“The Great Island”
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Today we will highlight the fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar.
The island of Madagascar is uniquely positioned between Africa and Asia. In 1883, France invaded Madagascar and by 1896 had established rule over the island, which became a French colony.
In the 1945 French elections, two Malagasy nationalists were elected to the French parliament. Through the establishment of the French Union in 1946, Madagascar was made an overseas territory of the French Republic, with representatives to the Paris assemblies and a local assembly at Antananarivo. From the very beginning of colonization, some Malagasies resisted the regime by revolting. On March 29, 1947, Malagasy nationalists revolted against the French starting the Malagasy Uprising. The uprising eventually spread over one-third of the island. France however tripled the number of troops on the island, primarily by transferring soldiers from French colonies elsewhere in Africa. After sending reinforcements, France took back control of Madagascar in 1949.
After France adopted the Constitution of the Fifth Republic in 1958, Madagascar held a referendum to determine whether the country should become a self-governing republic within the French community. The Antoko'ny Kongresi'ny Fahaleovantenan'i Madagasikara (AKFM) and other nationalists opposed to the concept of limited self-rule. After a year of negotiations between then president Philibert Tsiranana and his French counterparts, Madagascar' declared its independence from its former colonial occupier France on June 26th, 1960.
For the culture
The capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo. Formerly known as “Analamanga” and “Tananarive”, Antananarivo is the largest city of the country as well as the economic hub. In the Malagasy language Antananarivo means “town of a thousand”.
The national language of Madagascar is Malagasy which has similarities with the languages of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. More than nine-tenths of the population is Malagasy, which is divided into about 20 ethnic groups. The largest and most dominant of the groups is the Merina people.
Malagasy cuisine encompasses the many diverse culinary influence of Africa and Asia. Some of the most traditional Malagasy foods, are Romazava, Koba and Lasopy. Romazava is the national dish of Madagascar and a type of laoka– side dishes that are traditionally served with rice. This laoka is a stew made with a combination of local greens (paracress, anamamy, mustard greens), beef or zebu meat, tomatoes, and onions. Lasopy is a soup made with vegetables such as turnips, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, green onions, potatoes, and leeks. Kobandravina is a cake made of peanuts and rice flour which is commonly sold at marketplaces and gas stations.
Madagascar has recently been referred to as an innovator of the "COVID-19 Cure". President Andry Rajoelinam announced that Africa's COVID-19 concerns might soon be over. In April he announced that Covid-Organics, a bitter herbal drink produced by The Malagasy Institute of Applied Research could both prevent and cure the virus.
Madagascar features very diverse and distinctive terrains and habitats. It is home to 70 species of lemurs found nowhere else on Earth. There are also over 346 species of reptiles found nowhere else besides Madagascar. Including around 150 species of chameleons and more than half of them can be found here.
Madasgascar is also famously known for their baobabs. The baobab is also called ‘reniala’ which means ‘mother of the forest’ in the Malagasy language. Six out of eight existing baobab species can be found in Madagascar. They can live up to 2,500 years old, and seeing the sunset at the Avenue of the Baobabs is an unforgettable experience.
Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, a UNESCO site comprises of karstic landscapes and limestone uplands cut into impressive 'tsingy' peaks and a 'forest' of limestone needles, the spectacular canyon of the Manambolo river, rolling hills and high peaks. The Rova of Antananarivo (or Rova Manjakamiadana in the Malagasy language), sits on the mountain Analamanga offers a stunning 360-degree view of Antananarivo and its 12 cherished hills. Its rich history is bestowed on the Manjakamiadan (the Palace). In it one will find the Queen's palace, part of a great royal complex built for Queen Rasoherina.
The "great island" has both of its roots in African and Asian culture. With its diverse and distinctive terrains, habitats and its flavourful culinary. Madagascar is definitely a site to see. We cannot wait to continue to share more information about Madagascar in the coming days.