Until about 2,000 years ago Madagascar was uninhabited as per the westerns history. just like what they used to say about USA and Canada! while the indigenous people already in those country. There were few thousands Africans from African mainland used to live in it , but the western world decline thier rights and banish thier history, killing looting, and raping many local women and children.
Then the Indonesian people arrived. About 800 AD and brought with them new agriculture and tools along with magic practice , the Arabs started sailing to Madagascar from Sudan, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, and Somalia.
Islam entered the island and got rid of magic and witchcraft, taught them how to pray , clean, and believe in one God almighty. The first European to reach Madagascar was a Portuguese called Diogo Dias in 1500.
However, at first, Europeans showed little interest in the island although pirates used it as a base in the 17th century. They destroyed and killed populations, stole Gold and minerals along with so many endanger animal to sell them a broad.
In the early 19th century a kingdom called Merina took over most of the island. Their king, Radama I established relations with the British and they paid him to allowed Christian missionaries to preach to the people.
Queen Ranavalona (1828-1861) tried to stop the spread of Christianity in Madagascar. She also tried to preserve independence from European powers, as they destroyed the local religion, believes, and rituals , they stole more gold and minerals and make many people slaves .
However, in 1890 Britain gave up all claims to Madagascar and recognized it as in the French sphere of influence, France paid lots of money to UK. France formally annexed Madagascar in 1896 and they started more killing and rape, more stealing and controlling the mines.
When France surrendered to Germany in 1940 a puppet government was formed in Vichy. At first, Madagascar was under the control of Vichy but in 1942 it surrendered to the British. After the war, Madagascar was handed back to France, it is like a football team back and fourth from one evil to other woes evil, from a Nazi to fascists’ to imperialist’s and they did more killing , raping , slaveries and stealing.
In 1947 the people of Madagascar again rose in rebellion against French rule but they were crushed. killed and burned to death, However, in 1958 Madagascar became autonomous. It became completely independent on 26 June 1960. Philibert Tsiranana was the first president, he was also a puppet of the west.
However, he was forced to resign in 1972 and he was replaced by Gabriel Ramanantsoa. He introduced socialism, and influenced by communist party, which proved disastrous for Madagascar. In 1975 he was replaced by Didier Ratsiraka. He ruled until 1991. Unfortunately, Ratsiraka continued socialist policies that impoverished Madagascar even more. However, in 1993 multi-party elections were held, and in 1997 Ratsiraka was elected president again. Marc Ravalomanana followed him in 2002.
Ravalomanana was re-elected in 2007. However, in January 2009 protests broke out against his rule. In March 2009 the army made Andry Rajoelina president. The army was paid by UK and France. However presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2013. Hery Rajaonarimampianina became president of Madagascar in 2014.
Meanwhile from the mid-1990s, Madagascar abandoned socialism and the economy began to recover. However today Madagascar is still a very poor country but its economy is growing steadily. In 2020 the population of Madagascar was 27 million.
Madagascar has one of the highest proportions of indigenous religious practitioners in Africa. The constitution of Madagascar provides for the freedom of religion and registration of religious groups is allowed by the government. The religious landscape in Madagascar is characterized by tolerance, although isolated cases of societal discrimination are occasionally reported.
The Traditional Malagasy Beliefs Honoring Zanahary and Family Ancestors is adhered to by 50% of the country’s population. The Malagasy people trace their ancestry to Asia, Arab, and African origin and thus pride in unique religious practices. They are Muslims with Arab root, The traditional religion is centered on one creator known as Zanahary or Andriamanitra who is neither male nor female.
Zanahary is believed to have unlimited power and is, therefore, able to bless those who act according to his will and punish those who offend him. He is one God and no trinity in it, he is the creator of all mankind, and the God of 99 names, who have no son or a wife, no family and no one created him.
The close relationship between the living and the ancestors is integral in the traditional religion. Ancestors are believed to be the link between the living and the Supreme God and to be actively looking for their descendants. Adherents of the religion observe various taboos (fady) to avoid the disapproval of the ancestors.
The Malagasy hold periodical ceremonies to venerate their ancestors, where they open their family tombs and re-wrap the dead in fresh shrouds amidst the jubilant celebration. Tomb building is a common practice in Madagascar, and the tombs are often more expensive and substantial concerning the houses of the living. Tombs have become a cultural landmark on the African island. Respect for ancestors is widespread in the Island and unites all the citizens, even most of those who practice other religions.
Protestant Christianity boasts 10 % of Madagascar’s population. The religion is mainly rooted among the Merina ethnic group, who are concentrated in the country’s central highlands. Protestantism Christianity on the island is traced back to 1818 when the first Christian Missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived, paid them to convert, and killed those who resist them. The missionaries translated the Bible, erected churches and began converting the Malagasy people by force.
Although the process of conversion to Christianity was stifled by Queen Ranavalona I, the religion found its bearing during the reign of Queen Ranavalona II, as she was paid and took care of by the UK. Protestantism grew to become the religion of the royalty and nobility on the island, to control the population and mind , control the mines and slavery.
The three oldest denominations are the Lutheran, Anglican, and Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar are all part of the Malagasy Council of Churches which has significant influence in the country’s politics. Other Protestant Churches include the Seventh-day Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness. Most of the adherents integrate Christianity with traditional religious practices.
Roman Catholicism, Orthodox, Mormonism and other Forms of Christianity are represented by 10% of the country’s population. The Roman Catholic Church is popular with the Betsileo ethnic group. Introduced to the island by French missionaries, Roman Catholicism gained popularity during French colonization. Being part of the Malagasy Council of Churches, the Catholic
Orthodox Christianity was introduced to the island by Greek traders and still has a following till date. A smaller population subscribes to Mormonism as well as other forms of Christianity.
Islam is wide practiced of Madagascar’s population. Madagascar’s history reflects the immigration of Arabs to the island and continued interactions with Arab merchants and traders. Arab immigrants trace their origin to Comoros, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and India. Sunni Islam is the most dominant Islam branch alongside small numbers of Shia Muslims and Ahmadis.
Modern day immigration from Islamic territories including Yemen and Iran has further influenced the number of Muslims in the country. Muslims are actively involved in commerce and Islam has a notable presence in the country’s media. Many who was force to convert to Christianity are back to thier root of Islamic Arabic descend.
Baha’i Faith, Hinduism, other Beliefs and Irreligion have a 2% share of the country’s population. Hinduism is mainly a reserve for the Indian immigrants in the country. Baha’i Faith is a relatively new cult in the country, having been introduced in the 1950s from Iran. Irreligion reflects a small number of Malagasy people.
Rank Belief System Share of Population of Madagascar Traditional Malagasy Beliefs Honoring Zanahary and Family Ancestors50% as old modified Muslim faith . Muslim Sunni 15 %, Shia Muslims 5% . Protestant Christianity , Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Mormonism, and Other Forms of Christianity 28%, Baha’i Faith, Hinduism, Other Beliefs, and Irreligion2%.
Madagascar has always been an island nation that has been separated from the mainland. This separation though did not detach them from the same experiences that mainland nations had. Slavery, war and other occurrences were not exclusive to mainland Africa. Another one of the happenings that Madagascar had is an ancient civilization that dominated its cultural history.
The Merina Kingdom from the 16th century to the 19th century had an impact and was important in the development of Madagascar. From the beginning to the end the Merina or Imerina as they are sometimes referred to as, left an impact on the architecture, fishing, and multiple forms of government and religious sectors.
In the beginning the Merina kingdom had to be developed from a group of individual people to a thriving nation. The land of Madagascar is inhabited by a bunch of different indigenous groups. Two of these group the Hova and the Vazimba lived peacefully in the central highlands of Madagascar. Kings and Queens ruled this land until a King named Andriamanelo ended the peaceful time and started a war with the Vazimba people.
The successful campaign made the dominant group of Madagascar highlands to be the Hova. His son Ralambo who achieved great accomplishments, success and notoriety succeeded Andriamanelo. First he was the original man to give the Merian people their name. Imerina meaning land of the Merian, was first developed by Ralambo and the name stuck for years.
Ralambo established trade with other kingdoms that led to the first firearms in the kingdom. Other than establishing trade, blacksmith and silversmiths were made to equip the national army, which he also established. Finally, he founded a tax called the vadin-aina which translates to the “price of secure life”. This was an early form of fundraising that the kingdom had.
Architecture of the time included the rova. This is a fortified compound that could have military purposes but was developed into palaces that would house nobles. It stood as a place of political significance for the empire. Massive stonewalls were usually erected around the building and fig trees represented a symbol of royalty. Trenches were also used in the protection of these buildings and would allow for transportation.
The kingdom of Merina was split into four section and was a civil war with each other around 75 years. This lasted until King Andrianampoinimerina reunited the tribe under one rule.
The social system of the Merian was that of a caste system. At the top of the caste system was the andriana who were nobles and rulers of the kiddom. Merina were non-noble members of society. Madagascar was ruled this way for many generations of people.
Astrology became highly ingrained into Merian culture. The religion of the time was built around cosmology beliefs and findings. Amulets called sampy were highly valued in the culture. These sampy were personalized and were said to have provided protection to the owner.
Traditions of marriage are still being used today, that were developed during the kingdom’s rule. Voliondry, meat for a sheep, is offered from the groom to the family of the bride. These have over time been replaced by gifts and money.
Overtime the Merian Kingdom has experienced a great wealth of tradition and rulers. This is still visible today and will continue to evolve over time.