Madagascar Modern History 3

Madagascar Modern History Part III

Established a secondary base in Suberbieville overcoming logistical difficulties due to the lack of roads and the poor performance of river transport, at the end of June the corps of operations were located with the avant-garde between Suberbieville and Tsarasaotra, the 1st brigade between Ambato and Suberbieville, the 2nd brigade around Majunga.

On 29 June the Hovas attacked in force from various sides the advanced post of Tsarasaotra, defended by a small detachment; Repelled several times, they did not desist until the arrival of the first French reinforcements, and encamped on a nearby hill. The gen. Metzinger, rushed with other troops, attacked the enemy camp the next morning and conquered it overcoming the weak resistance of the Hova, who fled abandoning tents, weapons and ammunition.

Although the Hovas had retreated for over 80km, it was not possible to proceed promptly due to the sheer lack of roads and the poor navigability of the river. Only in the middle of July, after completing the Majunla-Suberbieville road, the 2nd brigade was able to start the march to reach the 1st. At the beginning of August the 2nd brigade moved to the forefront and overtook the little ones. Ambohimena (800 msm) in the middle of the month reached the foot of the Andriba heights, defended by 5000 Hova. On 21 August the French advanced with two columns and, having rejected the enemy outposts, the next day they attacked the positions of Andriba head-on and with a bypass on the right; but before this was done the Hovas had vanished.

Given the slowness of the advance, it was not possible to reach Tananarivo before the rainy season, which meant a disaster, also given the poor sanitary conditions of the troops. It was therefore decided to stop with the bulk of the expedition and to push forward a light column taking advantage of all the beasts of burden. The column, made up of 3 groups with a total strength of about 5000 selected men and 3000 quadrupeds, began the march in groups on September 14, one day between group and group. On the 15th the vanguard attacked Tsinainondri’s position from the front and flanks, which the Hovas abandoned, as usual without a fight; he crossed the Kiangara pass, defenseless, and reached the Great Amboimena on which the Hovas seemed to want to put up serious resistance.

On the 21st the march was resumed; on the 24th, when they reached the Emirne, the main and the vanguard joined, on the 25th they continued to Andavabary and on the 26th, chased the Hova from the heights of Ambohipiara, they stopped at Tsinamandry. On the 28th the 3 groups gathered together advanced up the heights to the East. of the road, in order to avoid the marshes it crossed, and arrived on the 29th in front of Tananarivo, harassed during the march by attacks on the flanks and the rear. On the 30th the corps of operations moved on two columns against the hills that defended the capital and occupied them after some resistance. In the afternoon the white flag appeared on the Queen’s palace.

On the 1st of October the gen. Duchesne entered Tananarivo and at 3 pm the treaty that gave the French effective possession of the island was signed: in fact the queen remained the nominal sovereignty of the island, but the effective government of it was entrusted to French officials and security to a force. army of 2000 Europeans and 3000 indigenous people.

Almost immediately numerous Merinas, dissatisfied with foreign interference, rose up trying to re-establish the ancient pagan cult in the countryside, and a Protestant missionary, W. Johnston, was killed with his own daughter. However, after a few weeks, General Duchesne, judging this insurrection dead, ordered the repatriation of the troops and left the country under the government of Madagascar Laroche, resident general. The queen’s prime minister was exiled, but Laroche allowed himself to be deceived and the Merina leaders prepared the insurrection of the population at hand. Insurrections broke out in both the north and south of Imerina and several Europeans were massacred. Then, in August 1896, the French government sent General J.-S. Gallieni, valiant soldier as well as skilled administrator, who had played an important part in the occupation of the possessions of West Africa and Asia (Tonkin). General Gallieni, who arrived in Tananarivo in September, although the Imerina was in full uprising, called the queen, who paid him a visit as a vassal of France; shortly after, however, the exile of the queen, who was the center of all the rebellions, was imposed, and General Gallieni had her taken to RĂ©union. The situation was critical and the new resident had great difficulties to overcome due to the sudden abolition of slavery, promulgated without reflection by his predecessor, and the antagonism of the Protestant and Catholic missionaries. The French troops, in the 1895 campaign, had come up from the coast towards Tananarivo; in the pacification of 1897 they left Tananarivo to radiate towards the coasts, applying the process that has been called “the oil stain”, that is, from a solidly fortified center sending many small garrisons to the periphery, which left peaceful and safe countries behind them where normal life was restored: villages were rebuilt, crops recovered. From the periphery these garrisons then sent out ramifications and thus widened the “oil stain”. So Imerina was pacified and occupied, without sudden blows, progressively and all the more easily as these garrisons bought the various products in the surrounding regions, so that they lavished money, instead of oppressing the residents, as did the Hovas.

On 1 September 1897 the French occupied only, partially, the Imerina, and the Betsileo; at the end of that year they were owners of the two provinces with the two provisioning roads of Tamatava and Majunga; in October they had taken possession of the whole north of the island, of the province of the Bara and of a coastal area that reached towards the SE. up to Fort-Dauphin; finally, on December 31, 1897, the French only had to settle in the extreme south and in some point of the Menabé, on the west side, conquests that were made in 1901 and 1902.

After having obtained the submission of the residents, it will be to rebuild the village, to create a market, to open a school there. It is from this combined action of politics with force that the pacification of the country and the organization that will have to be given to it later must arise “.

When General Gallieni left Madagascar in 1905, the occupation of the island was complete; The action of France was everywhere felt in the form, not only of political influence, but of effective authority, which, moreover, most of the indigenous peoples willingly accepted. Taking into account the ethnic groups, he had left much of the administration in the hands of indigenous agents, under the surveillance of military commanders to whom he had given very specific general instructions, at the same time authorizing them to a great personal initiative in regulating particular matters., since their task was to prepare the way for civil authority.

According to SUNGLASSESTRACKER, this work which, in a few years, has transformed a wild country into an almost civilized country, did not take long to bear fruit. Continued by its successors, it led Madagascar to a considerable degree of economic prosperity, despite the difficulties presented by its sparse population, and in just 35 years of occupation.

Madagascar Modern History 3

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