a little about Madagascar as I understand it

In the 2nd century AD, the big island was populated by migrators from Indonesia and Malaysia who brought with them the rice culture.

Marco Polo was the first European who saw the big Island and named it Madagascar.

In the 1500's European merchants started showing an interested in the big island, first the portuguese, then the dutch and the British.

Around the 18th century it became a very popular pirate base, strategically located on the route from Asia to Europe passing through the cape of good hope (south Africa). The pirates contributed greatly to the local gene pool and it is said that there is an abundance of buried treasure on the island.

During this period, the government was ruled by the Merina dynasty, an indigenous royal family.

Madagascar became an official french colony in 1897. It was a very strategic location during WWII with the Europeans and allied forces fearing a naval Japanese invasion.

In 1960, around the same time as many other African countries, the Malagasy people obtained their independence from the french.

Since then government has been a bit of a mess with corrupted elections and coups overturning government.

The former president, Ratsiraka, wanted to follow the example of Mao and Kim Jung IL and turn the red island into a communist regime. With the importance of religion in the everyday life of the common folk, he was overturned by the current president, Marc Ravalomanana.

The church, who is still very powerful and influential here, played a big role in his taking over.

As i understand it, from what the people here say, at first he did a lot for the local economy by opening a dairy company, Tary, which employed a geat deal of local farmers and workers. However, once in office he imported cows from Holland due to their greater productivity, stopped using local labour and privatized all of his company's earnings.

He had sworn to solve the problem of poverty in Madagascar but has recently used tax money to buy a plane which can fly for 12 consecutive hours to replace his old one which could only go for 4 hours ( just enough to get him to mainland Africa). They say this is in case of a public uproar so that he can flee the country.

Relative to other African countries, Madagascar has enjoyed a relatively peaceful history ( again this is relative to other African countries).

There is a demonstration against the government today and i was told not to go into the downtown area for it might turn violent. The president, who's picture is put on display everywhere, has control over all media, some radio stations and news papers have been suspended because they reported the protest and talked about the people's demands.

Elections are held in 2 years and this being a "democracy", anyone can run. However, the president doesn't allow any publicity on TV, radio or news papers of any other political party.

Rest assured though, that there is no danger and no talk of any violent outbreak, it is simply the reality which exists here like in many other places.

PS: please do not take everything i said for an exact fact, this is mainly how it was explained to me


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