Madagascar: A Strange 50th Independence Day Anniversary

Madagascar 50th Independence Day Anniversary  is on June 26th and the festivities are already underway . In spite of a star-studded line-up of international entertainers, the atmosphere is not exactly festive because of the political uncertainty and the economic hardship that has resulted from the 18 month-long crisis.

Raising the flag and lighting up lanterns to celebrate independence are an enduring tradition in Madagascar around this time but it seems that there are fewer flags this year for various reasons. The atmosphere was further dampened by the death of a pedestrian who got run over by a motorist for the presidential cortège [fr].

The festivities have certainly overtaken mainstream media, but several bloggers wonder whether it is justified to have a costly celebration in times of economic uncertainty and mass malnutrition in the southern region.  Many Malagasies have enjoyed the entertainment, a welcome respite from the everyday grind.

Many bloggers opined on the issue. Ndimby recalls the famous words of a Roman statesman and wonders what happened to  the promises of less public spending [fr]:

on se demande où sont passé les grands slogans lancés sur la Place du 13 mai contre le gaspillage des deniers publics pour des futilités ? Sans doute est-ce le prix à payer pour que le DJ Andry TGV puisse marquer à sa manière de son empreinte la vie nationale. C’est donc l’occasion de lui rappeler ces mots de Cicéron : « Plus on est placé haut, plus on doit se montrer humble ».

One wonders where they have all gone, all the slogans about less public money spending that were shouted at the Place du 13 mai? Maybe that is the price to pay for Andry TGV, the deejay to mark with his own imprint national history.  This might be a good time to remind him of Marcus Tellius Cicero's words:” The  higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk”

Malagasy Lantern from ChronoWizard on Flickr under CC-license

Blogger Randy argues on his Facebook page  that  Independence Day does not belong to any political party and that he is glad  to see foreign artists come  honor Madagascar [fr]:

ému en voyant le rapper américain Big Ali entrer sur scène drapé du drapeau national malgache. Il s'en est jamais séparé tout au long du show [..] La fête de l'indépendance n'appartient à personne. le drapeau national, tout comme l'hymne, fait partie des institutions sacrées de la République que chaque citoyen doit respecter indépendamment des dirigeants.

(I was) moved to see the american rapper Big Ali enter the scene draped with a Malagasy flag. It never left him during the whole show [..] Independence Day does not belong to anyone. The national flag, like the anthem, is part of the sacred institutions of the republic that each citizens should respect independently of the people currently in charge.

More Lanterns from ChronoWizard:

As independence day approaches, several criminal trials related to the turmoil of the past year are underway in Antananarivo.
10 radio journalists have been imprisoned since mid-may [fr]. As many bloggers pondered the meaning of the 50th anniversary of independence for many francophone countries, Basyvava turns to domestic affairs and wonders aloud whether the justice system in Madagascar can be called “independent” [mg]:

Fitsarana izay niniana natao amin’izao ankatoky ny fankalazana ny faha-50 nahazoana ny fahaleovantenam-pirenena izao. Ny eo anivon’ny fitondranana FAT no hita toa namaritra ity daty hanaovana ny fitsarana ity, izay heverin’ny mpanarabaovao, fa fitsabahana mivantana amin’ny asan’ny fitsarana eto amintsika.

The trials are scheduled around the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence day. The leaders of the HAT (the transitional government) seem to have selected this date and therefore one has to wonder whether the judicial system is really independent in our country.

Finally, in this milestone year and given the past turmoils, Mitiyu wonders whether this “democracy”, that every Malagasy politician seems to claim as their ultimate goal, is really worth it for countries like Madagascar [fr]:

On parle souvent d’élection, une manifestation de la démocratie. Si nous analysons les issus de certaines élections et l’impact social, économique ou politique de certaines élections à Madagascar on peut se demander si on a réellement besoin de la démocratie car en fin de compte on lave le cerveau du peuple « manipulé », on leur explique qu’ils sont malheureux et on leur demande de descendre dans la rue au nom de la démocratie.
Avec la démocratie, on met aussi en avant la liberté d’expression. Est-ce que cette liberté d’expression existe-t-elle à Madagascar ou est-ce qu’on doit toujours se cacher derrière une autre identité ou sous la ligne éditoriale imposée par le patron de presse pour mieux s’exprimer en toute quiétude?

We often talk of elections, as a product of democracy. If we analyze the results of some elections and their social, economic and political impact, one wonders whether we really need democracy as we can just brainwash and “manipulate” the people, you tell them they are unhappy and we ask them to go the streets in the name of democracy.
With democracy, one also need to talk about freedom of speech. Is there a true freedom of speech in Madagascar or do we always have to hide behind a secret identity or an editorial line imposed by the director of press to express ourselves?

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