BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press

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FROM the engraving which we give in our present number, and which has been copied from a photograph, a correct idea may be formed of the plain and village of ANALAKELY, a northern suburb of the Capital of Madagascar. The church and district are under the charge of four native ordained pastors, assisted by a large staff of native preachers. The church member number some 6,500, and there are forty-five elementary schools in the district. The superintending missionary is the Rev. GEORGE COUSINS.

The chief item of intelligence from Madagascar which has reached England during the past month has called forth from all friends of liberty and progress a thrill of devout satisfaction and thankfulness. At a Kabary held in the capital on the 20th of June, freedom and protection were granted by the Malagasy Government to all Mozambique slaves at that time in the island, and such traffic in future was entirely prohibited. The PROCLAMATION read by the PRIME MINISTER at Andohalo, printed copies of which had previously been circulated by thousands through the length and breadth of the land, is far too extended to be quoted in full in our pages. From the authorised translation of the address, with which we have been favoured, a few passages have, however, been selected, and which may be fitly introduced by the following summary of the document as a whole, furnished by the Rev. R. TOY:—

"The speech itself was most skilfully arranged, and, from a Malagasy point of view, could not have been more successful. The Prime Minister spoke for about an hour, not confining himself to the written address which he held in his hand, but enforcing it by extempore speech. He gave the people an account of their former sovereigns, and showed them the great importance these attached to fulfilling treaty obligations. Then, coming down to the time of Rasoherina, when the English treaty was made, he reminded them that she had not concluded the treaty on her own responsibility, but had consulted them before its completion. This treaty, made in the time of Rasoherina, could not be set aside by Ranavalona, but must be upheld by her, as her successor and substitute, including the clauses referring to the importation of Mozambique slaves. Therefore, hearing that these were imported into the country, and concealed until they knew the language, she, in 1874, ordered the release of all who had been introduced into the country since the time that the English treaty was signed. Yet, notwithstanding, her word had been set aside, and only here and there one had been set at liberty. Not only so, but the trade in Mozambiques was still being carried on, though they are well known to have been stolen from their country. Now, however, not only those who have been brought here since the signing of the treaty, but all Mozambiques, however long they have been in the country, must be set free. This is the substance of what he said; but neither from this, nor from an English translation, will you be able to realise the full force which it has in its Malagasy form, or the effect which it produced here. But the main strength of the address rests upon the fact that it was understood, and intended to be understood, as meaning all that it said. It is seen clearly now that the Prime Minister is in earnest in the matter, and that any one refusing to liberate a single slave known to be African origin will do so at his own peril. Special emphasis was put upon this, that, whether the person belonged to the higher or lower ranks of society, if he refuse to obey the word of the Queen at this Kabary he would be held guilty, and suffer even the punishment of death for the offence."


The Proclamation is divided into five sections, and is addressed "to the assembled people at Andohalo, and published throughout the Kingdom of Madagascar on the 20th of June (11 Alakaosy), 1877." The following is the text of the concluding clauses of Section V. :—

"Now, the kingdom having been given by God to me, I declare that I will put a stop to these evils, for I am a Sovereign tsy mba tia vezovezo (who hates disturbance or quarrelsomeness).

"Therefore I decree that I set free all the Mozambiques in my kingdom to be my Ambaniandro (subjects), whether those newly introduced or those who have been here for a long time. For it is not so! ye under heave?

"And if there is any one who will not obey this edict, but still holds the Mozambiques as slaves, I shall count such as criminals, and the penalty of the laws shall be enforced upon them. For is it not so! Oh, ye under heaven?

"And I also decree that whoever has traded in Mozambiques can no longer make a legal claim in respect of such transactions. And should such take place, he that makes such a claim shall be held guilty. For is it not so! ye under heaven?

"And if this decree of mine is perverted by any one to deceive the wise or incite the simple, and so cause disturbances in my kingdom, then whoever he may be I will hold him guilty, and condemn him to death, for I am a Sovereign that will not deceive.

"Again I declare unto you, ye under heaven, that whoever obeys the laws of Andrianampoinimerina, and alters not the decrees of Lehidama, Rabodonandrianampoinimerina, and Rasoherimanjaka and especially observes my own decrees, for I, Queen Ranavalomanjaka, am heir to these who reigned before me, then rest assured that I am the protector of your wives, your children, and your property; and when I say trust me then rest assured. For is it not so! ye under heaven?"


The circumstances attending an event fraught with so important a bearing upon the future history of the Malagasy nation are equally interesting and instructive. Under date June 21st the Rev. JAMES RICHARDSON writes:—

"We have seen for some weeks past that something important was about to take place, and the people have been in an unwonted state of excitement. The guns have been fired at unexpected times during the night and day, especially on the day (more than a fortnight ago) when the step was finally decided on, and again when the Kabary was printed. They were fired again when the messengers were despatched, carrying them to all the chief Government towns; and again on Monday and Tuesday, when the officers above a certain rank were informed of what import the Kabary was.

"Thousands of people began making their way up to the capital on Monday, and by Tuesday the place was crowded.

"The usual military assemblage met at Imahamasina on the Tuesday, and throughout the whole of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we were kept awake by the crowds of people coming from the north and north-east to attend on the Wednesday morning.

"We were not invited to be present, but some of us got to understand that we were at liberty to attend should we feel disposed.

"By eight o'clock the place was comparatively filled, and by ten o'clock, when I went up, there could not have been less than 50,000 persons assembled on the plain at Andohalo.

"We were not many, the whole European company present, within the enclosure, consisting of Messrs. Toy, Grainge, Moss, Pickersgill, and myself, of the L.M.S.; Mr. Clark, of the F.F.M.A.; and Mr. and Mrs. Gregory, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Coles of the S.P.G. The French and the traders viewed the scene from a distance, and there were several ladies on the verandahs of the surrounding houses.

"I had difficulty in making my way up to the enclosure, but by the exercise of a little complimentary and conciliatory language I got safely through the dense mass of people; and one of the officers quickly provided each one of us with an armchair of native make. We had an uninterrupted view of the whole proceeding, and as there were no soldiers in front of us we had not the least difficulty in seeing and hearing all.

"Exactly at half-past eleven the guns announced the departure of the Prime Minister his party from the palace. All the guns around the capital were fired, and the hum and expectation of the vast assemblage was something wonderful. The day up to this had been cloudy and wet, a bitter east wind blowing, and the small rain coming down at times and making one shiver from cold and damp. I could not but look upon it as a just expression of the feeling of the people – as they had got to know by whispers here and there of what was going to happen – a cold, bitter feeling against all and sundry persons who were about to put an end to the iniquitous traffic in human blood, and rob them of them of their ill-gotten gains; and the sun forcing its way through the mist and clouds as symbolic of the ever-increasing power of the Sun of Righteousness upon the heart and mind of the nation.

"The first to make their appearance on the road from the palace opening into Andohalo were nine of the ancient wives of the sovereign (Izy roa amby ny folo vavy), and the Queen's children, carried in palanquins, dressed in scarlet cloaks and covered by scarlet umbrellas, symbolic of royalty. These were followed by eight boys (!) in charge of a small cannon on wheels, and which was fired at intervals on the road down. They were followed by a company of boy soldiers, dressed in a most becoming uniform of a blueish-grey colour, with dark stripes on the trousers, the arms of their tunics, and across the breast. Each had a Snider rifle, with bayonet attached. They marched in good military order, and were certainly the lions of the day. In true military array, and in good order, they took up a position to the south of the space which had been left clear. They were under the command of two young men in 'Lovett's' uniform, and Razanakombana in a field marshal's. Behind them came the Queen's band, and then the Prime Minister himself in glittering uniform, five medals on his breast, a brilliant star above them, a scarf richly embroidered with gold lace across his breast, and a hussar cap also richly embroidered. He rode his spirited charger, and was followed by Drs. Mackie and Parker, and a large company of officers and young men, all in civil attire."


Digital Publication Details

Title: “Madagascar”

Subtitle(s): “The Queen's Proclamation”

Creator(s): Anonymous; Ranavolmanjaka

Publication date: (1877) 2022

Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE

Critical encoding: Trevor Bleick, Kenneth C. Crowell, Dino Franco Felluga, Kayla Morgan, Kasey Peters, Adrian S. Wisnicki

One More Voice identifier: liv_025057

Cite (Chicago Author-Date): Anonymous, and Ranavolmanjaka. (1877) 2022. “Madagascar.” Edited by Trevor Bleick, Kenneth C. Crowell, Kayla Morgan, and Kasey Peters. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-soas/liv_025057_HTML.html.

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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