Inherently Lazy People...

If you were to look up "La corvée" in wikipedia, you would find that there is a whole section dedicated to Madagascar back when we were a French colony.

It is a paragraph taken from the book the "Drama of Madagascar" by Sonia E Howe.

Here is the money quote from the passage:

"There was the introduction of equitable taxation, so vital from the financial point of view; but also of such great political, moral and economic importance. It was the tangible proof of French authority having come to stay; it was the stimulus required to make an inherently lazy people work. Once they had learned to earn they would begin to spend, whereby commerce and industry would develop."

"Inherently lazy people", really ? As sipakv said: "I take exception to that."

Since I am indeed too....lazy to come up with my own rebuttal, I will let Rad Geek do the rebuttal for me.

Rad geek says:
" The Malagasy natives supported themselves well enough on Madagascar, through the sweat of their own brow, for centuries before ever a white man ever arrived. What the Governor-General succeeded in achieving within a few years was not to make Madagascar self-supporting, but rather to use a mixed system of robbery and involuntary servitude to coerce otherwise unwilling Malagasy workers [...] In 1938, a European historian writing about colonialism in Africa would think nothing of saying commonplaces like these, and if it is jarring to read now, it’s only because, in the intervening years, the most explicit statements of that mindset have been questioned, vigorously challenged, and cast down out of cultural favor in Europe and the U.S. But the mindset itself is not gone [...]"

So, is it then just the political correctness of the world now that would prevent that kind of discourse today or have we now firmly established that such general statements are unfounded?
I am always flabbergasted when people assume that people from one country are just lazier. We often hear that nonsense about here in the US about Frenchmen taking 2 hours lunch breaks in a Parisian cafe.
If we were to believe all those stereotypes, Gov. Galieni assuming that Malagasy people are lazy would be similar to Governor Spitzer asking to chair the sexual behavior and ethics committee.

Madagascar is somewhat reknown for being the country of "moramora" ( slow-paced life). Plenty would disagree on what a moramora lifestyle truly means.
As blogger friend IM reflects on the Malagasy identity, (I believe she would also argue that there is nothing lazy about Malagasy people) I will post later and point out to a few things that Malagasy people have achieved just the past few days all over the world . You know, let' see if the remnants of Howe and Gallieni's line of thinking ought to be removed from wikipedia for good :)....


  1. Kamo b zà na mamaky an 'ilay post aza (déjà insane mind elle sait que je boycotte ses romans mais elle sait que je l'adore donc elle dit rien). Fa maninona kay ianao foana no mahita an'izao tantara izao? Ny olona atsy miresaka momban'ny tenany sy ny kirarony, ianao resaka enjana be hotran'izao foana...
    Sous le contexte du colonialisme je t'accorde que le Vazaha est roi, ok..Maintenant tu dois penser comment exactement quand tu gères une entreprise à Mada et que tu paies tes salariés un "peu mieux" qu'ailleurs avec "un tout petit peu plus d'avantages" et que lelendemain de la paie ils se barrent avec les bottes de chantier. Tu as l'article 45 qui (en tant que compatriote) te fais dire "ah oui il y a un processus, il faut qu'ils apprennent les devoirs au travail, blbalbal." (Mia elle en sait toute une brique dessus). Tu as aussi le commandement 678 qui te fais sortir de tes gonds "Jsuis même pas un néo-colonialiste de chez **** et j'embauche as d'Expat et c'Est ce qui m'arrive". Bien entendu tu as la loi no 1 qui t'oblige à prendre sur toi et à refaire refaire...
    In 2008, Malagasy arn't lazy anymore at work, they sometimes just have problems in LIFE....

  2. "Hetra isan-dahy" était le nom politiquement correct de cette corvée. "Latasy" [la tache] était un synonyme courant qui est d'ailleurs resté pour signifier dans un contrat un paiement sur pièce ... sans considération de la durée. Dans l'utilisation courante "manao latasy" signifie à faire coûte que coute ... à boire jusqu'à la lie.

    D'ailleurs je trouve heureuse la coïncidence de ton post avec la publication d'un article sur ce même sujet à propos de la volonté du président Ra8 de la réactiver afin de pouvoir "renflouer" les caisses de l'états ... après avoir eu des largesses fiscales envers les gros contribuables, âprement discutés avec le FMI. Pour y inclure les femmes cela devient "hetra isan’olona" | madagascar-tribune.com - 13.03.08 >> je suis OT désolé ;)

  3. "Kamo b zà..."
    tsy hitako indray iny "intro subtile" iny..( subtile amin'ny teny malagasy ?)
    "resaka enjana be hotran'izao foana"
    non, mampimehy ange ilay izy fa tsy dia hoe masosotra lotra e. Mino aho fa vitsy ny tena mihevitra hoe kamo ny malagasy izao. Kamo izany luxe lotra.

    Fa inona io commandement 678 io ?

  4. >Tomavana,

    Oui, quelle concidence effectivement.
    De l'article que tu as mis en lien:
    "S’agissant du milieu rural, le « hetra isan’olona » rappelle malheureusement le passé colonial..."
    pas vraiment OT donc :)
    Autre phrase de l'article qui a du punch:
    "...Véritable sport national, les évasions fiscales restent une pratique qui gangrène l’économie nationale. De peur de se faire amputer des « aides budgétaires » des bailleurs de fonds, l’Etat a décidé racler les poches des artistes et des paysans pour joindre les deux bouts...."

  5. c'est pas une coïncidence, ils sont au courant que je suis allée payer mes taxes (and I see Mialy smiling and feeling mangiritsina "tu vas y passer!")
    To>championnat de la grammaire malagasy ato androany!
    commandement 678 = masochiste patriotique lol


  6. didy faha-678 = fitiavan-tanindrazana fampijalian-tena TNH [Toran'Ny Hehy]

  7. >Jo et To ( tsy mpira malaza taloha ve izany Jo & To izany ?)

    raha hoe TNH=LOL=MDR
    dia inona ny
    YDW!? ROFL( You Did What !? Rolling On the Floor Laughing )

  8. Voyons Lova ... ITHIN & TTNH bien sûr ;) [Inona Tsara Hoe Izato Nataonao & Tapa-Tsinay ny Hehy (na) TsipaTsipaky ny Hehy]

  9. TTNNCCK - Tena Tsy Nandeha Ny CoComment-Ko - tsy harako indray ity ray ity
    didy faha-679 = aza mandeha lavitra ny dwarf hippo

  10. >Jo,
    "Ho aiza ary moa izahay e :)!" (valy teny tamin'ny concert ny Bodo )

  11. Hey Lova
    tara be foana vao hitako ny posts fa tsy mi reload ny firefox !
    anyway thank you so much for posting this. was thinking of it myself but am too lazy these days. still crying over my taxes and the check I have to write. although already anticipating june and am ridiculously happy thinking of it.

  12. I absolutely agree with you Lova. I don't think that Malagasy are lazy (all I have to do is look at the majority of the population living off of farming and agriculture, the people lined up and going towards the city and markets at 3 a.m. to sell their goods...) nor that "vita gasy" is, as I'm repeatedly told, "vita ratsy" (I may have misspelled that!).

    I think what is happening now is more a question of "owe me-ism". I must admit I haven't lived here through the previous regime, but I think it seriously affected the way people live, think, and what they believe in (particularly pride in self and in what they achieve). Everyone that I know who employs (regardless of the level of employment) complains about one thing and it's professionalism.

    Thing is, I can explain why people are not motivated to do more, to surpass themselves, to believe in success through achievements... There's a dominating feeling I get that a lot who have suffered in the past 20 or so years now communicate in a way that "if you have and I don't, you owe me". It's logical - from their point of view, and I feel it's something that one sees all across the world - , the problem is that it does not solve the issue, nor does it promote progress.

    No one anywhere in the world is more dominantly lazy I feel. Of course, a conversation (yesterday night in fact) brought up the fact that in very hot weather... few are motivated to be very active! That's normal! Eliminate 100% of the air conditioners in the business offices in NYC and I doubt that anyone will be that productive in the summer!

    And I think everything is intertwined: health security, educational guarantees (the guarantees that if you study, you will have the level promised and you wont find yourself with a diploma that others - employers and such - will consider is not representative enough of your skills and knowledge). Someone I know had her brother in the hospital. 1 day in the hospital ended up costing 700,000 FMG. If one considers that the average MONTHLY salary is that... And that he had to stay in the hospital several days... What hopes do people have? What motivations?

  13. The "vita gasy" = "vita ratsy" is what I've been told repeatedly by contractors (for non-Malagasy speakers: that would be "made in Madagascar" = "made badly") who worked on my house, or on furnitures, etc. after I complained that it wasn't well done. They shrugged their shoulders and said: "what do you expect?" as in "it's all we can achieve". That's why I think there needs to be a movement to increase empowerment and self-confidence in the nation's population: you can achieve, you can surpass yourself, you can deal with criticism and it can be helpful...

  14. >sipakv "am too lazy these days"
    Joan: "kamo be..", Lova: "too lazy to.." So we can all agree that Malagasies may work hard but them fokosters are just a lost cause :D TNH !

    >IM, thank you so much for weighing in on this matter. I agree with you that if we, as malagasy, can assess our own effort objectively, it will be much easier to refute claims made by outsiders about our work.
    But it definitely starts with empowerment, responsibility and the pride of getting something done the right way.

  15. TNH
    I guess I am an inherently lazy person? lol.
    I once observed a Malagasy peasant working on his field with an "angady" under what must have been 110F near Morondava... And I cannot fathom why someone as clueless as a French colonialiste may deem him, or us, "inherently lazy".

    Interesting and insightful thought on the "you owe me-ism" mentality insanemind. And very true, if you are wearing a nice pair of shoes and you get mugged but some you owe me-ists, they often say it is "their turn" and think it is quite natural.

  16. sorry I meant "by some you owe me-ists"

  17. >sipakv
    agreed: IM's take on that weird dynamic between the "haves and the have-nots" deserves a whole new thread.

  18. Je suis heureux de constater une certaine tendance à la relecture en vue de s'approprier notre passé historique ... peut-être que Ra8 réfléchira à deux fois avant de relancer son cher concept "impôts ou travaux" pudiquement baptisé de "Hetra isan'olona" ? Car je crains que ce concept [de Ra8] se calque toujours sur les mêmes présupposé de "faire bosser les fainéants" :(

    "Des hommes et des femmes qui meurent par milliers ou par dizaine de milliers sur les chantiers publics lors de la construction de la ligne de chemin de fer Tananarive - Côte-Est ou encore les nombreuses morts lors du percement des tunnels d’Ambohidahy et d’Ambanidia. [...] S’il est prévu que les travailleurs soient rémunérés, force est de constater qu’ils ne touchent, au mieux, qu’un salaire de misère pour un travail très difficile." | Les Grands travaux, un des aspects de l’oppression coloniale madagascar-tribune.com - 08.04.2008 >>

  19. madagascar au travail ? Ca rappelle etrangement le letmotiv d'un president recemment marie a un top model tout cela :).

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