Last modified: 2014-06-21 by bruce berry
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Do you think the colors are related to the Indonesian
ones (which in turn are derived from the colours of the liberation movement)?
Harald Müller, 11 October 1996
Very likely as, if I recall correctly, the Malagasy are supposed to
have come from Malaysia / Indonesia, and the red-and-white
Indonesian flag is said to be of pre-European origin.
Roy Stilling, 11 October 1996
Inhabitants of Malayo-Indonesian origin were not the first settlers.
There were populations from Africa before. As you probably know, major
African civilizations were not attracted to the seashore, for various reasons,
including quest for healthier places, and this goes for Madagascar as well.
When navigators from SE Asia arrived, they gained political supremacy and
thus built their kingdom in the highlands (where Antananarivo now lies),
while unmitigated Africans were more or less forced to move towards the
coast. This is why the majority is Merina in the interior of the country and Sakalave
or related people near the sea (this is the same group as in the Comoros,
for instance). This is just from memory, but I think that it should be
Thanh-Tâm Lê, 02 Jan 1999
Official name of the country was changed in 1995 and it is now called Repoblikan'i
Madagasikar (Republic of Madagascar).
The country is divided in 6 provinces:
I have tried to present the full history (I hope). A useful source for such job is this site, containing lists of rulers since about 1940 for almost anything you can imagine.
The English name of the language is Malagasy. As a side-comment: concerning languages, the 1992 Constitution says
that Malagasy is "national language", although neither Malagasy nor French
appear as "official" languages in the constitutional texts. I translate
this from Encyclopaedia Universalis Yearbook but I don't really understand
Ivan Sache, 20 May 2000
I found that correct name of Madagascar is: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
(Malgache) or Republique de Madagascar (French). The first official language
is Malgache and French is the second one. You can check it on the site
of Malgache Justice Ministry
Krzysztof Kurzeja, 09 Nov 2000
The island's name in the language of the country is Madagasikara, hence
the English form of the name given above and its equivalents in various
European languages. But the adjective is Malagasy (pronounced Mal-gash
- hence the French spelling Malgache). The first stamps issued by the independent
state were inscribed République Malgache. Subsequently the indigenous
language was preferred, and the inscription became (depending on politics)
Repoblika Malagasy or Repoblika Demokratika Malagasy (the word "democratic"
as usual indicating a completely undemocratic regime). There is a language
atlas that gives the place of origin of the Malagasy language as being
in southern Borneo/Kalimantan, rather than on the Malay peninsula or on
Java or Sumatra (the main Malay islands of Indonesia).
The Madagascar page also mentions the Komoro islands (Comoros being the French form of the name). It is correct that the original human population of the Komoros had the same origin as the Malagasy. However, later immigration from the African continent, and the influence of Arab traders, resulted in the languages of those islands being dialects of Swahili. Each island has a different dialect, requiring distinct translations of the Bible into the indigenous language. Since the language of administration is French and the language of Muslim religion is Arabic, the Bibles brought in by Christian missionaries are the only available texts in the language of the inhabitants. Your chronology mentions French involvement in 19th-century Madagascar, but not British. Britain was in fact far more involved with the indigenous kingdom and was in the process of proclaiming a protectorate when the British were out maneuvered (as they were also in South West Africa) by the French, who then proceeded to suppress all opposition ruthlessly.
Mike Oettle, 02 Jan 2002
After taking control of Antananarivo by self-declared president Ravalomanana,
governors of the other five provinces declared a new capital, Tamatave (= Toamasina), a heartland of Didier Ratsiraka,
the recognized/incumbent president of the Republic of Madagascar.
Jan Zrzavy, 05 Mar 2002
The High Constitutional Court says a recount of the December presidential
election shows Marc Ravalomanana was the winner with 51.5% of the vote,
while Didier Ratsiraka won 35.9%. Ratsiraka does not recognize this result.
While Ravalomanana holds power in the capital Antananarivo, the governors
of the other provinces remain loyal to Ratsiraka. On 30 April the governor
of Antsiranana, Jean Robert Gara, proclaims his province a "sovereign state,
independent in the confederation of Madagascar."
Jan Zrzavy, 01 May 2002
As reported today, Toamasina province has also declared independence due
to the presidential arguments that's been going on in Madagascar for some time
JJ Andersson, 01 May 2002