Ny Avana Ramanantoanina

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Ny Avana Ramanantoanina
Born1891 (1891)
Ambatofotsy, Madagascar
Died1940 (aged 48–49)
Antananarivo, Madagascar
OccupationPoet, writer

Ny Avana Ramanantoanina (1891–1940)[1] is among the most celebrated literary artists of Madagascar. He is principally renowned for his poetry, but also wrote stories and plays. He wrote during the colonial period[2] and is considered to have been the first Malagasy writer to weave political messages into his work.[1] He wrote primarily in the Malagasy language. A contemporary of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, who is commonly cited as the first African poet to write according to Western conventions, Ramanantoanina was highly critical of the French colonial authority.[2] He was a member of the secret nationalist organization Vy Vato Sakelika, and was exiled to Mayotte in the Comoros when the organization was banned by the French colonial authority in 1917.[1] His writings were consequently banned and were not reprinted until the 1980s in Madagascar. As a result, his writings are relatively less well known in international literary circles than those of Rabearivelo.[2]

Ramanantoanina was born in 1891 in Ambatofotsy, a suburb of Antananarivo in central Madagascar,[3] to a family that belonged to the former Merina aristocracy that had been dissolved upon French colonization in 1896.[4] After completing his education in a private Protestant school, Ramanantoanina began writing and publishing his work in several local literary journals at the age of 16 under the pen name Ny Avana (rainbow).[1] He gained popularity with his early publication Chant de fiancailles (Wedding Engagement Song) in 1907.[3]

Ramanantoanina was among the first generation of Malagasy poets to attempt to develop a structure and theory of Malagasy language poetry, who would be termed Ny Mpanoratra zokiny (The Elders) by later generations of Malagasy literary artists.[4] His work drew upon the traditional Malagasy poetic form of hainteny, integrating standard characteristics the form such as embona (nostalgia) and hanina (longing) into his poems as a means to promote the unity of the Malagasy people and encourage a return to traditional values.[5]

After returning from exile in Comoros[1] in 1922,[4] he was excluded from opportunities for a lucrative career with the colonial government, and instead earned a modest living as a clerk in a book shop in the capital city.[1] His works during this period became increasingly characterized by themes of disillusionment.[6] He founded a literary movement called Mitady ny Very (Search for Lost Values), and on 5 August 1931 he launched a literary journal called Fandrosoam-baovao (New Progress) with fellow writers Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo and Charles Rajoelisolo.[7][4] He died in 1940 in Antananarivo.[3]

After national independence in 1960, his writings were promoted nationally as evidence of the nationalist sentiment of the Malagasy elite in Antananarivo during colonization.[1] There is a street named after him in Antananarivo.[8]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f g Andrzejewski, Piłaszewicz & Tyloch 1985, p. 454.
  2. ^ a b c Adejunmobi 2004, p. 48.
  3. ^ a b c "Ramanantoanina, dit Ny Avana" (in French). Éditions Larousse. 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Riffard, Claire (2008). "Les débuts de la poésie écrite en langue malgache". Études Océan Indien (in French). 40-41: 81–100. doi:10.4000/oceanindien.1391. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  5. ^ Peek & Yankah 2003, p. 464.
  6. ^ Adejunmobi 2004, p. 29.
  7. ^ Ramamonjisoa 2008, p. 91.
  8. ^ "Street Map of Antananarivo". Openstreetmap.org. 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.