Archive pour juin, 2013


Independence Day

In the wake of the 26th of June which marks the day Madagascar gained independence from France in 1960, one cannot help but reminisce. Singing the anthem, raising the flag, lightening up lanterns and watching fireworks, these are the traditions to celebrate independence. A number of historical dates led to this momentous day. One of these memorable dates was the Malagasy uprising of 29 March 1947 when Malagasy nationalist known as the “Mouvement Democratique de la Renovation Malgache”, MDRM formed in 1946 with the ultimate objective of independence. The MDRM revolt against the French rule resulted in an estimate of 60 000 to 80 000 casualties, many say these numbers are an under-estimation and still today, stories of humiliating and barbaric killings of innocent Malagasy civilians remain a sensitive topic of conversation. Even so, Malagasy are aware that they suffered in the fight for the right to self-determination.

The Right to Determine our Destiny

In essence, the right to self-determination is the right of a people to determine its own destiny. According to this principle the people is empowered to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development. Quoting, Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, a prominent author and practitioner in the field of international relations : « No other concept is as powerful, visceral, emotional, unruly, as steep in creating aspirations and hopes as self-determination. » All peoples have the right to self-determination. This powerful concept was particularly significant for colonized nations, such as Madagascar around 1960s. This right to self-determination has been recognized in international law as a right of process belonging to peoples and not to states or governments.

Self-determination is not mere abstract theory as it is embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Declaration of Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States, the Helsinki Final Act, the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and affirmed by the International Court of Justice in the Namibia case, the Western Sahara case, and the East Timor case. These demonstrate the universal recognition of the principle of self-determination as an integral part of human rights law which has a universal application.

Truly Independent?

In early 1960s, history books talk of a “spirit of political reconciliation” in Madagascar. Independence became a reality and Tsiranana, the first Malagasy President began a regime which maintained strong economic ties with France. A tie we never seem to let loose of as various Presidents succeeded Tsiranana.

The principle of self-determination provides for the Malagasy people to choose its political status and to determine its form of economic, cultural and social development. Theoretically, the core of the principle lies in the right of choice. In practice, however, the outcome of self-determination will affect the attitude of governments towards the actual claim. Indeed, fragile and weakened African nations, like Madagascar opted to maintain strong ties with the West post-colonial rule. This was not all too detrimental and may even have been necessary. Sadly, occasions and deals where nations like Madagascar benefited are rare, if they do, the Malagasy rarely see how these deals have improved their living conditions. Madagascar is scared with a no-win economic relationship with the West gravely threatening its natural resources thus its economic, political and social status.

Globalisation, Neocolonialism, Africa and Madagascar

Free spirited artist Imany sings the painful truth when she declares “Africa has the shape of a broken heart and the heart of a broken land”. She continues by painting an all too often African reality singing : “a land that fell from heaven straight to hell.” This is a perfect illustration of a continent blessed and cursed with its own riches. Take, the Democratic Republic of Congo for instance, it also gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Yet, at this very moment, fathers, mothers and children risk their lives in a land victim of continuous and ongoing conflict which already cost the lives of approximately 3 to 6 million lives.

When it comes to the enormous wealth in natural resources on the African continent, Madagascar is not lacking. Madagascar, shaped like an angel’s footprint has similarly been blessed and cursed with an abundance of mismanaged, exploited and plundered natural resources. Left to the common fate of African nations as one of the poorest countries in the World. Globalisation allows us to travel, to enjoy a wider variety of educational resources, the use of Internet and other technologies and awareness of pressing issues such as fight against HIV – AIDS. However, it also has some detrimental consequences that have significantly impacted the developing world. ‘Neocolonialism’ or ‘new-colonialism’ describes the re-colonisation of Africa through corporate financial arrangements backed up by Western countries, or perhaps dare it be said – coercions and bribes are extracting the wealth from the continent as opposed to guns during the era of colonialisation. Although the wealth of natural resources has the potential to help eradicate poverty, it does not take long to understand that this opportunity, impacted by globalisation, failed to materialize. Instead Madagascar, like the continent is degenerating.

Celebration Time

At the same time, it is recognized that compliance with the right of self-determination is a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of other human rights and fundamental freedoms, be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural. Let us simply bear in mind some of the reality we live in and when the occasion presents itself to act upon it so as to better our lives we should not hesitate. Be it upon negotiating a “just” deal with another corporation or “refusing bribes” for the exploitation of our natural resources. As globalisation infiltrates further in our way of life, Madagascar and Malagasy must make more effort to keep up with the changes. In spite of the fact that we may be politically independent and questionably so economically, the 26th of June remains and should remain a day of celebration. Malagasy lives were lost in the past to affirm our self-determination and we should celebrate to honor those who fought for our independence.

Reporting from Brussels


Nelson Mandela See:    Mandela’s first appearance as a free man

“(…) Mandela is like Moses, leading the Israelites. No more slaves now” confessed Thembeni Sibeko a Soweto resident to the BBC.

From Sacrifices to Victory

Now back in his home reportedly on life support and while ailing from a lung infection in hospital, South Africa and the World panics at the thought of a World without Nelson Mandela. His bedside support stretches beyond borders. Understandably so, who would ever want to let go of such a man? Once persecuted for his fight to end apartheid in South Africa then jailed for 27 years on Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and later Victor Verster Prison and stepped down as President in 1999; Nelson Mandela symbolizes the beauty of the struggles and victory of activism. He was expelled while studying for a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University College of Fort Hare because he had joined a student protest, he was arrested with 156 other activists and charged with treason in 1956. His life was filled with sacrifices for his country but empowered by his dream of a democratic South Africa and following his release as he was found not guilty, Mandela continued working towards his vision to take his country from an apartheid government to a peaceful multi-racial democracy. His beginnings were marked by a commitment to non-violent protests, determined to change the bitter situation of his people, he co-founded the armed struggle against apartheid “Umkhonto we Sizwe” – Spear of the Nations in 1961. Together with the South African Communist Party, they led a bombing campaign against government targets. These campaigns led to his arrest in 1962 and his conviction of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Mandela spent 27 years in jail until he was elected as the first black President of a traumatized South Africa from apartheid in 1990. Mandela play a leading role in the drive for peace and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

When is the Right Time to Act ?

The intentional action to bring about social change, political change, or economic justice are the very definitions of activism. Activism can take a wide range of forms; from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism, rallies, blogging and street marches, strikes, hunger strikes, or even guerrilla tactics. Each type of activism have their strength and weaknesses and can be manifested through and by different agents. You and I are the agents: reformers, citizens, in other situations : rebels. From founding the “Spear of the Nation” to speaking of “Ubuntu” or togetherness, Mandela’s activism was shaped according to the situation he wanted to change. Mandela is both a guide, an inspiration and a honourable political leader. His ultimate goal was to lead South Africa to a smoother transition to peace even following the bitter and painful scars of apartheid. Mandela’s life was not of smooth sailing but he achieved his dream of equality against apartheid. Many valuable lessons can be learned from his relentless dedication to activism. Even as a highly valued political leader, Mandela cleverly used his position to bring about change. He was instrumental in appealing for help to end the civil war in Burundi before the United Nations Security Council in 2000, signing the Geneva Accord for peace in the Middle East in 2005 and promoting awareness for global issues such as AIDS. Depending on the situation, one form of activism may be more effective than another. In this sense, it is crucial to identify which route to embark on to achieve your goal, to effectively advocate and stand for your vision. Identifying to right form of activism is key its effectiveness and outcome.

Mandela – the Inspiration, Madagascar – the Opportunity

As Madagascar faces its current political crisis, it is not the time to lose hope and sulk in desperation. Instead, let us be led by your vision for Madagascar’s future and act towards it. Tailoring our activism to the  changing situations to optimise our results. A recent illustration took place on 26 of June in Antananarivo, when in an era absorbed by the influence of social media reigns a group known as « Wake Up Madagascar » – WUM organised a flashmob on the symbolic Independence Day. WUM is a platform that empowers citizens to act for Madagascar led by their visions and perception of a better Madagascar, be it political stability or better living conditions. WUM made headlines for their activism in the streets of Antananarivo, certainly raising awareness that Malagasy are concerned about their destiny and are ready and willing to work to improve it. This exemplary demonstration of solidarity over the country’s future was an activism that was well timed and suited to the situation. Undeniably, we, Malagasy have the opportunity to aspire from the Mandela’s greatness. One does not need to be “great”, “rich” or “important” to make a difference and act for change. Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela was born in a small South African village, grew up in humble homes, thrown out as a student, struggled to finish his academia, left by his first wife because of his activism, against all odds he became one of the greatest African leaders in history and above all made activism his lifetime career. There won’t be a next Mandela, for his achievements will forever be unique. Every aspiration, purpose, dream have valuable merits. Faced with an ongoing political crisis; we, Malagasy are to stand firm and work towards much needed reforms for our country. These changes are achievable in every capacity, be it, as simple as, teaching a child not to throw a wrapper in the street or as bold as calling the attention of leaders to fulfil their social contract.

Pakysse encourages Malagasy to shape their own destiny and pays tribute to an admirable man: Nelson Mandela.

Reporting from the Hague


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