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   The Merina Nation


      At the dawn of the third millennium, the world seems to look for a new direction. The development of globalization is threatening the very foundation of the old empires based upon nation-state centralism. Oppositely, new alliances based on more natural affinities, especially ethnic-based affinities which had been neglected or even prohibited, are now taking place. On the one hand, it is the fear of depersonalization that ignites the rehabilitation of one’s ancestral identities. On the other hand, the need to join with competent partners to face the present frontierless world requires a connection with those sharing the same fundamental interests. From now on, as distances constitute little barrier to exchanges, the prospect of new alliance can be invoked.

      One immediately does realize how much this new situation can be advantageous to the Nusantarian World. Until now, direct communications between the various countries belonging to this human group, spreading throughout two oceans over thousands years, were hindered by the distances. Moreover, during the last centuries, the European colonization and its aftermath discouraged us from pursuing such unity. For each newly independent country, the consolidation of national unity was its prime concerns.

In order to better define the role and the significance of Madagascar within the future of the nusantarian world, it is necessary to begin by recounting some of the major features of that world.
The Nusantarian Motherland


      Among the major ethnolinguistic groups in the world, the nusantarian family (also called “Malayo-Polynesian” or “Austronesian” by western authors) undeniably occupied the largest geographical territory prior the modern era. From east to west, this vast territory covered the area from Rapa-nui (Easter Island) to Madagascar, approximately 60% the circumference of the earth.From north to south, it included the island of Taiwan (Pekan, for the Nusantarian natives), the archipelago of Hawaii (from “Hava-iki” or “Little Java”, to recollect the ancestral homeland of the Polynesian), and New Zealand (Aotearoa in Maori language). Beyond this heartland, other regions were frequented by Nusantarians navigators, including the major part of the Pacific Ocean (to South America) and the Indonesian Ocean, as far as East Africa. [Madagascar, a part of Southeast Asian history

Within the Nusantarian World, Madagascar stands apart for many reasons. First, geographically, this island is the farthest from any other Nusantarian territory. Its closest neighbors, the islands around Sumatra, are more than 6,000 km distant. It is thus the only part situated in the western Indonesian Ocean, close to the African continent. Also by its size, Madagascar is relatively large. Among all the Nusantarian islands, it is second only to Kalimantan. However, its most surprising originality is found in its cultural and historical aspect.

In all likelihood, the island was discovered in the first centuries of the common era by seafarers from central Indonesia, related to the ancestors of the present people of Southeast Kalimantan.[The importance of Madagascar in the future of the Nusantarian World

The exceptional importance of Madagascar in the history of ancient nusantarian navigation in the Indonesian Ocean is perfectly known here. Moreover, it remind us that for 4,000 to 5,000 years, untill around the 10th century, the nusantarian peoples were the greatest navigators of the world. It is true that similars achievement can be attested to the peoples of the Oceania, but, as far as it concerns the Southeast Asia, Madagascar is ethnologically and historically closer to them. Oceania indeed belongs to the prehistory of Southeast Asia, while Madagascar is an integral part of its “old”, or more exactly, pre-modern history; from the glorious period prior the Islamisation, the arrival of Chinese emigrants and the influx of European colonizers. Furthermore, unlike the Indo-Javanese culture for example, the civilization of Madagascar developed out of the sole ethnic ingenuity of the Nusantarians, without any direct foreign influence. Even if words of sanskrit origin are found in Madagascar’s native languages, they all seem to have been borrowed through the old Malay.[Andriantefinanahary & Yanariak (October, 1997)


NOTES     [1] Cf. BELLWOOD, Peter, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific. The Prehistory of Southeast Asia and Oceania, Auckland : Collins, 1978. SLAMETMULJANA. Asal Bangsa dan Bahasa Nusantara. Jakarta : Balai Pustaka, 1975. (Back to Text)

     [2] Among others, cf. LING, Shun-sheng. A Study of the Raft, Outrigger, Double, and Deck Canoes of Ancient China, the Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Taipei: The Institute of Ethnology, 1970. BELLWOOD, Peter. Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Sydney: Academic Press, 1985 et “A Hypothesis for Austronesian Origins”, Asian Perspectives, XXXVI,1, 1984-1985: 107-117. BLUST, Robert. “The Austronesian Homeland: A Linguistic Perspective”,Asian Perspectives, XXXVI,1, 1984-1985: 45-67. REID, Lawrence A. “Benedict’s Austro-Tai Hypothesis – An Evaluation”, Asian Perspectives, XXXVI,1, 1984-1985: 19-34. ZHANG Guang-zhi. “Archaeology in the Southeastern Coastal China and the Origin of the Austronesian”, Nanyang Minzu Kaogu, 1987, 1: 1-14. XING, Gongwan. “On the Genealogical Relationship between Han Language (Chinese) and Austronesian Languages”, Minzu Yuwen, 3, 1991: 1-14.(Back to the text)

     [3] MANGUIN, Pierre-Yves, “The Southeast Asian Ship: An Historical Approach”, Journal of South-East Asian 0Studies, IX, 2, 1980: 266-276; “Sewn-plank Craft of South-East Asia. A Preliminary Survey”, in Sewn Planked Boats, Archaeological and Ethnographic papers, S.McGrail & E.Kentley, eds. Oxford, 1985:319-343. DORAN, Edwin Jr. Wangka: Austronesian Canoe Origin, Texas A .& M. University press, 1981. (Back to the text)

     [4] HADDON, A.C. & HORNELL, James, Canoes of Oceania, Honolulu: P.Bishop Museum, 1975. LEWIS, David, We the navigators. The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific, Canberra: Australian National University Press,1972. NEYRET, Jean. Les pirogues océaniennes, Paris: Musée de la Marine, 1976-1977. (Back to Text)

     [5] WURM, S.A. & HATTORI, Shiro, eds. Language Atlas of the Pacific area, Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 1981. KERAF, Gorys. Linguistik Bandingan Historis, Jakarta: Gramedia, 1984. (Back to Text)


     [6] Cf. HOWELLS, William. The Pacific Islanders, London, Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1973. BELLWOOS, Peter. 1978, op.cit. GLINKA, J.: “Racial History of Indonesia”, in Rassengeschichte der Menschheit, 8, Lieferung Asien I: Japan, Indonesien, Ozeanien, München: Oldenbourg, 1981: 79-113. (Back to Text)


     [7] Cf. DAHL, O.C. Malgache et Maanjan. Une comparaison linguistique. Oslo, 1951 et “La subdivision de la famille Barito et la place du malgache”, Acta Orientalia, 38, 1977: 77-134. (Back to Text)


     [8] WHEATLEY, Paul. The Golden Khersonese: Studies in the Historical Geography of the Malay Peninsula Before AD 1500, Kuala Lumpur, University of Malay Press, 1961. WOLTERS, Olivier W. Early Indonesian Commerce: A Study of the Origins of Srivijaya, Cornell U.P. 1967 et The Fall of Srivijaya in Malay History, Oxford U.P. 1970. MILLER, J.I. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire 29 B.C. to A.D. 641, Oxford, 1969. Nia KURNIA SHOLIFAT IRFAN,Kerajaan Sriwijaya, Jakarta: Girimukti Pasaka, 1983. (Back to Text)

     [9] FERRAND, Gabriel. “Le K’ouen-louen et les anciennes navigations inter-océaniques dans les mers du sud”, Journal Asiatique, 1919, XIII:239-333, 431-492; XIV: 5-68, 201-241. “L’empire sumatranais de Srivijaya”, Journal Asiatique, 1922, 1-104, 161-246. (Back to Text)

     [10] MAUNY, Raymond. “The Wakwak and the Indonesian invasion in East Africa in 945 A.D.”, Studia (Lisboa), 1965, 15, pp.7-16. MOLLAT, Michel. “Les contacts historiques de l’Afrique et de Madagascar avec l’Asie du Sud et du Sud-Est: le rôle de l’Océan Indien”, Archipel, 21, 1981: 35-53. (Back to Text)

     [11] Cf. Tantara ny Andriana eto Madagascar, Antananarivo, 1908 : 62-64 et DELIVRE, Alain. L’histoire des rois d’Imerina. Interprétation d’une tradition orale, Paris: Klincksieck, 1974. (Back to Text)

     [12] KERN, R.A. Catalogus I. Catalogus van de Boeginese, tot de I La Galigo-cyclus behorende handschriften v. Jajasan Matthes te Makassar, Makassar, 1954. (Back to Text)


     [13] PARANAVITANA, S. Ceylon and Malaysia, Colombo, 1966. SIRISENA, W.M. Sri Lanka and South-East Asia: Political, Religious, and Cultural Relations from A.D. c. 1000 to c. 1500, Leiden 1978. (Back to Text)

     [14] Concerning others approaches, cf. ADELAAR, K.A. “Malay Influence on Malagasy: Linguistic and culture-historical Implications”, Oceanics Linguistics, 28,1, 1989: 1-46. DAHL, O.C. Migration from Kalimantan to Madagascar, Norwegian University press, 1991. (Back to Text)

     [15] DAHL, O.C. op. cit. 1951, 1991. BERNARD-THIERRY, Solange. “A propos des emprunts sanskrits en malgache”, Journal Asiatique, 1959: 311-348. (Back to Text)

     [16] On king Andrianampoinimerina and his works, cf. Tantara ny Andriana eto Madagascar, Antananarivo 1908. (Back to Text)

     [17] Cf. NAZIF, Mohamed. De val van het Rijk Merina. (La chute du Royaume de Merina), Buitenzorg (Bogor), 1928. TASRIF, S. Merina. Pasang surut Keradjaan Merina. Sedjarah sebuah negara jang didirikan oleh Perantau² Indonesia di Madagaskar. Jakarta : Balai Buku Media, 1966. (Back to Text)

One comment on “MADAGASCAR and the FUTURE of the NUSANTARIAN WORLD

  1. [...] MADAGASCAR and the FUTURE of the NUSANTARIAN WORLD [...]

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