What Independence ?

Like every year on the 26th of June, Madagascar has celebrated with great fanfare its anniversary of independence day just 2 weeks before the Americans’ 4th of July. What major changes were done within these years, what the independence brought to this country, where is its place in the running globalization nowadays ?

flag from r1lita

The independence day must be the most popular day off after Christmas; flying of the national flag, crowded market place with kids playing Chinese stuffs, obviously it’s a day under the sign of festivity. Time also for citizens to revise the national anthem lyrics and for the media to broadcast documentary about decolonization as to remind us history by recounting the processes which led to the famous day of 1960. These facts show clearly how Malagasy people likewise the Americans are patriotic if not only judging the crowd who assists the firework show and the traditional military parade. Indeed, like many free and independent countries we have our own army with many top-ranked generals and thousands of recruits regardless their obsolete materials and second hand guns. Because the army represents the sovereignty of a country, we should be proud of ours. It is a truism that Malagasy citizens feel themselves independent and proudly celebrate this freedom; only when asked if it is a full autonomy or just a façade do we begin to realize the haze surrounding Madagascar independence. A black cloud of ignorance, of misconception and naiveté.

The biggest similarity between the independence of any former colonized countries is that the desire for independence stemmed from discontent over maltreatment and the unbearable idea that a foreign nation plunder the resources of another nation . This is the case with every drive for independence in history. Cruelty and oppression by the ruler leads to discontentment among the ruled. If this discontent reaches a high enough level, the ruled rebel and strive to rule themselves. While their methods for doing this were different, there is no exception to the above pattern with India and Africa or the United States in 1776. How diverse these differences are, Madagascar‘s path as for the America’s road to independence followed the general outline of all movements for independence in history.

In March 29, 1947, nationalists revolted against the French. Although the uprising eventually spread over one-third of the island, but French were able to restore order after reinforcements arrived from France. Casualties among the Malagasy were estimated in the 80,000 range. The group of leaders responsible for the uprising, which came to be referred to as the Revolt of 1947, never has been identified conclusively, in addition to that the MDRM denied its implication. Despite the fact that the Malagasy case has inspired other countries like Algeria and Vietnam this sudden revolt was never been considered as the trigger to independence. Instead, we have to wait till 1956 after a France defeated in Indochine and an Europe weakened by WWII that a law called ‘loi-cadre’ was enacted by the French government which gave progressive decentralization of power to Malagasy. A referendum was held in September 28,1958 to determine whether the country should become a self-governing republic within the French community. After the disguised election, it is said that the vast majority of the population voted in favour of the referendum. The vote led to the election of Philbert Tsiranana as the country’s first president. After a year of negotiations between Tsiranana and his French counterparts, Madagascar’s status as a self-governing republic was altered on June 26,1960, to that of a fully independent and sovereign state. It is obvious then that there were no clear claims and greed from Malagasy people to snatch freedom from the colonizer. The result is no surprise with a puppet post-colonial regime, an economy depending mainly on the metropolitan France, a second overseas territory as Sékou Touré, the first President of Guinea, who voted against “the French Community” said.

Mounting economic stagnation–as revealed in scarcities of investment capital, a general decline in living standards, and the failure to meet even modest development goals–further undermined Tsiranana’s government’s position in 1972.The ascension of Ratsiraka into power in 1975 was very promising, with a patriotic motto: “Madagascar will never kneel”. Indeed, he embraced a socialism way of developing the country through nationalization of all former French vital industries; reminding us Kwaneh Nkrumah who emphasized on the idea of having state ownership and control of the infrastructure had the underlying objective of avoiding foreign ownership of vital factors of production. However, how hopeful as it seemed, the State fell into debt and practiced ‘excessive investment’.The petrol crisis during the 80 and the fall of raw material price caused a rapid regression of democracy with raising of corruption. Ratsiraka became a French-backed leader, a despot and Kleptocrat. The upraise in 1991 didn’t change nothing to the disease what the country suffered from.The population’s standard of living continue to deteriorate that the government at that time counselled by IMF opted for “currency depreciation “ who lost 60% of its value. The State is coerced by World Bank to disengage from productive sectors leading to a policy of privatization. Foreign investors rush to settle in the country which resulted the Free zone industries (low cost labour) that still developing even today. Up-to-now Madagascar can never get away from international aid which undermine our own economy and security rather than boosting it. In fact, financial aid from WB/IMF can’t be obtained unless the country accept the structural adjustments beneficial to the loaner interests but catastrophic for the borrower. Such practice is commonly known as Neo-colonialism, a method to control poor nations by indirect ways. In his book, “Neo Colonialism:The Last Stage of Imperialism” Nkrumah presented the notion of Neo-Colonialism, the situation where the pattern of relationships between former metropolitan power and its former colony remained unchanged even after the attainment of Independence, basically Colonialism without accountability.

The coming of Ravalomanana Marc on power, who is the only non-PADESM president ever since made us to believe on a real full independence and on an ideal to become the dragon of Indian ocean but how misplaced our bliss was. He didn’t even claim for an official apology from France during Chirac visit to Madagascar in 2005 for all they have done to the country. He is is toppled on the basis that he sells land to foreigners, disregards the interests of the nation, favoured Exon Mobil instead of Total. In other words, the colonizers change their name but their methods stay the same, the same old shit survive through different regimes. It started with slavery, colonization, neocolonisation and now the dystopic words “globalization”.


~ by tolotra on June 29, 2009.

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