Madagascar: English as an Official Language, Tribute to Victims of Colonial Conflicts and Cyclones (Again)

Busy couple of weeks in terms of news in Madagascar: 3 items were particularly
discussed among Malagasy bloggers:

1) A referendum on the constitution is currently on the way in
Madagascar. The question that Malagasy will have to answer is as follows:

“Acceptez-vous ce projet de révision de la Constitution pour le développement rapide et durable par région, afin d'améliorer le niveau de vie des Malgaches?”.

“Do you accept the revision project of the Constitution for the regional sustainable and rapid development, in order to ameliorate the quality of life of Malagasies ?”

One of the proposal of the referendum concerns the implementation of the initiative called MAP. This acronym is a double play-on-word that emphasizes the new direction that president Marc Ravalomanana wants to give for Madagascar. MAP stands for Madagascar Action Plan but also for Malagasy AmPerin'asa. As a matter of fact, one of the amendment to the
constitution that is proposed is the addition of English as an official language. This would be a critical step for Madagascar in its
willingness to open its market to a broader spectrum. It is of course a proposal not free of controversy because language has often been a subject of controversy in Madagascar. 30 years ago, Madagascar underwent a proposal that placed Malagasy as the only official language. It was seen back then as an attempt from Madagascar to distance itself
from French influence. Today, the addition of English and the
reaffirmation of Malagasy as the language of choice will probably be
perceived as slight against France again. Manny and other bloggers are not quite sure how to vote and what to make of this addition of English as an official language. Elodieriana writes:

3 langues officielles….vivement la traduction des documents officiels…traduction de la constitution entres autres avec 3 colonnes?

3 official languages….can't wait for the translation of the official documents….so translation of the constitution among other things in 3 columns ?

Many bloggers are also not quite sure what to make of this “MAP-thing”, another
critical point of the referendum: Mikozatra writes that many
may have not read the MAP entirely but the presentation
of the
document is surely well-done, as this radio host's confession can attest:

En première page donc Plan d’action Madagascar 2007-2012
Plan Audacieux (avec un grand A) pour le développement rapide.
Et la photo d’un jeune garcon, trés bien, joli sourire, dentition
parfaite. A l’intérieur, ll y a plein de photos également, un véritable
diaporama du président en campagne, à la campagne, et des malgaches, de
paysages, la flore.. tiens pas de lémuriens ?

On the first page, Plan of Action for 2007-2012- Audacious plan for a
rapid development. Nice picture of a yougn man, nice smile, perfect
teeth. Inside, lots of photos, a true slideshow of the president on the
campaign trail with Malagasies, landscapes and flora….hum, no lemurs,
he ?

The refenredum early polls have come out and suspicions are already
arising in newspapers regarding the validity of the results.

2) Madagascar paid tribute to the memory of thousand of victims of the
“March,29th insurrection” against French occupation. The bloodshed that
day was such a cataclysm that French newspaper “Le Monde” classified it as one of the most disastrous conflicts during French colonization.

…soulèvement qui fut l’une des premières manifestations nationalistes dans l’empire français. La répression, avec près de 100 000 morts un des grands massacres coloniaux de l’après-guerre, sur lequel la France a étendu un voile de silence , a fauché toute une génération de cadres malgaches

…uprising was one of the first nationalist manifestations in the French empire. The repression, with close to 100,000 deaths, one of the great colonial massacre of the post-war era, upon which France blanketed a veil of silence, also terminated a whole generation of Malagasy leaders.

Malagasy bloggers also paid tribute to the victims by collecting
the most heartfelt pieces written about those events, most of them were compiled by Nivo here.
3) Finally, yet another cyclone hit the island this week. Jayla is the name of the most recent one and it is one the 6th of its kind within the last 6 months, each one of them as damaging the next one. Official statements reports 8 deaths and the fact that ½ of the town of Sambava is devastated.


  • mumo mutinda

    Go ahead and make english the second official language after malagasy.French is a dying language.Any country sticking to it will be doomed. English is the international language of the world. With French you are limiting yourself.Rwanda has just replaced French with English, and many countries are following suite.

  • Jacoby Carter

    I understand most of the changes, but what prompted the removal of the phrase ‘secular state’ from the constitution? Are they going to propose a state religion?

  • Bitsy

    french is so not a dying language!

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.