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Madagascar: Martyrs’ of the Revolt of 1947 – Memorial Day

flag of Madagascar

Madagascar’s Memorial Day: March 29

Memorial Day is a public holiday in Madagascar.

Madagascar, an island state in the southeastern portion of the African continent, celebrates annual Memorial Day annually on the 29th of March. Memorial Day is also known as Martyrs’ Day or Commemoration Day. The day is set to commemorate the death of more than 11,000 in the Revolt of 1947 of the armed militants of Democratic Movement for Malagasy Restoration (MDRM) in 1947 during the occupation of the French imperial forces in the land.

History of Madagascar’s Memorial Day

The first major conflict between Madagascar’s colonial French rulers and Malagasy’s of the MDRM started in the 19th century when Queen Ranavalona III resisted French foreign rule on the island. A year after both her and the prime minister of Madagascar were exiled to Reunion and subsequently to Algeria.

Putting the monarchy and the government in exile did not stop the Malagasys to mount protest against the French colonial forces in the area. Malagasys’ demand for labor equality and discrimination were largely fueled by France’s refusal to confer French citizenship to the Malagasy people who were involved in the First World War. Although citizenship was eventually awarded in the creation of the French Fourth Republic in 1946, the growing discontent among the Malagasys were not enough to quench their call for Madagascar’s full independence from France.

A war broke out in March 29, 1947 between the two forces but the Malagasy suffered a heavy loss of more than 11,000 men. The brains of the revolution were later tried in military courts where some (around 20) were executed, and others were imprisoned.

Madagascar’s Memorial Day: Traditions, Customs and Activities

Local officials deliver speeches to remember those who perished in the violent revolution of 1947 by the Malagasy nationalists and lay wreath on memorials dedicated to the martyrs.

People in Madagascar treat this holiday as a family day. Little activities are held during the holiday other than families going to the movie houses or nearby parks to relax on a long weekend.

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