Revolt in Madagascar 1947-1948

[ 1947 - 1948 ]

In 1946, the island of Madagascar became a French overseas territory, prompting the establishment of its first formal political party, called the Mouvement Democratique de la Renovation Malagache (MDRM), whose objective was independence for Madagascar. In less than a year, Malagasy nationalist tribesmen rose in revolt in the island's eastern part; after receiving reinforcements, resident French soldiers were able to quell it, but not before much bloodshed had occurred (more than 11,000 persons were killed in the fighting). The MDRM was outlawed, and the revolt continued as a guerrilla war through 1948. Ten years later France allowed Madagascar's natives to decide their own fate; they voted to become autonomous within the French Community, and the Malagasy Republic was proclaimed on October 14, 1958 (it became fully independent in 1960). The country was renamed Madagascar in 1975.


On March 29, 1947, Malagasy nationalists revolted against the French. Although the uprising eventually spread over one-third of the island, the French were able to restore order after reinforcements arrived from France. Casualties among the Malagasy were estimated in the 60,000 to 80,000 range (later reports estimated 11,000 casualties, of whom 180 were non-Malagasy). The group of leaders responsible for the uprising, which came to be referred to as the Revolt of 1947, never has been identified conclusively. Although the MDRM leadership consistently maintained its innocence, the French outlawed the party. French military courts tried the military leaders of the revolt and executed twenty of them. Other trials produced, by one report, some 5,000 to 6,000 convictions, and penalties ranged from brief imprisonment to death.

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