Long ago the farmers in Andrianampoinimerina’s kingdom came to their ruler for help with their problem. They had a huge surplus of crops because there simply weren’t enough citizens nearby to buy them. Andrianampoinimerina had a solution.
He decreed that a special place be designated as a site for selling or exchanging surplus items that farmers or craftsmen had. These were the first markets in Madagascar (more on that claim below) and Andrianampoinimerina established the original three sites and days: Thursdays (the Merina equivalent of course) at Ambohimanga, Fridays at Tananarive and Saturdays at Namehana.
Later he adds another market at Ilanifasana, to be open on Sundays.
This myth provides an excellent opportunity to look at the way royal families in various places around the world and in various time periods elevated themselves as gods, complete with myths centering around them and their “great” accomplishments.
Andrianampoinimerina’s reign began in 1787, and even by then markets had been around in Madagascar for several centuries at least. Just like the Roman Caesars, the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Japanese Emperors and countless other aristocrats who conveyed “godhood” on themselves or their families, Andrianampoinimerina, as the ruler, had the cultural, political and military influence to introduce and enforce such myths.
Myths of this kind are even more helpful as time moves along, especially if the same dynasty remains in power. Eventually there will be no more citizens alive who remember the time BEFORE the fictional “achievements” of these self-styled divinities. Again we see how religion/ mythology and politics go hand in hand. Andrianampoinimerina would later be prayed to and revered as the establisher of markets on top of his equally fictional crow-related adventures.
We are all familiar with how religions and governments enforce such myths. Suppose someone in the land of the Merina objected to this particular myth and said “But my grandfather remembers markets from a time before Andrianampoinimerina was the king.” Accusations of heresy would be followed up by accusations of treason in cases like this where the religious powers were also the governmental powers. It’s the same concept as Orwell’s “We have always been at war with Eastasia.” The technology changes, but the oppressive ways of the ruling class never do.
The recently deceased dictator Kim Jong IL is a good modern-day example. In our more rational (in general) age, he did not claim godhood but did claim that he and his family were responsible for countless scientific, cultural and historical acheivements that they were NOT responsible for. Citizens lacked the power to challenge those myths, and so they became accepted like so much other false history has been for ages in every corner of the world. As Napoleon said “History is a set of lies agreed upon.”
This concept was understood at least as far back as Aristophanes’ political satire The Birds. In that comedy when the birds establish a kingdom of their own in Cloudcuckooland the first thing they do is rewrite mythology to make themselves the center of a new cosmology. They decree that THEY were responsible for creation, not the Greek gods and proceed from there with their new “Bird-centric” belief system .
One of my reasons for being so devoted to iconoclastic irreverence is because of the dangers of allowing religious or political myths to go unchallenged. Consider this an example for those commentors who often tell me they don’t get my joint obsessions with mythology AND with political satire.
I’LL BE EXAMINING ADDITIONAL MERINO DEITIES IN A FEW DAYS.
FOR THE MAIN LIST OF MERINA DEITIES CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2015/02/24/top-figures-in-merina-mythology/
FOR SIMILAR ARTICLES AND MORE OF THE TOP LISTS FROM BALLADEER’S BLOG CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/top-lists/
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