his mother Rambolamasoandro who intervenes vigorously in this field” to overcome the general mistrust.
    “If you wish to become wise and happy,” said the king, “and please me, send your children to the schools and let them learn, for the good and wise pupils will be honored by me.”
    But neither Princess Raketaka nor Prince Rakotobe would ever marry, much less would reign. It is the first royal wife Ranavalona I who ascends the throne and “cleans” the court of the king’s supporters, the latter having prematurely turned his back. She pronounces the condemnation, among others, of Rakotobe and its parents.
    When the new queen comes to power, noble and simple subjects must swear in two kinds of ritual ceremony.
    The milefina omby is the most solemn. It is reserved for nobles and tribal leaders.
    According to James Sibree (Madagascar and its inhabitants, 1873) “a calf is felled, then the head and tail are cut, the respective places of which are inverted. The front legs are also extended in place of the hind legs and reciprocally “. The beast is then cut open and spears are pushed into the flesh which still beats.
    The chiefs and nobles who have to take an oath, hold speeches while one of the judges present takes the oath. The formula utters terrible imprecations against those who would perjure themselves by recognizing another sovereign.
    “Those who attempt such a thing will be killed by virtue of the terrible and sacred character of this ceremony; let them be treated like this young black bull, slain, lying before us; And also those who would feed such a project in the depths of their hearts. And may this curse fall on their children and on the children of their children. “
    The other ritual, the misotro vokaka, is reserved for the people. Pirogues filled with water were brought in, and a pinch of earth was taken from the tombs of the sovereigns of the Imerina (vokaka). The people invited to taste this water also pronounce a curse.
    This kind of ceremony always strikes the people with terror and distances them from any desire for conspiracy or even revolt.


    The last part of the French “Livre jaune” contains instructions addressed to General Duchesne, Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force, and to Ronchot, Delegate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The “Yellow Book” is the collection of different documents on the affairs of Madagascar distributed to the French Parliament.
    These instructions speak of the second Treaty-the first date of 1885- to impose on Queen Ranavalona III and the course of conduct to be observed during the campaign if the Malagasy government seeks to open negotiations.
    According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hanotaux, “either the government
    Malagasy, coming immediately to resipiscence, will endeavor to treat during your march on Antananarivo; Or else he will wait to submit that our troops have taken possession of this city; Or else, pushing the resistance to its last limits, he will abandon the capital to retreat to the South. “
    Actions must therefore be taken according to this alternative.
    In the first case, Duchesne and Ronchot will sign the treaty on condition that their Malagasy counterparts, sent by the queen and the prime minister, are endowed with regular powers and authorized to sign for the Malagasy side. However, this must not interrupt the rise of the French expeditionary force towards the Imerina, for “whatever the Hova government may adopt, the taking of possession of Antananarivo must be the first condition of peace.”
    In the second option, if the troops of the expedition arrive in Antananarivo and are in the presence of a regularly constituted power, Duchesne will have to sign the treaty by this one and a garrison will be installed in the city.
    If the Court abandons the capital, the French troops will have to pursue it and catch up with it. “Weakened by the moral effect which the arrival of our troops in the capital would have had on the population, probably lacking in food, not likely to make decisions and to organize in the midst of such serious events, Not so much his resistance as he would not have time to recognize himself. “
    In all three cases the march of the expeditionary corps must be rapid and must be done during the dry season so as not to exacerbate and weaken the soldiers.
    Concerning signing the convention (or treaty), Duchesne’s instructions also emphasize the need to deal with an “existing, known and accepted power of the population.”
    “You must not attempt to take his throne from Queen Ranavalona.” There would be even advantages to the fact that it was the sovereign herself who took the initiative in the negotiations to bring about the submission of the Hovas … “
    In short, Minister Hanotaux expressly recommends that Duchesne avoid, as far as possible, an attack on the state of affairs existing in Madagascar. It already foresees using the political and administrative organization of the Big Island for the functioning of the protectorate in its beginnings.
    It also insists that the local populations be treated “with a great spirit of justice” and that they be witnessed “all kindness” reconcilable with the concern for the safety of the French troops and requirements of military operations. “It will be impolitic to crush their morals, their interests, and even their prejudices unnecessarily …”
    The instructions also address the case of Sakalava, in particular, that of “independent or semi-independent populations” in general. The French will have to “stand with them on a great reserve”. Above all, they must avoid making promises “that perhaps we can not keep in the future”.
    Minister Hanotaux spoke of the first reforms to be carried out concerning “the improvement of the regime of corvée, the progressive abolition of slavery and the organization of judicial administration”.


    At the time of the re-opening of the Parliamentary Chambers in 1896, the French government distributed a book of documents entitled “The Yellow Book” on the affairs of Madagascar and announced two months earlier.
    It contains a series of published documents – not less than 71 – which “prove the wisdom and continuity of our policy in the island since 1885, while at the same time justifying the Ribot Cabinet some rather facile reproaches Addressed himself to having sacrificed French interests at the conclusion of the first Treaty of Antananarivo, “after the Franco-Merina war of 1883-1885.
    One of the first documents contains the instructions given by Freycinet to Le Myre de Vilers, when he was appointed resident general in 1886. They may be summed up in a few words: to refrain from interference in the internal affairs of the ” island; To avoid all that might unnecessarily shade the Merina; To lead this people by wise counsels in the way of progress; And do nothing to nourish hostilities.
    However, the “Yellow Book” remains silent on the subsequent administration of Le Myre de Vilers.
    The following documents immediately jump into the year 1891, at the time of the difficulties raised by the question of exequatur to be granted in particular to Messrs. Tappenbeck, the German consul, and Campbell, his counterpart from the United States. “The Prime Minister (Rainilaiarivony) was willing to receive their request from the hand of our resident general, but he obstinately refused to answer through him.”
    Then there is an interval of two years, but the question of exequatur is still not settled neither by Bompard nor by Lacoste, successors of Le Myre de Vilers. In any case, the French feel threatened with much more serious dangers. “The Prime Minister makes large orders of arms in Europe and threatens to take over the telegraph line that runs between Tananarive and Tamatave; He wants to isolate us in the interior of the island. “
    Larrouy reproached the Prime Minister and asked for explanations. Rainilaiarivony replied that the aim of the armaments was “to repress the banditry of the Fahavales”. He adds, moreover, that he has the right to command the weapons that suit him and eventually refuse any answer to the question of the resident general.
    “War became inevitable. The French Government deems it sufficient to reinforce the garrison of Diego-Suarez, and to watch closely the coasts to prevent any landing of arms, and thus to avoid war. However, these measures have no influence on the Hova government’s provisions. The latter persisted in considering “the prospect of an energetic action by France in Madagascar as far removed and unlikely”.
    Imagining the worst, Rainilaiarivony “hoped that, thanks to his armaments and also to the difficulties which prevented the march of a European army on Antananarivo, he might succeed in defeating our efforts and in any case Weary them. “
    In view of these provisions, the Dupuy cabinet no longer hesitated. To facilitate the movement of the French residents of the capital, he sent an extraordinary mission, the aim of which was to “amuse” the Merina and avoid any offensive movement on their part until the French reached the coast.
    Entrusted to Le Myre de Vilers, the mission has as instructions to apply “the only solution that can prevent the return of any conflict”. They are summarized as follows:
    “To reinforce, in the proportion which we consider to be appropriate, the strength of the detachment
    Stationed in the capital; If necessary, be able to send into the interior of the island or land on the coasts sufficient forces to prevent or repress the disorders which our compatriots might suffer in their persons or in their property.
    The instructions also state that if the Malagasy government shirks and drags the discussions, Le Myre de Vilers will send an ultimatum to the Prime Minister to give his answer within a specified time; His silence will be regarded as an “inadmissibility”.


    In his letter XII entitled “Of the Blacks”, Jacques Henri Bernardin of Saint-Pierre relates the daily slaves in Ile de France (present-day Mauritius). It is in Madagascar, he says, that we are going to look for blacks destined for the cultivation of land. “We buy a man for a barrel of powder, for rifles, paintings and especially piastres. The most expensive cost little more than 50 ECU. “Parents, friends, and couples are separated. “They are desperate; They imagine that the whites are going to eat them; That they make red wine with their blood and gunpowder with their bones. “
    At dawn, three lashes call them to work. “Everyone goes with his pickaxe to the plantations where they work almost naked in the heat of the sun. They are given as food for ground corn, cooked in water, or bread of manioc; To wear a piece of canvas. At the slightest negligence, they are tied by the feet and hands on a ladder. The commander, armed with a post whip, gives them on the back bare 100 and up to 200 shots. Each shot removes a portion of the skin. Then the wretched man is detached; A necklace of iron with three points is put around his neck and he is brought back to work. There are some who are more than a month before being able to sit down. Women are punished in the same way. Returning to their huts at night, they must pray to the God of the Whites “for the prosperity of their masters” and before going to bed they must wish them a good night.
    Bernardin de Saint-Pierre also speaks of the Code Noir, the famous ordinance of 1685 bearing the legal status of slavery. “This favorable law commands that, at each punishment, they shall not receive more than thirty shots, that they shall not work on Sundays, that they shall be given meat every week, shirts every year; But the law is not followed. “And the attitude of the Creoles to their slaves rubbed off on their dogs. An engraving of the eighteenth century on the Malagasy slaves in Mauritius: “The latter have adopted the sentiments of their masters, and at the slightest signal they throw themselves furiously upon the slaves. “
    The most unfortunate are the elderly slaves.
    “Sometimes when they are old, they are sent to seek their life as best they can. One day I saw one who had only the skin and the bones, to cut the flesh of a dead horse to eat it. It was a skeleton that devoured another. When the Europeans are moved by their living conditions, the inhabitants (Creoles) tell them that they do not know the blacks. “They accuse them of being so greedy that at night they take food from neighboring dwellings; So lazy that they take no interest in the affairs of their masters; And that their wives are mothers of families so wretched that they prefer to have an abortion, rather than to bring children into the world, in order to be in their turn enslaved until their death!
    According to Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Malagasy slaves have a naturally playful character, “but after some time of slavery, they become melancholy. Love alone still seems to charm their sorrows (…) When they love, they fear neither fatigue nor punishment. When the slaves can no longer bear their fate, they react by desperate acts. “Some hang themselves or poison themselves; others put themselves in a canoe, and without sails, without provisions, without compass, venture to make a journey of 200 leagues of sea to return to Madagascar. They have been seen, taken up, and restored to their masters. “

    But they usually take refuge in the woods where they are hunted with detachments of soldiers, blacks and dogs. “There are people who enjoy it. They are raised like wild beasts. When they can be reached, they are killed with a gun, their heads cut off, and carried in triumph to the town at the end of a stick. That’s what I see almost every week. It also happens that when one catches them, one cuts one ear and one whips them. But “at the second desertion, they are whipped, they cut off a hock, they are chained. At the third time, they are hanged; But then they are not denounced: the masters are afraid of losing their money. For some, moreover, it is a joy to die because death frees them from their sufferings.
    “For it is not that religion does not seek to console them; From time to time they are baptized. They are told that they have become brothers of the whites and that they will go to heaven. But they can not believe that Europeans can never lead them to heaven. They say that they are the cause of all their evils on earth; That, before approaching them, they fought with sticks of iron; That we have taught them to kill themselves from afar with fire and bullets; That we excite among them war and discord in order to have cheap slaves; That they followed without fear the instinct of nature, that we poisoned them with provisions, and that they were beaten cruelly for no reason. A slave, almost white, came one day to throw herself at my feet; Made him rise early and watch very late; When she fell asleep, she rubbed her lips with rubbish; If she did not lick, she would have her flogged. She begged me to ask for her pardon, which I obtained. Often the masters grant it, and two days afterwards they double the punishment. “