Every March 29, Madagascar commemorates the 1947 insurrection against the French colonial army. An uprising that claimed thousands of lives.
This is a historic event and full of symbolism for the Malagasy. “March 29 is some sort of redemption for us. The same redemption of our ancestors because it is the date that led us to independence.” said Benson, a young musician.
The struggle for independence was led by the Democratic Movement for Malagasy Renewal (MDRM) with the goal of winning three seats in the French legislature.
I assume (they) were beheaded just like my own grandparents. The blood spurted to the ceiling.
Their ultimate goal was independence. Despite making strides, the political landscape in Madagascar remained unstable.
On March 29, 1947, Malagasy nationalists revolted against the French. Although the uprising eventually spread over one-third of the island, the French were able to restore order after reinforcements arrived from France.
It is was a tragedy which Jean Robert, a former member of parliament recalls.
“My father was in prison and we stayed in the family home at Farafangana. My father told me that he saw doctors who were beheaded. My father’s friends, who were lawyers, I assume were beheaded just like my own grandparents. The blood spurted to the ceiling,’‘ he said.
It took a year for colonial troops to defeat the guerrillas. Some of the leaders of the independence movement were placed under arrest.
They had been sentenced to death after being stripped of their parliamentary immunity, a sentence later changed to life imprisonment.
Today, historians are struggling to agree on the number of victims, whose numbers vary between 80 000 and 100 000 deaths. Whatever the number, the Malagasy are reading this page in their history as both a tragedy and a symbol of liberation.