Fort Dauphin (Tôlanaro)

"A dreamy place..."

Libanona beach in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

"When these calabashes will be dry and I'm still not back, you'll be able to proclaim yourself". Thus spoke Raminia to his younger Andriadrakovatsy when he returned temporarily to Mecca to take his wealth. As in all legends, the latter could not wait and had to flee to Manafiafy, not far from the present Fort Dauphin, to escape the anger of the elder. Seized with remorse, he ceded all his lands four years later to go exile further north. Raminia, an elect of God, was born directly from the foam of the sea, and the whole country Antanosy claims it as a common ancestor.

The first days of the year 1613, the Nossa Senhora Da Esperanca set sail at Goa on the coast of Malabar with the instruction of His Majesty to set sail "on a great African island" where, to survive, wrecked compatriots had erected - probably between 1529 and 1545 - a building that would still be in fairly good condition. Captain Paulo Rodrigues Da Costa did manage to find the fort, recognized as the oldest permanent structure of Madagascar, 6,2 mi west of Fort Dauphin on the Efaho River. But he was more interested in a stele that adjoined him, “very beautiful in jasper marble, nine in height, two in breadth, and one in thickness, one of whose faces bears, finely engraved, the arms of the king of Portugal with his five besans of silver and his seven golden castles”. As for the shipwrecked, they hardly knew that the people called their captain Andriamasinoro, which would be the amalgam of "Andriana" and "Meu Senhor"…

Libanona beach in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

1674. The Black Code, which was to legalize the importation of thousands of slaves into the Réunion island, was institutionalized only half a century later. Driven by a revolt of tribes, the French of Fort Dauphin emigrated with some Malagasy Women on what was then Bourbon Island, and of which they constituted the very first settlement. Among the Women, Louise Tserana became the wife of Antoine Payet called "Laroche" and later remarried with Etienne Grondin. She is the ancestor of those whom the cleavages will call the "little whites"...

From this southeastern Riviera one could still long contemplate the turbulent past that teh nepenthes would symbolize. Flower called carnivorous but which would also have had the power to stop the tears of Telemaque, it imprisons without mercy in its cone the imprudent insects.

Fort Dauphin attracts. Ideally located between two bays at the foot of the Pic Saint Louis whose summit delivers one of the most grandiose panoramas of the island: Sainte Luce, Lokaro islands, Pointe Evatra, Anse Dolphine, Pointe Libanona, Baie des Galions , Cape Ranavalona, or Vinanibe lake.

It is recommended to go there as soon as possible, why not to Evatra with his fishing village between lagoon and ocean, the possibility of spending the night in a hut on stilts, an expedition to the islands with bonus memorable walks through canals lined with mangroves. Or at Sainte Luce which marks the start of the immense East Coast surprisingly rectilinear.

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Groupe SHTM, Air Fort Services, Kaleta, Evasion sans Frontière

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