Andrianampoinimerina bigraphy, stories - King of Imerina

Andrianampoinimerina : biography

ca. 1745 - 1810

Ruling between 1787–1810, Andrianampoinimerina (Andriana ampoin'Imerina, "The-King-Wished-by-Imerina"), born Ramboasalama or Ramboasalamarazaka at Ambohimanga around 1745 (later, also known as Nampoina, Imboasalama, and Ny Ombalehibemaso - The Big-Eyed Bull), initiated the unification of Madagascar under Merina rule and is considered one of the greatest military and political leaders in Madagascar history.

Andrianampoinimerina deposed his uncle, King Andrianjafy (1770–1787) of Imerina Avarandrano (Northern Imerina), one of four continually warring principalities that emerged upon the division of the historically unified Imerina kingdom by King Andriamasinavalona a century before. Andrianampoinimerina established his capital at the fortified town of Ambohimanga, a site of great spiritual, cultural and political significance that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and where the king's original royal lodgings can still be visited today. From this position, he progressively extended his domain first over all Imerina, then over the greater Highlands, absorbing the Betsileo, Sihanaka, Bezanozano and Bara territories. He died after reigning for 23 years. His reign formed the basis for the unification of Madagascar, which was almost achieved under his son Radama I.


Historical context

For almost a century, from the end of the reign of King Ralambo (1575–1600) to King Andriamasinavalona (1675–1710), the part of the Highlands controlled by the Merina had developed, witnessed economic growth, and enjoyed a certain civil peace. However, the unity of Imerina collapsed after Andriamasinavalona divided Imerina amongst his four favorite sons, leading to frequent wars that weakened the ability of subsequent princes to respond effectively to the pressures of slave trading and a growing population.

Coup against King Andrianjafy

In 1787, at 42 years old, Andrianampoinimerina incited a rebellion against Andrianjafy, with the help of the commoners' Council of Elders and those sold into slavery. After the success of the coup, which compelled Andrianjafy to flee, the new King adopted his ruling name, Andrianampoinimerina. Following his ouster from the town of Ambohimanga, Andrianjafy continued fighting his nephew from his southern headquarters Ilafy. Andrianampoinimerina reached a treaty with the rival Merina town of Antananarivo in 1786, which allowed him to fully concentrate on reuniting Imerina. The conflict between Andrianampoinimerina and Andrianjafy finally ended in 1790 when the former King was either killed in Ilafy or died in exile in Antananarivo. Andrianampoinimerina conquered Antananarivo in 1792, and subsequently, he moved the capital of the Merina empire there; however, Ambohimanga remains among the most important spiritual and cultural sites in Madagascar.

Reunification of Imerina

Continuing his conquests in the 1790s, Andrianampoinimerina began establishing control over a comparatively large part of the highlands of Madagascar including the twelve sacred hills of Imerina. He soon proclaimed his ambition to become the sole King of Madagascar, using the Merina hain-teny metaphoric style to announce to the people of Ambohimanga: "The sea is the limit of my ricefield" (Ny ranomasina no valam-parihiko). Andrianampoinimerina centralized power into his own hands and amassed European firearms. This allowed him to gradually conquer neighboring Merina principalities before moving on to those of the Vakinankaratra and Betsileo.

Territorial expansion

It is notable that Andrianampoinimerina achieved many of his victories by relying heavily on shrewd diplomacy and alliance treaties, only resorting to military conquest when it was essential and unavoidable. He liked to remind his officers of one of his favorite principles: "Force is weaker than the spirit" (Ny hery tsy mahaleo ny fanahy). The extension of his rule allowed Andrianampoinimerina to stop paying tribute to the Sakalava kingdom, the western clan who had continuously disrupted life the Malagasy central highlands by slave hunting.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine