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Madagascar: “History repeats itself…as a farce” in recent unrest

Members of a Yahoo! forum are wondering how the situation in Madagascar degenerated into looting, general anarchy and the current power vacuum; how the crisis and general mayhem could have been avoided; and how the situation is different or similar to 2002, when eight months of political turmoil and violence shook Madagascar.  Then, ironically, it was the currently embattled President, Marc Ravalomanana, who was demanding democracy and was heralded as the people's choice.

“Ny fanontaniana mipetraka sy tonga ho azy dia ny hoe inona moa no mahasamihafa ny zavatra potika amin'izao taona 2008 izao amin'izay zavatra potika tamin'ny taona 2002? … Ka inona ary no vaha-olana tsy hiverenan'ny fanapotehana
intsony?”

“The question we are now naturally asking is the difference between the current destruction and the destruction of things in 2002?… What is the solution so that looting and destruction like these never happen again? “.

Rajiosy titles in one of his posts that

“L'histoire se repete… en farce”

“History repeats itself…as a farce”

Rajiosy then retraces the history of Madagascar's political instability

  • fikomian’ny mponina tany Atsimo – 1971.
  • fitokonan’ny mpianatra oniversite – Mai 1972.
  • fanenjehana merina tany Toamasina – 1972 na 1973 tsy tsaroako tsara intsony.
  • fanonganam-panjakana tsy nahomby – Desambra 1974
  • fikomian’ny GMP, fametraham-pialana, fandraisam-pahefana sy famonoana filoham-panjakana – Janvier/Février 1975.
  • fanenjehana sy famonoana kômoriana tany Mahajanga – 1975.
  • fitokonan’ny mpianatra indray notarihin’ny Pr Andriamampandry sy ny MAFM KTMA – 1977 izy izay.
  • raharahan’ny kung fu sy ny TTS – 1979 (?)
  • fifanenjehan’ny mafana sy ny miaramila tany avaratry ny nosy – 1979/80 tany ho any (?)
    fitokonam-be – 1991.
  • fanalana ny filoha Zafy – 1994.
  • fifidianana ady sahala tamin’i Zafy sy Ratsiraka. Itsy farany no “notendrena” ho filoha – 1996.
  • fifidianana sy fitokonam-be ary gidragidra – 2002.
  • rotadrotaka tetsy sy teroa Mahajanga / Toamasina / Fianarantsoa / Toliara – 2003 ka hatramin’ny 2006.
  • fitakiana demôkrasia ho an’ny Viva – 2009
  • .

  • insurrection in Southern Madagascar – 1971
  • students strike – may 1972
  • pogroms against Merina (Author's note: the most numerous ethnic group of Madagascar) in Toamasina – 1972 or 1973
  • failed putsch – december 1974
  • insurrection of the army, resignation, change of power and assassination of the country's leader – January/February 1975
  • pogroms against Comorians in Mahajanga – 1975
  • students strike lead by Pr Andriamampandry and MAFM KTMA – around 1977
  • violent fights between Kung Fu adepts and TTS (Group of Disenfranchised Youth) – around 1979 (?)
  • violence between rebels and army in northern Madagascar – 1979/80(?)
  • general strikes – 1991
  • impeachment of President Zafy – 1994
  • controversial presidential elections. Ratsiraka was “designed” as president – 1996
  • elections, general strikes and violence – 2002
  • scattered riots Mahajanga / Toamasina / Fianarantsoa / Toliara – 2003 to 2006.
  • Viva's demand for democracy – 2009

Burzano 2000 thinks we need to educate the masses in order to avoid the repetition of violence:

“Mila tadiavina (ianarana) ny lalana sy rafitra ahazoan'ny vahoaka maneho hevitra amim-pahatoniana sy tsy arahin-kerisetra. Mila tadiavina koa ny lalana ahazoan'ny eo amin'ny familiana amin'ny ambaratongam-pahefana rehetra mihaino ny feon'ny vahoaka sy manova famindra tsy arahin-kerisetra rehefa misy ilana izany. Mazava be ilay zava-nisy sy toa mbola misy iny hoe “Émeutes de la faim”. Aza adino fa be dia be ny olona efa tsy nihinana sakafo afa-tsy indray mandeha sy tapany isan'andro na latsak'izay aza raha tsy hiresaka afa-tsy ny ao Tana sy ny manodidina fotsiny aza.”

“We need to find means and framework to let people express their opinions calmly without violence. We also need to find ways for those in power to learn to listen to the people's voices and to change their governing ways without violence if need be. The past and current situation clearly point to “hunger riots”. Do not forget that many people had been limited to eating a meal once a day or even less, in Antananarivo and its surroundings.”

This opinion is seconded by Nasolo Valiavo Andriamihaja , a well known columnist at the daily Express de Madagascar, who thinks the chaos was predictable based on Malagasy history. He makes a strong case for teaching people to think independently and resist being used for political purposes :

“Inona no nitondra amin’izao tampin-dalana izao ka tsy efa nosoratana teto hatramin’ny 2002 ? Inona no mbola hitranga manaraka ka tsy efa hita soritra hatramin’ny 2002 ? Kitaontaona azo nihodivirana tsara mihitsy ny hitsin-dalana noraisin’ny fitondran-dRavalomanana. “

Tsy tojo izao fidinana an-dalambe izao sahady indray ny firenena raha nanana fanetren-tena ny fitondrana. Teny natao tamin-dRatsiraka izany tamin’ny 2001, teny naverina tamin-dRavalomanana hatramin’ izay fito taona izay. Ny anay, izay tsy hikatsoan’ny fiainam-pirenena fotsiny ihany. Ny orinasa mamokatra soa aman-tsara, ny fivarotana mitady fivelomana, ny aina sy ny fananan’ny tsirairay tsy misy ahiana, ny mpiasa tsy lany andro mitokona, ny mpianatra tsy very taona, ny raharaha politika mizotra milamina amin’ny fifidianana voafetra mialoha. Fiainana tsy mila voatsiary fa moramora toa ny any Amerika : ny 4 novambra, isaky ny efa-taona ihany, no misy fifidianana Filoha.
Ny ahiahinay dia ny hiverenan’izao isan-taona, isam-bolana, raha isaky ny mahatsiaro dia hiantso korontana, hamory vahoaka. …
Raha mbola tsangan’olona hatrany no harahin’ny Malagasy dia tsy hisy fandrosoana eto na hanova Filoha isam-bolana aza isika. Tsy misy izany Mesia izany, tsy misy izany fahagagana izany, ary adala izay mino fotsiny ihany. Fitaizana voalohany tsy tanteraky ny antoko politika sy ny mpitaiza isan-tsokajiny (média, société civile, fiangonana, sekoly, raiamandreny) tao anatin’izay dimampolo taona naha Repoblika ny tany izay. Tsy ny fitaomana azy hidina an-dalambe, izay miafara amin’ny faty olona na fandravana fananana, no fitaizana tsara indrindra omena ny vahoaka. Hita izao fa izay mitaona azy hitokona androany, hifoterany hikomy rahampitso.
Ilay hoe demokrasia, tsy kabary fotsiny. Vahoaka ampy fahalalana no fototry ny demokrasia. Tsy mihinana amam-bolony, tsy mankatoa fahatany, tsy manaran-drian-drano. Vahoaka mifidy manavaka fa tsy mandatsa-bato fotsiny. Vahoaka mandinika fa tsy manao rebik’ondry (2). Tsy vita izany tamin’ny 1972, tsy vita tamin’ny 1991, tsy vita tamin’ny 2002, mbola tsy tanteraka ihany indray 2009. Tsy azo ataon’ny mpahalala ny milavo lefona fa fanabeazana tsy maintsy hirosoana io, satria tsy hisy fahagagana rahateo koa. Sanatria mantsy izany hoe ozona ho an’i Madagasikara ny toy izao.”

What led to this impasse that we did not already live through in 2002? What will happen that could not have already been predicted by 2002 events? Ravalomanana's governing led straight to this catastrophe and could have absolutely avoided.

If the government had had some humility, there would not be mass demonstrations so soon again in the country. These words cautioned Ratsiraka, (note of the author :the former president that fled the country in 2001, when mass demonstrations helped give the power to Ravalomanana), they have been repeated to Ravalomanana for the last seven years. We only want a smooth life with our factories producing, our commerce thriving, our lives and belongings safe, workers not wasting their time on strikes, students not wasting school years, political affairs peacefully going on based on scheduled election timetables. A simple and easy life like in America : on the fourth of november, every four years only, one goes to the polls to elect the President.
We fear the repetition of these unrests every year, every month, each time one feels like it, one will be calling for mayhem, calling for mass demonstrations.

If Malagasies keep on following personalities like this, there will never be progress even if we switch presidents on a monthly basis. There is no Messiah, no miracles, only fools just believe (note of the author : this verse taken from the bible, was Ravalomanana's political slogan in 2002). Political parties, mass media, civil society, the church, schools, parents, all have failed to educate during the last fifty republican years of our country. The best education you give your people is not by urging them to descend in the streets, resulting in deaths and looting. We now see that whoever leads the strike today, will be the butt of insurrection tomorrow.
Democracy is not just talk. Educated people are the basis of democracy. Educated people do not just blindly follow, obey and go with the flow. Educated people have a discerning mind, they do not just cast their ballots. We did not achieve this in 1972, 1991, 2002, and we will not achieve this either in 2009. Those in the know should not surrender, education is the only way, there will not be miracles. Because Madagascar has not been cursed to these [repeating turmoils].”

Meanwhile, others passionately regret that the Malagasy politicians, those in power and those in the opposition, will not be the ones suffering most from the crisis:

“Ny politika Malagasy moa izany dia efa mahazatra fa miala an`Ankatso dia Ambohidepona, ny mampalahelo dia na ny mpitondra amin`izao na ny mpanotra dia olona tsy tena mijaly na koa tsy tena nijaly tamin`ny 2002 na 1991. Mba tsinjonareo ireo ve ireny mpivarotra anana eny antsena sy mpianatra nandeha tongotra 30 km nandroso sy niverina nandeha nakao antananarivo, mba tsinjonareo ve ilay mpampianatra amin`ny EPP, mpampianatra iray mampianatra kilasy 5 no sady tale, mba tsijonareo ve ny olona voan`ny rivodoza mila fanampiana nefa tsy misy manampy, mba tsijonareo ve ny olona mitady ny hoaniny isanandrosanandro, mba tsinjonareo ve ny mpibata entana na reraka aza dia miasa hatrany….indrisy ny an`ny mpanao politika malagasy rehetra dia haka fitondrana mba hampiadanany ny tenany…
Izaho manokana dia “halako” izay olona mampijaly ny Malagasy na mpitondra io na mpanohitra, ireo mamitaka ny tsy mahalala sy manao tohatra iakarana ireo sahirana; na tsy afa miteny aza ireo dia ny tody tsy misy fa ny atao no miverina. Dia tena firenena voahozona ve i Madagasika, tsy misy afatsin`ny mifampidera hery ve ny ain`ny mpanao politika Malagasy.
TOkony mandeha mitazona angadin`omby kely aloha ireo mpitondra fanjakana sy mpanohitra ireo mba ahatsapana hoe mafy ny miasa mamelotena sy mitady ny ho anina isan`andro, ario ny akanjo mianjaika be ireny dia mba miloloava vary amin`ny gony hatero ho an`ny traboina.”

“Malagasy politics as usual offer no alternatives, the sad thing is that neither the current government nor the opposition really suffer from the situation, they did not suffer in 2002 and they did not suffer in 1991 either. Do you spare a thought for those who sell vegetables at the market, the students who walk thirty kilometers back and forth to attend school in Antananarivo, the teacher of the state elementary schools, who teaches five classes and the school has no principal, do you spare a thought for the victims of cyclones who get no assistance, those who have to find their food on a daily basis, those who carry who work even when exhausted… alas Malagasy politicians only want to grab power to enrich themselves…
I “hate” people who make Malagasies suffer, the current president and opposition leaders included, those who cheat the uneducated and use the poor as a means to an end, they only know to show off their strengths. They should go try working with a spade so they will know how hard it is to sustain oneself and find one's sustenance every day, trash your fancy clothes and carry rice bags on your heads to give to the disaster stricken!”

And Tomavana laments that in all this chaos, the victims of cyclones which have last week devastated entire cities have all but been forgotten.

“Inona moa izany fa andro iray fanampiny tsy ahafahan’ireo traboina miantehitra afatsy amin’ny tenany ihany indray iny andro iray iny. Inona intsony koa moa no ambarako eo afatsy ny hoe raha mbola zo atao … dia aza mba mipetraka any amin’ny faritany ihany zalahy e !”

“What else was it but another day when the disaster stricken had again to count on themselves only. What else can I say, if you can do it, stay away from the provinces ! “
  • kysamo

    Madagascar is lovely place

    People are confused hear for no reason

    I am confused of the situation

    The Madagascar people should all take it calm and easy
    (no violence)

    I have no other comment.

  • Ira Bass

    Having lived and worked in Madagascar and married a malagasy girl, I am deeply saddened by the recent events in Madagascar. I was hoping that with a Western educated new President that chose to put his money back into the country rather than in Swiss bank accounts the country would show some progress towards the 21st Centry. It seems that a segment of the Malagasy population had rather slash and burn instead of working for the betterment of all. Goodby progress, hello anarchy!

  • malagasy

    Malagasy people, you are known as very peacefull! Keep this image.Don’t loose believe in Peace and democratic government! Madagascar reached a lot in the last years! The speed of development was not to compare with no other african country. THis you have done together with the government, together with poor and wealthy people! Every body with the same ideal “Do the best for the prosperity of Madagascar, for making the life here the one that peaceful and educated people deserve.
    Just I know only by this governemnt we got the big projects, and the altitude of Malagasy. To be proud that of malagasy nationality! To be proud to speak malagasy language! Now you are asked to support your government, your president, because he is again the only one hope to put the country out of the anarchy and chaos! And i belive, no i am sure he is the one who can do it! Belive in him, Believe in the Peace in Madagascar!
    The guys below of Mayor is the ancien political men, what they did during the time in governement??
    It’s as distrouble only the life of Malagasy and put the society Malagasy in the true povrety.
    They’ll have a food and whatever they need but the people will have nothing, no work, the food will be high the price. Now just after two day the price of rice, oil already incrise!!!Andry Rajoelina, and his gang of robbers and killers, left from all the prisons from Madagascar dream to send Madagascar back with min 10 years. All what was done here the las years, all the prosperity, all the development, all the coming investors inklusive Cheraton ( not an easy to convince investor)he put it down in 2 days! Now we have to save what is left! We have to bring back the peace and the government, because what is a country without its president, democraticly choosen!!!
    We have to bring back the peace
    If not, we’ll live like the other African faithing every times like zimbabwe, congo or rowanda. Pray for peace and for the president, he can do it and we must trust him! Be wise and trust your government!

  • http://twitter.com/haritia ranjaramanana soaharitia

    mankasitraka amin’ny fitaterana sy famakafakana ataonareo e!

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  • Radison

    The President is scorning the appeal of large majority of poors in Madagascar compounded by rural. Why foreigners can get Land for a few months and larger than the rural or simple citizen waiting for decade without response?

    Why the Constitution is not follow by its rules from the President and the HCC : if a citizen remarks a diffrence enforcement of the Constitution, the HCC had to give him response personaly or publicly.

  • http://www.madagaskar-vision.de Harald Kreutzer

    It’s not only EDUCATION – it’s also PARTICIPATION IN DEMOCRACY and letting the sovereign, the people, better participate and control the parliament and the malagasy government.

    Like in most other countries voters are heavily involved in politics when it comes to casting the ballot. Politicians interest for their voters needs very often diminish after they have been elected.

    Madagascar has an almost free press (shutting down VIVA-TV is a counter-example), but no serious communication between the people and the parliament and the government after the elections. This has of course something to do with costs – but also with not enough interest on side of politics.

    In Germany people have a possibility to communicate with parliamentarians and ask questions by internet (WWW.ABGEORDNETENWATCH.DE – winner of Top 10 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics http://www.politicsonline.com/content/main/specialreports/2008/top10_2008/vote.asp). It is known, accepted and questions being put up by citizens are being answered because politicians know that http://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de has a reputation and leaving to many questions unanswered looks like they are not taking their work seriously.

    Madagascar needs a new way of a better participation of people into political processes. Internet can be one of the solutions because it is almost free of cost and decentralised.

    Barack Obamas presidential campaign has shown that it is possibly to involve supporters financially and logistically.

    –> WHY NOT TRYING TO INVOLVE MORE MALAGASY INTO POLITICS BY INTERNET?

    (sorry for capitalisation of central messages…)

    • Guest

      Harald Kreutzer, that wouldn’t have same impact as in Germany, you are comparing a two completely different countries. Internet costs are still high in Madagascar. High means monthly costs of internet access are higher than 90% of population monthly salary! Also it’s high even for Germany, normal broadband access which costs about 15 euros there costs about 100 euros in Madagascar. Majority of population is poor and doesn’t have education and possibility to participate or organize such kind of things.

      • Jonathan Miller

        I also wonder why the internet access fee must be so high. But even if it were low, it would be a very long road to education of the general public. It’s certainly an important first step.
        I am following the developments now with a sad heart because I had the good fortune to spend over three weeks there in October.
        I was shocked to see the amount of Tavey (slash and burn) still going on then, and I can only assume that it will be worse now.
        My visits to the beautiful protected areas and forests allowed me to see hundreds of rare species.
        About preserving the ecology: I was able to speak with a head ranger of the largest remaining rainforest who explained how few men he had to police the poaching.
        Ideas are cheap-implimentation hard – but I suggested that if they could harvest and sell rare woods at a fair world price (instead of for pennies to middlemen as now) this revenue would more than pay for the extra police.
        Jonathan

      • http://www.madagaskar-vision.de Harald Kreutzer

        Dear Guest,
        Madagascar and Germany are of course not comparable regarding their internet structure, but it is not necessary to have broadband access to use the internet as a medium of exchange of opinions. People largely used/use internet cafés (cyber cafés) during the peak of the conflict. It’s not necessary that 100% get involved. Better 15% get more involved by new medias than 3% without new medias. Internet is of course only one step and not the solution to all problems – but it is a good starting point! If you compare activities of bloggers and other internet users for instance nowadays and before the conflict it seems to me that bloggers are much more involved in political discussions and they are more aware that they have power to influence processes to some extent. That’s a very good thing in my opinion!

      • janine delima

        what your saying its tru but what we can do my self i have computer from 2007 but up 2 know i cant put connection to my house because its realy expensive i feel sorry for myself

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