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11. Dez 2017

A first trial

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The recently elected president of the CFM reconciles a local conflict

The Council of the Fampihavanana Malagasy (CFM) is still about to prepare the ground for the challenges to come. One way to do this is the ongoing formation of the new members of the CFM, an effort to bring them on the same level concerning their knowledge of how to use the possibilities proper the CFM, and of how to react to the demands of the society. Last week, for example, about 10 members participated on a seminary proposed by the American non-governmental organization “Search for Common Ground” (Project Samy Gasy) on “Promoting good governance by elevated reliability. A program for improving the capacities and of the collaboration for promoting a multi-actor communication and of conflict resolution on Madagascar”, on Wednesday, 6 December 2017 (see photo).

While such activities continue, among others, the president of the CFM, Mr. Alphonse Maka, had to pass a first trial in reconciliation of a local conflict. During a recent stay near the town of Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) in the south-east of Madagascar, he was confronted with a conflict between Antandroy and Antanosy people, coming to the “edge of war”, as he said in an interview to me. Antandroy and Antanosy are established names for two main southern tribes or identity groups in the south of Madagascar. An Antanosy man became killed by an Antandroy, an act which only can be atoned for by a sacrifice of about 30 zebu cows, according to traditional custom. As the Antandroy clan affected was not able to provide such many cows, the conflict was about to escalate. Due to the presence of Mr. Alphonse Maka, originating from just this region, a “pact of non-aggression” was finally implemented (see the above article as well).

How did he succeed – and how do Mr. Maka understand the task and challenges of the CFM? These and other questions are touched upon in ongoing interviews, with more information to be given in due time on this blog.

06.12.2017, at the Hotel Pavé, Antananarivo

L’Express, 07.12.2017

 

 

11. Dez 2017

Update: How to study in Germany?

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Much interest for the information session

Germany offers a highly sophisticated university system for students and academics, welcoming international students from all over the world. On Wednesday, 6th December 2017, the scheduled information event on how to study in Germany took place at the University of Antananarivo, prepared by Peter Kneitz (Mention Histoire, Universität Halle) and Anne Zöppig (Mention Etudes Germaniques, DAAD).

The session attired much interest: About 70 students from many different disciplines and enrolled on different academic levels arrived, ready to know more about existing opportunities. Ms. Anna Zöppig, invited guest speaker from the DAAD – the German Academic Exchange Service, informed at first about main features of the German university system. Later she discussed the different scholarships offered by the DAAD and the conditions necessary to observe. While for undergraduates it is unfortunately up to the students to organize their stay (e.g. via Au Pair or volunteering), the DAAD invites specifically students with a master degree, and from all academic disciplines, to apply for a scholarship. Later, the University of Halle/Saale, linked via the DySoMa project with the University of Antananarivo, was presented as an example of German university by Peter Kneitz, followed by an systemic overview of main possibilities to study in Germany.

The discussion was animated and allowed to precise some of the many information transferred.

Thank you all for coming and good luck for your eventual decision to study in Germany. Many thanks as well to Mr. Roland Rakotovao, director of the department of history and the students for assisting in organizing the event and the technique necessary.

For further questions do not hesitate to contact

Anne Zöppig (DAAD, Mention Études Germaniques): azoeppig@gmx.de

or Peter Kneitz (Mention Histoire): peter.kneitz@ethnologie.uni-halle.de

 

Study day, 06.12.2017

 

Talk of Ms. Anne Zöppig, DAAD

 

3. Dez 2017

Towards a CFM in good working condition

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Who is the real expert of national reconciliation?

Recently the newly selected members of the ‘Council of Fampihavanana Malgagsy’ (CFM; Council of National Reconciliation) did benefit from a formation by experts. The aim was to get a balanced level of knowledge within the mostly new 33 council-members concerning the future field of work, i.e. the work of reconciliation.

However, while such idea seems generally well-founded, in view of the different background of the members, such procedure entails nonetheless some contradictions. Were the members of the CFM not chosen exactly because they are already experts in this field? And who are then the experts invited for sharing their particularly well accepted knowledge of reconciliation? Would it not have been useful, in a sense, to select just these latter experts of higher level to perform the task for which one has just the experts of second or inferior level? Such arguments, put forward by the journalist Aina Bovel (see below), might seem at first scholastic but hints to a potential weakness of the selection process, to be discussed more in detail.

Whatever the outcome of such questions will be, the formation is certainly another step to get the CFM finally to start the mandate in good working condition. Another ongoing step is the visit in the main six parts (formerly provinces) of the island, with the journey of the CFM to Fianarantsoa already completed, and more travelling to Majunga and Vakinankaratra scheduled for the near future.  It will be interested to know more about the first confrontation of the CFM-members with local or regional problems.

L’Express (21.11.2017)

3. Dez 2017

The rage of the desperate

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Deux persons beheaded following the application of ‘free’ dina

If persons are driven into a corner, their despair might quite probably result into surprise-attack. Such image could explain some aspect of that kind of violence which one can observe again and again in the Malagasy ‘bush’, the more rural regions far away of the capital town of Antananarivo.

One of the latest examples happened on Saturday, 18 November 2017, in the Analalava-district on the north-western coast of the island.  About a hundred individuals, a joint force of several neighboring villages, “besieged”, as the journalist of the Express daily writes, the fokontany (the smallest Malagasy administrative level, a municipality) of Maevarivotra, in the search of three suspected criminals. Once they caught two of them early in the morning, a “father of a family and his brother-in-law”, they conducted them about 250 meters away from the village and decapitated them, “one by another”. The villagers of Maevarivotra were panicked by the execution. The reinforced Gendarmerie forces are investigating the case and are trying to pacify the villages concerned.

While the article rather blames the application of a ‘free’ dina-law (village conventions, popular law), still not adapted or made homologous to the state law by the local court, the real problem seems to be elsewhere: many villagers simply do not believe (anymore) in the capacity of the state to produce order, to figure out the guilty and, most important, to punish them. Instead they more often than not insist on their observations that bandits can buy them simply out by money.

The ongoing debate on the village conventions (dina) is therefore rather illusory. Deputies and state functionaries are concentration them on the examination of ‘free’ dina-conventions concerning their accordance with exiting law. In this way they would try to exempt the existing dina from the blame of imbalance and arbitrariness. While trough that effort a formally an irreproachably dina is developing, the main problem remains untouched:  that the villagers feel left alone and are driven into the corner by all kind of bandits, leaving them, in their perspective, no other option than to strike back by utter force.

L’Express (21.11.2017)

3. Dez 2017

A turn from ‚concentric kingdoms‘ to the modern state?

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Some impressions of the “International Symposium of History, Culture and Civilisation”

Some 35 contributions from cultural scientists of different specialization provided insights into the on-going discussion of the origins of Malagasy civilization(s), set within the horizon of Indian Ocean connectivity („Southeast Asia, Madagascar: Odysee of a People of the Sea“). While some lecturer decided to chose a broad perspective, e.g. “Contact between Eastern Africa and South East Asia” (Félix Chami), other focused on seemingly narrow or tiny aspects like “Le chien dans la culture malgache” (Jean-Pierre Domenichini).

It is true that one might judge such divergent lectures, on a first sight, as incoherent or the symposium altogehter as an arbitrary kaleidoscope. However, if one reads the contributions as an effort to uncover the many silent origins and layers of Malagasy culture(s), a most fascinating interplay was developing between the many findings presented by the scholars. When, for example, Jean-Pierre Domenichini showed that the representation of dogs on Madagascar and the arising everyday positioning of dog in Malagasy societies has essentially two cultural layers, an older Austronesian one (with the dog as “sacrificial animal par excellence”) and a younger Islamic one (with the dog as impure animal), he urges at the same time to acknowledge the complexity of Malagasy origins in a nutshell.

Among the many contributions one offered to review the political development of Madagascar and was therefore particularly interesting within the view of the DySoMa-project. In his lecture  entitled “Towards a historical approach of Malagasy crisis”, Solofo Randrianja argues that the continual crisis of the Malagasy state might be the result of a historical shift from the ancient political model of ‘concentric kingdoms’ to the modern ‘Weberian’ state.

The term ‘concentric kingdoms’ war originally formed to describe the particularities of south-east Asian kingdoms: a clear center of power in the middle, surrounded by several circles of diminishing power, in difference to the European state which aimed to construct clear or definite frontiers. Mr. Randrianja puts forward in his hypothesis that the “non-acheivement of the hybridization of these two concepts” (le non achèvement de l’hybridation de ces deux conceptions) might be considered as one of the roots of contemporary political crisis.

While it is true that a purely structural argument would not allow to understand fully the difficulties of the contemporary Malagasy state, such idea offers nonetheless a precious possibility to exchange arguments, to deepen and to sharpen insights in the Malagasy state. Why, one might ask, in South-East Asia such turn from one political model to another was much more successful? In any case, it would be a fascinating task to reconstruct our historical understand of the Malagasy political development by analyzing the abolishment of the concentric kingdom since colonization, and the (ongoing) process of building up a totally new political idea, the democratic and republic state of Madagascar.

The symposium was completed by a exposition of the ‚Musée d’Art et d’Archeologie‘ and a hommage on the „first Malagasy scholar“, Dr. Jospeh Rasamimanana.

Abstract of Solofo Randrianja

Program

Rice container (Fanaram-bary)

Detail of wood carving (Musée d’Art et d’Archeologie)

During the symposium (30.11.2017)

Hommage au Docteur Jospeh Rasamimanana

27. Nov 2017

06.12.2017: How to study in Germany?

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How to study in Germany?

To study abroad, to exchange scientific and academic knowledge and to collaborate is an important and stimulating experience.

On 6 December 2017, 2 p.m., an information session is scheduled at the University of Antananarivo (Campus Ankatso, Faculty of Arts/Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Amphiteatre 24), aiming to present in a general way the possibilities of the German system of higher education and how to get involved into it.

Some of the questions discussed are:

1) How to understand the German higher education system? What about admission requirements and qualifications?

2) Which are the conditions for visa?

3) Which scholarships are available, according to the level of studies completed (Bachelor, Master, PhD, Post-Doc), and what are the possibilities for scientific collaboration?

4) what are the possibilties within the ongoing DySoMa-project and the collaboration (in preparation) between the University of Antananarivo and the University of Halle (Germany).

While the information is on a general level, the focus will be focused, according to the background of the presenters, on Humanities. Invited are, in particular, students of history and social anthropology, and of German studies. Our invited guest, Ms Anne Zöppig from the German Academic Excahnge service (DAAD) kindly agreed to give a presentation of the instruments of the DAAD.

Don’t hesitate to come and to get interested in new possibilities for your future academic work and career, and to discover the German system of higher education

How to study in Germany?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Nov 2017

Update: Human rights and civil society event

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The event on the courtyard of the was quite a success: An important number of stands and booths presenting different civil rights groups working on Madagascar. The following photos allowing to get some insights for those not able to attend.

View from the outside

Before the townhall

Members of the group Andrimasompokonolona, working against insecurity

Overview, just before the end

Stand of the group Liberty32, working for civil society

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.

                                         

18. Nov 2017

An experimental view on solidarity

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When concepts meet science

Is it not always a good idea to ‘translate’ abstract ideas or theories into more vivid, concrete, and, if possible, touchable forms? A word, a thought, might get unnoticed by many, if you do not take care to clothe them by an appropriate metaphor, by a brilliant sentence, by a proverb – or, by downsizing it to a well-known aspect of the physical world. Even if you don’t agree, you get an easy understandable base for further discussing, for deepening the subject. That is what a Malagasy student in social anthropology, Mr. Heriniaina Danielson Ralaivaha, has done.

Recently, by getting interested in the ongoing project on the “Dynamics of Solidarity on Madagascar”, he proposed me his own, original way to translate the possible importance of the notion of ‘solidarity’ for building up society, and to understand more about the historical journey of that idea on the island of Madagascar in particular. One afternoon, when we had agreed to meet for discussion, he arrived with a couple of empty plastic bottles and two funnels, ready for a surprise. As his presentation allows to approach the subject central to the DySoMa project from a different angle, it fits perfect into this blog. And this is what he presented.

The experiment

Experimental setup: About ten empty water bottles, two funnels, a bucket with water. Two individuals ready for a competition.

The experimental setup

Application: Everyone gets a funnel with the order to fill up as many bottles as possible within one minute. However, they have to keep the funnel in two opposite ways. The first person is allowed to keep the funnel ‘normal’, i.e. according to his function: The wider side of the funnel is therefore above, and the pipe below. The second person, though, gets the order to keep the funnel upside-down, i.e. the pipe is above, and the wider side of the funnel is below. Who will triumph, with more bottles filled?

Funnel, upside-down

A competition in bottle-filling

Observation: The first individual had a comparatively easy task and he has no problem in filling quickly five or six bottles of water. The second individual, however, is confronted with a much more difficult situation, as most of the water drips beside the funnel and does not enter the bottle. Even with much more energy and commitment compared with his opponent, he hardly gets one bottle filled up – and necessarily loses.

Analysis: To hold the funnel the right way gives you a much superior possibility to complete your work.  To hold the funnel upside-down means that even with additional amount of energy you will lag far behind.

Heriniaina Ralaivaha and his experimental view on solidarity

Funnel, solidarity, and society

Mr. Ralaivaha proposes the following reading: To hold the funnel the normal, right way symbolizes a well-orchestred social group, supporting all member. Everybody is conscient that his effort will contribute to the well-being of the group, and to his own as well. The application of ‘solidarity’ allows a relatively easy performance of the work the group aims to. The productivity – in a large sense, including all kind of social, artistic, educational or material goods – is high, symbolized by the number of bottles filled. – To hold the funnel upside-down, however, means that the energy of the given group is not well canalized. A lot, if not most of all energy, of work, is futile and “drips” away, not contributing to the performance of that group. The productivity of this soiecty is fairly low.

To hold the funnel the right way, i.e. to use the secrets of ‘solidarity’, allows a group relatively easy to grow. If the virtues of solidarity are forgotten, i.e. if the funnel is hold the wrong way, the society will not progress.

Further, Ralaivaha even proposes a historical reading. Might the difference between the proper, and the wrong use of the funnels not stay for the important changes from pre-colonial to post-colonial society? But at this point it is perhaps better for everybody to start to reflect oneself about the possibilities to interpret the proposed experiment, and to develop even additional meanings.

Thank you Mr. Ralaivaha for your unusual presentation!

 

Mr. Heriniaina Ralaivaha

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.

                                                                       

17. Nov 2017

The crisis of 2009 is not over

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The disappearance of a hundred of files

Since several days a new affair brings back to public the lasting problem of 2009. The shootings near the presidential palace of Ambohitsorohitra, 7 February 2009, by palace guards aiming into a manifestation cost several dozens people’s live, while far more than 150 were injured. Since several years litigations are continuing.

Since Friday, 10 November, a volume containing about a hundred of files was stolen by a lawyer trainee at the main court-house in Anosy, Antananarivo, says Aimée Raholihasindrahona, the chief judicial officer of the appellate tribunal. The trainee was, according to the newspaper ‘L’Express’ accompanied by a politician, whose name was not given. The trainee requested first a document from 2010. While the official in charge war absent for a moment, the trainee vanished with the volume. The files are said to be related to the period July to September 2010, a period when a process was made against former president Marc Ravalomanana (in absentia) and a number of other persons, including Ralitera Andrianandraina (former chief of security for the constitutional court).

At present, the trainee ist detained in prison, in Antanimora, while an order or proesecution is expected, to find the suspected politician.

The case of Mr. Ralitera Andrianandraina

Coincidentally, a judgment in the case of Mr. Andrianandraina was awaited on Monday, 10 November, at the appellate tribunal. While a garnishment of wages was issued recently against him, destined for recompensation of the victims of 2009, he raised an objection which should have been judged. As the files are stolen, the judgment is reported on 11 December.

These incidents are exemplary, as they spotlight of how far from completed the legal dispute on the tragic 2009 shooting is, and how sensible the issues concerned for the public, and for national reconiliation.

L’Express de Madagascar, 13 November 2017

 

L’Express de Madagascar, 13 November 2017, p. 11

L’Express de Madagascar, 14 November 2017, p. 3

Memorial for the victims of 7 February 2009, nearAmbohitsohorita palace

 

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.

                                                          

17. Nov 2017

Upcoming: A public event on human rights

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Human rights, global normativity and Madagascar

Tomorrow, Saturday 19 November 2017, a public event will take place at the court of the town hall of the city of Antananarivo. Announced as “Yearly seminary of the civil society”, this event intends to disseminate the important issue of human rights and its elaboration within society. Following the publicity, actors working in this field will be present and ready for contact.

While such events are nothing spectacular and integral part of most modern, open societies, I take advantage of this occasion to point out the special and still rather new weight on Malagasy society, public discourse and politics. In fact, the idea of universal human rights has become a recognized, very well accepted meta concept of the global. In consequence, it is serving as background source, or as main rhetoric weapon for all those suffering under exploitation or working towards a more equal society.

On Madagascar, it is, among others, the rhetoric of national solidarity (fihavanana) and, even more, of the dina-justice (village conventions), which silently becomes related, in addition to established concepts, to such new ideas. When, for example, during a recent research period in August, the villagers near the town of Morondava (Menabe region) were complaining heavily about insecurity, corruption of police and tribunals, insisting upon their equal rights, like those in higher position or more affluent.

The propagation of universal rights is therefore, in a country with high inequality, much more than an event of simple rhetoric and well-known formula. Rather, it opens the door for claiming internationally accepted rights and to change society. Such interaction between the global and the local is an important ongoing process to accompany, and to analyse too, in Madagascar and elsewhere.

Have fun tomorrow and hopefully without too much rain!

L’Express de Madagascar, p.13

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.