Proverbe Malgache sur le Présent / Malagasy Proverb on the Present

Souimanga bronze / Bronzy sunbird

Le passé appartient aux ancêtres; l’avenir appartient à Dieu, seul le présent t’appartient (proverbe Malgache – Madagascar).

The past belongs to the ancestors; the future belongs to God, only the present belongs to you (Malagasy proverb – Madagascar).

Queen Ranavalona III, the Last Monarch of the Kingdom of Madagascar

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

Today we will talk about the last queen of the Kingdom of Madagascar, Queen Ranavalona III. She reigned from July 30, 1883 to February 28, 1897. Like many African kings and queens of the late 1800s and early 1900, she was deposed by the European colonizer, in this case the French, and sent into exile first on the island of Reunion, and then later in Algeria (just like the King of Dahomey, Béhanzin) where she died, never to see her native Madagascar again.

Map of modern-day Madagascar

Who was Ranavalona III? Well, as her name goes, she was the third Malagasy queen with the name Ranavalona. She became queen after the death of her grand-aunt, queen Ranavalona II. Ranavalona III was born Princess Razafindrahety in 1861. She was raised as a protestant, and taught by instructors from the London Missionary Society. Upon completion of her education, she married nobleman Ratrimo, but he died under suspicious circumstances in May 1883, just 2 months after Queen Ranavalona II’s passing. Rumor had it that the prime minister Rainilaiarivony had poisoned her husband, Ratrimo so as not to relinquish power. The young princess then ascended the throne of Madagascar at the tender age of 22, on July 13, 1883. It is said that she was chosen over her older sister, Rasendranoro, because of her conciliatory nature which the prime minister and other members of the Andriana looked for.

Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony of Madagascar

At the time of Ranavalona III’s ascension, Madagascar was navigating a shift from absolute rule (power in the hands of the king/queen) to constitutional monarchy. Under the new system, true authority was vested in the prime minister: in this case, Rainilaiarivony, who secured his grasp on power by marrying the newly crowned—and recently widowed—queen. In accordance with tradition, Rainilaiarivony had previously wed both of Ranavalona III’s predecessors, Ranavalona II and Rasoherina. Lucky man, wouldn’t you think? One man married to 3 successive queens! Probably the only one in history (this will be the story for another day)! Rainilaiarivony largely oversaw the day-to-day governance of the kingdom and managed its foreign affairs.

Illustration of France implanting its protectorate on Madagascar

As a queen, Ranavalona III inherited a kingdom which was assaulted by the French who wanted her country to be part of their protectorate. Throughout her reign, she tried to strengthen trade and diplomatic relations with the United States and Great Britain, in an effort to keep the French at bay. In 1886, the queen solicited U.S. intervention to help protect Madagascar from the French but was ignored. She, like many kings and queens of Africa back then, was probably not aware of the scramble for Africa, and the Berlin Conference (Selection from the 1885 Berlin Conference Final Act, The Berlin Conference 1884 – 1885 – Final Act (Continuation)), where Europeans allocated areas of the continent to themselves. She was forced to sign a treaty that gave France a certain control of Madagascar in order to prevent war, but the French wanted full control over Madagascar and did not back down. Ranavalona III successfully kept the French at bay until 1896 when the French declared Madagascar as their colony. Repeat French attacks on coastal port towns and an assault on the capital city of Antananarivo ultimately led to the capture of the royal palace in 1895, ending the sovereignty and political autonomy of the century-old kingdom (French Colonial Treaty in Madagascar : 18 January 1896).

Queen Ranavalona III

The newly installed French colonial government promptly exiled prime minister Rainilaiarivony to Algiers, Algeria. Ranavalona and her court were initially permitted to remain in Madagascar as symbolic figureheads, but the outbreak of a popular resistance movement – the menalamba rebellion – and discovery of anti-French political intrigues at court led the French to exile the queen to the island of Réunion on February 27, 1897.

Queen Ranavalona III with her grandniece Marie-Louise ca 1905 in exile in Algiers, Algeria

Rainilaiarivony died that same year in Algiers, and shortly thereafter Ranavalona was relocated to a villa in Algiers, along with several members of her family. Despite Ranavalona’s repeated requests, she was never permitted to return home to Madagascar. Like many African kings and queens, she was deported (Deportation of African Heads of States). She died of an embolism at her villa in Algiers on May 3, 1917 at the age of 55. Her remains were buried in Algiers but were disinterred 21 years later and shipped to Madagascar, where they were placed within the tomb of Queen Rasoherina on the grounds of the Rova of Antananarivo (Rova de Manjakamiadana). you remember Queen Ranavalona III, remember that she was a queen who fought against the foreign invasion to the best of her ability, but above all remember that all she wanted was the independence of her people and culture.

African Bird: The Bronzy Sunbird (Souimanga Bronzé)

I just found another species of birds in my mother’s garden. It is called the Souimanga in Malagasy which has been adopted as its name in French, or simply sunbird in English. In the case at hand, it is the Souimanga bronzé or bronzy sunbird known by its scientific name as Nectarinia kilimensis; it is very close to the Souimanga de Mariqua or Marico sunbird. It is native of Sub-Saharan Africa. Its coat is quite shiny and irridescent. Its flight is quick, similar to the American hummingbird. As you can see, this pretty visitor has a shiny green coat sparsed with black, and a red underbelly; it feeds on flower nectar. The shiny metallic color indicates that our visitor is a male. Enjoy!

When the Kilimanjaro Leads to Happy Corals !

Mt Kilimanjaro (Source: KidsKonnect.com)

What does the Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain on African soil, have to do with corals in the ocean? Well, it turns out that there are channels of cool water that developed millions of years ago under the Mt Kilimanjaro, and these end in the Indian ocean off the coast of Mombasa. With the recent warming of the oceans, this cool water meets the ocean right on the coast to create a sort of marine sanctuary for corals, dolphins, and even species taught to be extinct. Enjoy excerpts below from the article at the Guardian!

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Scientists have discovered a climate crisis refuge for coral reefs off the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, where species are thriving despite warming events that have killed their neighbours.

The coral sanctuary is a wildlife hotspot, teeming with spinner dolphins and boasting rare species, including prehistoric fish and dugongs. Researchers believe its location in a cool spot in the ocean is helping to protect it and the surrounding marine life from the harmful effects of the climate crisis.

[Tim] McClanahan, the lead scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, who lives and works in Mombasa, Kenya, said he had an “epiphany” when he realised why the reef was so rich in wildlife. The coastline has the highest density of dolphins in east Africa, and coelacanths, fish once believed extinct, swim in its deep waters. “I thought ‘why are all the animals here?’ And I realised it was because of Kilimanjaro,” he said.

The coral refuge, which stretches from Shimoni, 50 miles south of Mombasa, in Kenya to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, is fed by cool water from deep channels formed thousands of years ago by glacial runoff from Mt Kilimanjaro and the Usambara mountains.

When a Piece of Wood is not just ANY Piece of Wood: Findings from the Great Pyramid of Giza

Great Pyramid of Giza (Source: Wikipedia)

There was a recent discovery of a long lost artifact from the Great Pyramid of Giza, this is one of only three objects ever recovered from inside the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. It was found in… Scotland… at the University of Aberdeen. The wooden fragments were obtained by engineer Waynman Dixon inside the pyramid’s Queens Chamber in 1872, which he offered to someone at the university as a gift. The artifact has been carbon-dated to be about 5000 years old, to the period 3341-3094 BC – some 500 years earlier than historical records which date the Great Pyramid to the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu  in 2580-2560 BC. This raises important question given that they are older than the pyramid… so could they have been part of an older structure, or just part of a tree buried with the pharaoh for continuity ? For the full article, go to the Guardian.

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Curatorial assistant Abeer Eladany, originally from Egypt, was reviewing items in the university’s Asia collection when she came across a cigar box marked with her country’s former flag.

Inside she found several wooden splinters which she then identified as a fragment of wood from the Great Pyramid which has been missing for more than a century. …

The Taro and Its Neighbors

Dotted taro leaf

From its large leaves, the taro collected water and without gathering any for itself, or absorbing enough, watered its neighbors who bloomed and produced abundantly. For the benefit of others, generous taro forgot itself.

When the dry season came, it was the first to suffer from the lack of water. Turning to its neighbors who had great reserves, it begged them to share enough to survive until the rainy season. Everyone closed their door to its face and fell back on their complacency.

It is while dying that he understood that forgetting oneself for the benefit of others is a failure and that one must always be satisfied before adding to others.

Fables des Montagnes de Patrice Kayo, Collection Les CLES de l’avenir, Editions CLE, Yaounde, p. 59 (1998). Translated to English by Dr. Y.Afrolegends.com

HAPPY 2021!

Fireworks
Fireworks

Precious readers, wishing you all a HAPPY 2021! May this new year mark the beginning of new endeavors, the continuation of current ones, and/or the end of old ones. May it be filled with greatness, success, joy, love, happiness, abundance, harmony, and peace!  I know 2020 was quite a year, and that many are hoping for something better. Let us leave behind the baggage, and be prepared to take off for this new year, never losing altitude during this flight, and trusting for better.

The top 5 posts of the year 2020 are listed below. We, at Afrolegends.com, would like to express our profound gratitude for your constant support, as your readership has carried us forward. Keep on visiting, sharing, and commenting.  I wish you all wonders without borders, grace, and peace for 2021! Keep your heads up, and may your year be as beautiful as the petals of this flower! As you can see, everything about this flower marks the beginning of something beautiful: a new start, a new life, and a new joy! As always, like Agostinho Neto said, “A luta continua … a vitória é certa!

Happy 2021

1. Adinkra Symbols and the Rich Akan Culture

2. Kente Cloth: An Ashanti Tradition dating Centuries back

3. ‘Love Poem for my Country’ by Sandile Dikeni

4. Scarification: an ‘Ancient’ African Tattoo Culture

5. Samori Touré: African Leader and Resistant to French Imperialism!

Who/What did we Celebrate in Africa in 2020 ?

Even though 2020 was quite a “different” year for a lot of people, there were still a lot of things to celebrate in Africa. Let’s do a review of some of the things we celebrated this year in 2020! There are many more, of course, but I selected 10. Enjoy!

Flag of Namibia
  1. As you remember, Germany committed the First Genocide of the 20th Century in Namibia. It took them over a century to even acknowledge it. Over the past few years, they have been returning skulls of the Herero they killed, and memorabilia from Herero freedom fighters [Germany Returns Skulls of Namibians Genocide Victims, Germany Returns Artifacts Stolen From a Namibian Freedom Fighter, Have Germans finally acknowledged the Namibian Genocide?]. This year, Namibia rejected a German offer of compensation of 10 million Euros for the genocide. I applaud the strength of the Namibian government for refusing this offer which is a spat from the German:  Such an insult! Germany have almost eradicated an entire race, and to this day, Namibia is struggling because of this. And they give 10 million Euros10 millions Euros for torturing, killing, raping, destroying, displacing for years? [Namibia Rightfully Rejects 10 million Euros Compensation for Genocide]
  2. King Leopold II
    At the end of June, the King of Belgium “expressed his deepest regrets;”  it took over 100 years for a Belgian King to finally “express his deepest regrets” for Belgium’s colonial past in Congo. As we recall, King Leopold II of Belgium perpetrated a genocide in Congo.  Leopold II took Congo, a country at least 10 times the size of Belgium, as his private property and killed millions of Congolese. It is said that he must have executed and maimed over 15 million people! Not sure what this king wants… deepest regrets is not equal to apology or recognition… so although this is a first in over 100 years, it will not cut it! [Belgian King Expresses ‘Deepest Regrets’ for Colonial Past in Congo, Lumumba’s Children Ask Belgian King for their Father’s Remains]
  3. Metche Waterfalls in Cameroon was the site of French genocide there
    France returned skulls of Algerian fighters in August, as a first step towards recognition of their wrongdoings (genocide) in Algeria. What is it with these people and skulls is beyond me! As a flashback, Algeria obtained its independence from France after 7 years of a bloody war with France. During that time, France perpetrated a genocide in Algeria… For the first time, a French president, Emmanuel Macron, acknowledged that the colonization of Algeria was a “crime against humanity.” We are now awaiting for recognition of France’s crimes against humanity in Cameroon, and Madagascar, and countless others [French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon, Fossi Jacob: A Cameroonian Hero and France’s Genocide in Cameroon].
  4. In Tanzania, Saniniu Laizer, a small-scale miner, became an overnight millionaire in June when he found and sold two rough Tanzanite stones valued at $3.4 millions, and then sold another gem in August for $2 millions. This was the biggest ever found in Tanzania, not sure for the world. These are major records!
  5. Flag of South Africa
    Black South Africans who fought in World War II were finally recognized! This is great… but at the same time sad… why did it take 80 years for their recognition? We all know that African soldiers were key to the liberation of France during World War II, and yet when it came time for the parade on the Bastille, their uniforms were given to their white counterparts for the parade… after all, it should not be read in the annals of history that Africans liberated France! [Thiaroye: A French Massacre in Senegal, ‘Thiaroye Massacre’ by Ousmane Sembene]
  6. There is strong excitement to the countdown to the African trade. The trading phase under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 54 of the 55 countries in Africa, and initially set to begin in July 2020, but now will start on January 1, 2021 [Nigeria signs African Free Trade Area Agreement]. This is a big news for the African continent as it will now allow for free trade across the continent, increasing trade among countries which should have always traded between themselves. This is what was envisioned by Kwame Nkrumah, all the independence fathers, and more recently by Muammar Kadhafi (Africans and the Trap of Democracy) at the AU.
  7. Angelique Kidjo (Source: World Music Central)
    The world-renowned singer singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo from Benin kicked off the year 2020 with a monumental performance at the 62nd Grammy Awards in January. She snatched her 4th Grammy award for Best World Album, and rocked the Los Angeles Staples Center. As always (I have had the honor of attending one of her concerts), she brought the true spirit of Africa to the stage as she told all that African music is the bedrock of all music.
  8. Amid the strong racial justice movements that rocked the world this year, the country of Benin has decided to renovate the fort of Ouidah, in Ouidah which was a key city in the slave trade for many centuries; this is a bid to promote tourism in the country, and to honour the suffering and celebrate the overcoming Africans who were captured and inhumanely shipped abroad from the main port of this coastal town [Benin restores the Fort of Ouidah]. Similarly, Somalia has also made a move to culturally reinforce its lands as it signed in February an education and heritage support deal with UNESCO aimed at strengthening efforts to preserve the country’s culture, education, and history.
  9. Djaili Amadou Amal (Source: Wikipedia)
    This year, there was a good news for African writers. Cameroon’s Djaïli Amadou Amal won this year’s prestigious French Literary Award Goncourt des Lycéens for her novel ‘Les Impatientes‘ — inspired by her personal experiences in a South Sahel patriarchal society; later that week in December she won the Choix Goncourt de l’Orient. Two African authors were shortlisted for the Booker Prize of fiction: Ethiopian Maaza Mengiste, and Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie whose novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun‘ — set during her the Biafra civil war, was voted the best book to have won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in its 25-year history.
  10. Master KG and Nomcebo Kizode in Jerusalema (Africanews.com)
    Jerusalema”, the South African song by DJ Master KG featuring Nomcebo Kizode has taken over the world and has gone viral on social media…  Jerusalema has become a global phenomenon, even inspiring its own dance challenge. What is even more amazing, is the hit took over the world, and is a Gospel song which talks about God always being close, saving us, and never letting go of us.. The Gospel hit has undoubtedly marked Africa as the soundtrack of the year [South Africa National Heritage Day, The story behind Master KG’s ‘Jerusalema,’ one of the most …].

Who/What did we say goodbye to in Africa in 2020?

President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (Source: thecable.ng)

Well, 2020 has been quite a year… when 2020 started, nobody could have told me that there would be a “global pandemic” and I would have believed it, that there will be a confinement and I would have believed, that people will be having “virtual parties” and I would have believed, or that people would have been walking around faceless i.e. masked and I would have believed. What a year! For sure, 2020 is going out, and there will be no other 2020. So let us remember 2020 in Africa, and remember the people, situations, and more that we said goodbye to.

Pierre Nkurunziza during a community event (Source: PressHerald.com)
  1. President J.J. Rawlings, former President of Ghana joined his ancestors this past November. The Ghanaian president J.J. Rawlings has a strong place in history as an influential, courageous, tough-talking, bold, impactful leader and charismatic Statesman who left deep impressions on the political landscapes of his country and, indeed, Africa. Just like the Ghana of today owes a lot to Kwame Nkrumah the father of its independence, the Ghana of today owes a lot to J.J. Rawlings, the father of its economic stability and face-lift. There were a lot of tributes, and I found so much similarities between the words of Rawlings and some that I have echoed here on his blog, J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More.
  2. President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi left us this past June: Pierre Nkurunziza: So Long to the President who said ‘NO’ to the ICC, UN, WHO, BBC, and VOA. This president, Pierre Nkurunziza, was not a “traditional” president in his white marble castle, but was seen rather as a simple man, a man of the people, a man like the people he served, very religious and patriotic. Pierre Nkurunziza: Some of His Achievements for Burundi.
  3. Amadou Toumani Toure – ATT (Souce: Blackfacts.com
    The soldier of democracy, the former president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), also changed plane this year: GoodBye to Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) -Former President of Mali. As I said earlier, this was a man of integrity! Some may call him a realist. When then president Traoré asked the army to keep firing at the Malian people, he stood up and said ‘NO’. He took power, and steered the country towards its first democratic elections. Then he stepped down. Later, he won the presidential election with a coalition, and served 2 terms. When in 2012 there was a coup against him, he resigned, and left the office. Others in Africa should copy a page from ATT’s book.
  4. We said goodbye to the world-renowned Cameroonian/French saxophonist Manu Dibango. So Long Manu Dibango: Your Saxophone will Enlighten our Lives. His saxophone, big voice, and laughter brought joy, and influenced world-renowned musicians such as  Michael Jackson, Kool and the Gang, and more. As for me, I remember “Bienvenu, Welcome to Cameroon” and his collaboration with Fela Kuti as my favorites.
  5. This year we said goodbye to Mory Kante : the Electrifying Griot from Guinea. Often known as the “electronic griot” because he modernized local traditional instruments such as his kora which he electrified, and fused African music with styles and instruments from Western pop. His 1987 hit “Ye Ke Ye Ke” is a hit I still dance to. If you ever come across a kora, or listen to Ye Ke Ye Ke remember the electrifying griot Mory Kante and the great musical century-long traditions dating back to the Ghana Empire, Ancient Kingdom of Africa.
  6. Zindzi Mandela (Source: Timeslive.co.za)
    In July, Zindzi Mandela: the daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela passed away. As well, as being remembered by her family and loved ones, the world remembers her as the young woman who read Nelson Mandela‘s letter of rejection in 1985. Reading that letter required a lot of courage, determination and strength to defy the apartheid regime and stand in front of a full stadium thirsty for words of encouragement, and hope from their leaders to keep facing the injustices of an inhumane regime.
  7. This past November as well, Mamadou Tandja, the former President of Niger changed his plane of existence. Did you know that France’s nuclear power is funded by the uranium of Niger? and that Niger gets nothing for it? Tandja was the president who asked that the French nuclear company Areva start to pay something to Niger. During his terms, the relationship with Areva, which had enjoyed a de facto four decade monopoly in the country, worsened as he sought to curb the power of French influence by striking a deal with Sino-U in 2007 to develop a uranium mine, resulting in competition for Areva. As you can guess, he was deposed in a coup. Remember The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa which gives France monopole over riches, mines, in a country? So long brother!
  8. Flag of Mali
    Flag of Mali
    In August, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK), president of Mali, was booted out of office: Bye Bye IBK: Mali Coup. This was a coup d’etat in Mali, and the Malian people rejoiced… but then as always France and its croonies ADO forced the Malian military leaders to promise to reinstate a civilian government and hold elections within a relatively short time frame. As always, France is there to bring back Africans into slavery… no wonder they can stay confined when they get 500 billions for free from African countries [The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in AfricaFCFA: France’s Colonial Tax on Africa, Africa is funding Europe!]. Is France Trying to (re) Colonize Africa?
  9. Flag of Zimbabwe
    Flag of Zimbabwe
    In September, common sense left the government of Zimbabwe, when it decided to compensate white farmers the hefty sum of 3.5 billion dollars… within 12 months, when the country is currently on life support and there is no money in its coffers [Is Zimbabwe the New Haiti?]! This is outrageous! When the economy is in shambles, how can the government agree to this? Did these white farmers ever compensate the Africans after independence in 1980 for using their lands for a century, for abusing them off their lands? And for all the years of economic embargo forced on the country? Then in September, Zimbabwe agreed to return seized land to foreigners. What is funny is that the government has been doing this in hopes of having the embargo removed, but the country is still under serious economic embargoes. Don’t they learn from history? Zimbabwe is indeed the new Haiti!
  10. Flag of Mozambique
    Peace in northern Mozambique seems to have become evasive, ever since that 15 billion dollars contract with the French firm Total for the oil in Cabo Delgado, and the discovery of one of the largest oil, diamonds, rubies in the world there. Tell me it is not connected? Now they want us to believe that there is islamist insurgency in Mozambique of all places!… And now Pope Francis has money to help the people and children of Mozambique who have been displaced by conflict! … Why did the Vatican not help the government of Samora Machel back then? why the people of Mozambique? Those diamonds and riches are really Africa’s downfall! Just a look at the banks financing the project reminds you of the Berlin conference of 1884 [Selection from the 1885 Berlin Conference Final Act]: 19 commercial bank facilities among which UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Export Import Bank of the United States, Italy’s SACE, the Netherlands’ Atradius, the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand [Reuters].