For a few days now, the eyes of the Tananarivians have been focused on the highest hill in the city which houses the Rova, that is to say the royal enclosure in which the Queen’s Palace is located, several small traditional palaces, tombs royal or a royal chapel. The site, historic and sacred, is part of a program of major works that are already problematic.
The major rehabilitation works were ordered by the Madagascan president with a view to celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the country’s independence on June 26.
The problem is that in addition to renovating the Queen’s Palace, a concrete amphitheater at the foot of the iconic building is being built. This work, looking like a Roman colosseum, is supposed to host popular and cultural representations of the country’s history. For its detractors, it is sacrilege. Several petitions have been launched online in the past two days. One of them collected more than 8,200 signatures in less than 24 hours.
” Faced with cultural genocide resulting in the construction of a Colosseum within the Rova […], we, Madagascan citizens from the 4 corners of the globe, demand the immediate stop of the works and the demolition of the incriminated building ” It is with these words that the online petition begins which, for 48 hours, has frightened the Malagasy social networks.
At the heart of the controversy is, in fact, the ” Kianja Masoandro “, An all-concrete arena with a capacity of 400, whose construction began in early February. The main structure should be delivered by June 26, says French manufacturer Colas.
To counter the increasingly sharp criticism, the Minister of Culture invited the journalists to the site on Friday 22 May. ” No, this arena was not built to feed the ego or respond to a whim of the President of the Republic. No, this is not the suicide of the national heritage “, She hammered.
The choice of building was thought to allow telling stories from the history of the country “ in an educational way ” As for its architecture, the Minister underlines that the arches of the arena reflect those which decorate the Queen’s Palace. Decisions, finally recalls the Minister, which have all been validated by a scientific committee made up of specialists: historians, archaeologists or even museologists.
Present on the spot, none of the ten members of this famous committee did not wish to speak, being an astonishing silence for a group of people presented as free and independent.
Last March, several associations had already alerted, in writing, the management of the Unesco World Heritage Center of the incongruity of the project and of the difficulty of certain members of the committee to be heard by a President of the Republic described as ” inflexible in the face of abundantly provided arguments and explanations ” To avoid ” an open crisis “with the presidency, some of the members then ended up” deem it wiser to be silent ”
Since 2016, the Upper Town of Antananarivo and therefore its Rova have been in the running for a UNESCO World Heritage listing. This modern arena on a historic hill shuffles the cards and adds a little more difficulty to demonstrate the “ outstanding universal value ” places.
The full amount of the renovation of the Rova and the construction of this arena have not yet been released, but the minister said: ” everything was funded from the Malagasy state budget alone to mark its sovereignty ”
The basic idea of the President of the Republic for Rovan’Antananarivo, when it is rebuilt, is that it is a symbol of Madagascar’s sovereignty, of our regained independence.
“A symbol of the sovereignty of Madagascar”
With our correspondent in Antananarivo,