One of Africa’s strongest 19th century rulers, who refused to accommodate European encroachment, was Queen Ranavalona I. The calculating strategist inherited the throne in 1828 and ruled Madagascar for more than 30 years. Unlike her predecessor, known for striking alliances that allowed the introduction of European culture into society, Ranavalona I was fiercely protective of her ancestral values and limited the practice of foreign customs, including Christianity, in Madagascar. That aspect of her reign is why Queen Ranavalona I is often disparaged in historical literature.
During her reign, Ranavalona I strategically derailed and militarily defeated multiple French and British attempts to colonize the large island nation. Her cultural integrity, self-reliance, and prudent military command kept Madagascar free and sovereign throughout her reign.
Queen Ranavalona I famously advised those who would criticize her to “Never say, ‘she is only a feeble and ignorant woman, how can she rule such a vast empire?’ I will rule here, to the good future of my people and the glory of my name! I will worship no gods but those of my ancestors. The ocean shall be the boundary of my realm, and I will cede the thickness of one hair of my realm!”
Click here to learn more about Queen Ranavalona I, the brilliant political, cultural, and military strategist who preserved Madagascar’s independence. Be reminded that cultural integrity is powerful.