59 years ago today, Madagascar became a fully independent and sovereign state from French rule. A series of events led to this point.
The Franco-Hova Wars or Franco-Malagasy Wars between 1883-1886 were military interventions that led to the overthrow of the monarchy of the Merina Kingdom and led to Madagascar becoming a French colony. This remained the case until Madagascar gained independence in 1960. In 1947, there was a nationalist uprising which ended after several months but led to loss of lives. By 1956, the French created reformed institutions to aid in moving Madagascar towards becoming an independent state.
The republic of Malagasy was declared on October 14, 1958 within the French community and the country gained full independence on June 26, 1960.
To mark Madagascar’s independence, here are some amazing facts.
- Madagascar is known as the 8th continent of the world
A country like no other, a scenic tourist destination, the fourth largest island in the world and home to lemurs and other species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, Madagascar’s uniqueness has led some to class it as the Eight continent.
- Men and women wear the same traditional clothing.
The Lamba is the traditional garment worn by both men and women. The word “lamba” itself simply means ‘cloth’ or ‘clothing’. It is a rectangular piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body.
- Home to thousands of species of animals that cannot be found anywhere else on earth
Madagascar’s wildlife reflects that over 160 million years ago, the island was isolated from the African continent. Leading to wonderfully bizarre and extraordinary animals and plant species that have evolved over time. Some of the animals known to only live in Madagascar include numerous sub species of lemurs such as the Ring tailed lemur, Red-ruffed lemur and the Red-fronted brown lemur. Other animals include Flying foxes which are bats that feed on fruit, the narrow striped mongoose and Tenrecs which are unusual insectivores.
- Some Malagasy’s are animists
Although majority of the Malagasy population is Christian (Catholic or Protestant) which was introduced by missionaries, the Malagasy have not forgotten their traditional animist beliefs. The Malagasy for example often refer to a single god/creator of the world called Zanahary and many continue to make reference to ancestors.
- Bare knuckle boxing is a national sport
Moraingy also known as Malagasy boxing is an official sport on the island. It involves no weapons or body protection just mere bare knuckle fighting. Scratching, pinching, hair pulling and striking vital points of one’s body is forbidden. Its origins have been traced back to the 15th century. The sport holds the shortest round duration among global fighting sports.
- Ethnically diverse
Madagascar is richly populated by people from diverse backgrounds. Traditions and culture across the island reflect the influence of Arab, Indian, British, French and Chinese settlers.
- Incredible food
With the island being influenced by French, Indian, African and Arabic cultures. The food is different from the staples of other African countries. With the exception of lots and lots of rice, flavour combinations include ginger, garlic, vanilla and curry powder. A common dish is lasary which is made from tomatoes and green onions and is used a side dish or sandwich filling.
Featured image | Moraingy, a traditional sport in Madagascar | wikimedia commons
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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