Revolt in Madagascar

In 1947, fraught Anglo-French relations came to a head in the crucible of the Indian Ocean with the outbreak of Madagascar’s Malagasy Uprising.

R.T. Howard | Published in 29 Mar 2017
Monument commemorating the 1947 Malagasy Uprising, 2004. Robin Taylor (CC BY 2.0).

When violence suddenly broke out in the colony of Madagascar in March 1947, French officials were convinced they knew who was stirring up the trouble. It was not just communists and nationalists who were to blame, they argued, but also the agents and influence of France’s two supposed allies: ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Britain and America. 

It is this that makes the story of the brief but bloody Madagascan Revolt a curiously pertinent one. France’s relations with Britain have come under increased scrutiny since the Brexit vote, which has generated so much public discussion and interest in the old rivalries between the two countries, and the ‘Great Game’ between them on ‘the Red Island’, off Africa’s south-eastern coast, illustrates much about those relations.

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