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Madagascar: Saluting Rado, a Poet Legend

The Malagasy blogosphere is unanimous in saluting the passing of Rado, the renowned Malagasy poet.
Jentilisa writes a detailed biography :

“Zanaka mpitandrina ny tenany, teraka tamin'ny 1 oktobra 1923 (tapabolana sisa manko) ary Ankadivato ilay fonenana nahalehibe azy. Notezaina tanatin'ny fitiavana an'Andriamanitra sy ny tanindrazana tahaka ireo hafa novolavolaina tanaty lasitra protestanta nandritra ny fanjanahantany”

“He was born, Georges Andriamanantena, on October 1, 1923, the son of a Protestant priest in Ankadivato (a neighborhood of Antananarivo). He was brought up in the respect and love of God and country, in the Protestant tradition that prevailed during the colonization times.”

On his father's side, he descended from a long lineage of Protestant priests (fifth generation), and as tebokaefatra says, on his mother's side, he descended from the village of Amboanana, which was

“…ilay vohitra kely ao atsimon'Arivonimamo, izay nisehoan'ireo Menalamba sahy nanohitra voalohany indrindra ny Fanjanahantany teto Madagasikara. Araka izany koa dia mba nandova ny ran'ireo tia tanindrazana tsy nanaiky hozogain'ny vahiny.”

“…the little village south of Arivonimamo, where originated the Menalamba, the fiercest and first opponents of colonization in Madagascar. Rado inherited the patriotism of his forebearers who refused foreigners’ rule. “

As many Protestant youth then, he belonged to the scoutism movement, and his father strengthened the values provided by it, with the “fireside” education held at home, where a love of the Malagasy language and appreciation of the arts blossomed in him and his siblings. He studied in various Protestant schools in the capital and then went to Strasbourg, France to study journalism. He valued his independence and even though he held a well paying job for a time at the then important Preservatrice ASsurances in Antananarivo, he resigned that job and preferred to found his own newspaper “Hehy”, with his brother Celestin. He later worked for the Ministry of Culture.

He showed multiple talents and tried his hand at painting, sculpting and engraving. He also composed religious hymns, showing here his Christian upbringing. But he is mostly well known for the poems he never ceased to write, until he was physically unable to do so.

He published ten books of poems, among which Dinitra (1973), Ando (1977), Zo (1989), Sedra (1993), Ny teny Malagasy (1994), tsy maintsy mipoaka ny sarom-bilany (2002, ny Voninkazo adaladala (2003) and ny fiteny roa (2008). Many of his poems were put into music by the most famous of Malagasy artists. And Dinitra was compulsory reading in high schools. Vola posts one of his poems which was adapted into a song by many artists.

He enjoyed fishing and playing with his grandchildren. He was a proud recipient of most Malagasy honor marks.

Most importantly, Rado was a staunch supporter of the Malagasy language and supported “Fanagasiana“, or the use of Malagasy (instead of French) in education. Fanagasiana failed mainly because of political games that politicians played on the student population. Rabelazao posts the entirety of a talk Rado held at the Malagasy Academy of Sciences in Antananarivo, where Rado explains why Malagasy (and not Malagasy mixed with foreign words) is the best language for communicating development goals and win the Malagasy population's hearts and support.

“…ny fo no tanamilina ao anatin'ny olona, ka manentana ary manome azy toetra entiny miatrika toe-javatra iray. Ny enti-manentana ny fo kosa anefa, dia ny Teny ihany.
Koa raha te hanentana ny fon'ny vahoaka amin'ny Fampandrosoana isika dia ny Teny Malagasy ihany no afaka manao izany. Dia teny malagasy madio, tsy safiotra na vandambadana. Teny malagasy feno ohatrohatra amana ohabolana sy hainteny, fa ireny no mamoha varavarana ny fo. “

“One is led by one's heart, which motivates and decides its point of view of things. What motivates the heart is the Word. So if you want to motivate people's heart with Development, we should use Malagasy words to do that. Malagasy words only, not mixed up ones. Malagasy language with proverbs and hainteny (Note of the translator : a Malagasy form of expression that uses allusions and metaphors), because they are the keys to Malagasy people's hearts.”

Rabelazao relays Rado's humorous example to illustrate his point :

“Tsaroako tsara, fony vao azo ny Fahaleovantena, ka nentanina tamin'ilay fambolem-bary “en ligne” ny Tantsaha sy mpamboly vary. Nahatsikaiky sy nampalahelo anefa, fa noheverin'ny any ambanivohitra ho anaran'olona ity “ligne” ity, ka maro no nilaza hoe : “Aiza ho aiza, tompoko, no misy ity Raline ity, mba hakanay toro-hevitra amin'izay nataony ?” Teo vao nikoropaka ny manampahaizana nitady teny malagasy, ka voatery nitety tanàna sy vohitra, nilaza fa “voly tora-tady” no dikan'io fa tsy izany “Raline” izany. Ho efa nahomby hatrany am-piantombohany anefa ny tetika, raha nogasiana hoe : “Manaova voly tora-tady !””

“I remember, right after Independence, when peasants were urged to grow their rice “in line”. They believed “in line” was a person's name and asked :”Where is this inline person, so that we may ask him for advice?”. That is when the educated people started looking for Malagasy words and had to travel all over, to say that “in line” actually meant “voly tora-tady” in Malagasy, and was not a “in line”. Their project would have succeeded since the very beginning, if they had simply used Malagasy words :”Manaova voly tora-tady!”

Finally, Imaintikely posts one of his poems, with a French translation by Serge Rodin, a prominent Malagasy writer. I am humbly trying to translate into English here. Please forgive the translation's imperfections.

MESSAGE
You are going to see her, but…
Do not tell her about my suffering,
Let her ignore the bite of pain,
that is tearing up my being,
in the web she trapped me in,
My sweating heart that chokes me silently
at midnight
when I ponder my fate,
Do not let her know !

… If she were to ask
I beg of you to lie for once !
Tell her my thoughts have forgotten all about her
Flowers have grown on the past ashes blown by the Adaoro
These journals have been incinerated and all but cremated
…As for my white hair,
and the lines of my forehead
please hide, hide them!
Do you understand?

One last thing
One demand ! See if she is happy.
These are the signs for you to know :
“In her bedroom: there are flowers that will be pink
At her bedside : the picture of her lover… whoever he may be”
If you see those, then she is happy
so do not even talk about me
as happy is what I wish her to be.

This is my message. Please do not forget.
And Adieu !
But before you go,
this hand of yours, do not touch anything with it,
until it links to hers…

Yes, that is it. Have a good journey.
And please do close that door
On my tears.
January 1966.

HAFATRA
Ho any ianao,kanefa….
Aza ataonao fantany izao fahoriako izao
Fa aoka hiafina aminy
Ny ketoky ny jaly
Nanempaka ny aiko,tanatin'ny longoa
Izay namandrihany ahy…
Ny dinitry ny foko manorika ahy mangina,
Fa sempo-tsasak'alina
Misaina ity anjarako,
Aza ataonao fantany!

…Raha manontany izy,
Iangaviako ianao handainga indray mandeha !
Lazao fa nanadino ny momba azy rehetra
Ny saiko manontolo.
“Rako-boninkazo hoe ireo lavenon-dasa
natoraky ny Adaoro”
Ireto diary ireto lazao fa efa may
Sy tapitra efa kila…
….Fa ny volofotsiko,
Ny ketrokentron'handriko
Afeno dia afeno !
Azonao izany ?

Etsy kely koa
Hafarako ianao !Jereo raha sambatra izy !
Mba hamantaranao dia ireto no fambara :
“Ao an’ efitranony :misy voninkazo
Tsy maintsy mavokely…
Eo an-doha-fandrianany :
Ny sarin'olotiany…na iza n'iza izay “
Raha izay no hitanao dia efa sambatra izy
Ka aza asiana resaka momba ahy akory,
F'izany rahateo no niriko ho azy…

Izay no hafatrafatro
Ka tazony tsara …Ary dia veloma !
Saingy etsy ange !
‘Ty tànanao ity, aza akasi-javatra
Mandra-pifandray ny tànanao sy ny azy…

Eny e ! Ampy izay.Tongava soa aman-tsara !
Dia akatony mora
Io varavarako io
Fa hitomany aho…

Rado, janoary 1966

Mandria am-piadanana, Rado.
Rest in peace.

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