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Home Editorial Madagate Affiche Ranavalona III. Never forget the Last Queen of Madagascar

Ranavalona III. Never forget the Last Queen of Madagascar

Hery Rajaonarimampianina, current Malagasy president totally seems to want to evade the History of Madagascar, since he was elected. Not me.


Ranavalona III (November 22, 1861-May 23, 1917) was the last Sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar. She ruled from July 30, 1883 to February 28, 1897 in a reign marked by ongoing and ultimately futile efforts to resist the colonial designs of the government of France.


Razafindrahety (Razafy) was her maiden name. She was born at Amparibe, a rural village in the district of Manjakazafy outside Antananarivo, on November 22, 1861, and she was the daughter of Andriatsimianatra and Princess Ramanetaka. She was a niece to Queen Ranavalona III and a great-granddaughter of King Andrianampoinimerina. She was selected from among several andriana (nobles) qualified to succeed Queen Ranavalona II upon her death. As a young woman, she married an andriana (nobleman) named Ratrimo. Her husband died several years afterwards on May 8, 1883, at age 22, leaving Razafindrahety a premature widow.


Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony and the Queen Ranavalona III

Upon the death of Ranavalona II, on, july 30, 1883, she was proclaimed as Queen Ranavalona III. Like both preceding queens, she entered into a political marriage with a member of the Hova (freeman) elite named Rainilaiarivony who, in his role as Prime Minister of Madagascar, largely oversaw the day-to-day governance of the kingdom and managed its foreign affairs.

Throughout her reign, Ranavalona utilized diverse tactics such as strengthening trade and diplomatic relations with the United States and Great Britain in the hope of staving off impending colonization. However, French attacks on coastal port towns and an assault on the capital of city of Antananarivo ultimately led to the capture of the royal palace in 1896, thereby ending the sovereignty and political autonomy of the century-old kingdom.

For three days, the Malagasy Army managed to hold the French troops at the periphery of the city, but upon french bombardment of the Rova place compound with heavy artillery, she agreed to surrender control of her Kingdom to the French. France officially annexed Madagascar on January 1, 1896. Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony died that same year, on 17 July. Joseph Gallieni exiled Queen Ranavalona III from Madagascar on January 28, 1897, and officially abolished the Monarchy the next day. It was the end of the four hundred year old Merina monarchy.


Shortly, French exiled the Queen to the Island of Reunion. But, the newly installed French colonial government promptly exiled Rainilaiarivony in Algeria, while Ranavalona III and her court were initially permitted to remain behind as symbolic figureheads. On February 1, 1899, aboard the ship "Yang-Tse" Ranavalona and several members of her family were relocated to a villa in Algiers. She received the first of many authorizations to visit France.

Edouard Herriot was the Mayor of the city of Lyon, France

The queen and the family and servants accompanying her were provided an allowance and enjoyed a comfortable standard of living, including occasional trips to Paris for shopping and sightseeing.

Last photo of The Queen Ranavalona III in her carrosse in France

Despite Ranavalona's repeated requests, the queen and her entourage were never permitted to return home to Madagascar. Ranavalona died of an embolism at her villa in Algiers, on May 23, 1917, at the age of 55.

Her remains were buried in Algiers but were disinterred 21 years later and shipped to Madagascar, in November 1938 where they were placed within the tomb of Queen Rasoherina on the grounds of the Rova of Antananarivo. A fire on the night of 6 November 1995 severely damaged the royal tombs and destroyed most of the other buildings at the site. The lamba-wrapped  remains of Ranavalona III were the only ones that could be saved from the flames. These have since been re-interred in the royal tombs at Ambohimanga Rova, place of birth of the King Andrianampoinimerina.


Andy Razaf

Don’t forget also: the African American poet, composer and lyricist Andy Razaf (Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo), born in Washington D.C. on December 16, 1895, was her grand-nephew. He was the son of Henri Razafinkarefo, nephew of Queen Ranavalona III and Jennie Waller Razafinkarefo, daughter of John L. Waller, the first African American consul to Madagacar. Andy Razaf died from cancer on February 3, 1973 at North Hollywood, California.

In United States, the Songwriters Hall of Fame entry on Andy Razaf lists 215 compositions, giving co-writers and publishers. He had many unpublished songs; Singer's biography lists more than 800, published and unpublished (but without giving lyrics). (Wikipedia)

Jeannot Ramambazafy’s text

Source: wikipedia

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