Thursday , 1 December 2022
Madagascar wants to recover its position in the family of French speaking countries. The country' second official language might get through in the education system and in the administration, remains however very far from being spoken on a daily basis by every single Madagascan. The number computed and reported by Clement Duhaime, Administrator of the international organization of the French speaking countries, is surprisingly low: only 1.5 million out of the Malagasy population read, write and speak French at all. In other words, the language of Moliere actually scores no better than any other foreign language in the education as a matter of fact. Still, the Malagasy President, as a good French-speaking diplomat, expects the Great Isle to be welcome at the summit of the OIF in 2016.

Madagascar longing for a comeback among the French speaking countries

The current ruling power intends to do what it takes and expects to make up for the year 2010’s lost opportunity, the meeting of the French speaking countries having been withdrawn from Madagascar following the year 2009’s political putsch and the transitional ruling power’s failure to gain international acknowledgement. For the moment, only Madagascar and Haiti submitted applications to host the summit in 2016. The OIF administrator appreciated President Hery Rajaonarimampianina’s strong motivation as he stated to him “I need this Summit “. Political and diplomatic objectives put aside, this major international event is likely to have some positive impact on the local educational and cultural fields. The OIF wants to engage local school masters into a training program in order to improve the French language teaching in Madagascar, “with respect of the Malagasy language “.   
The young Madagascans learn the French language at school and pupils are supposed to have mastered it when leaving the elementary level. 60% of the island’s 22 millions of people can read, namely about 13 millions individuals,  and 1.5 million of them do master French for real. This figure is not scandalous in anything since at least a half of the educated population understands and reads French. This language is not completely alien to the Malagasy at all. It is to be seen everywhere in the everyday life, on air, online, in the trade… It has been taking the world of media a long time to realize that newspapers written  in Malagasy are basically not only dedicated to readers who do not read French, the favorite language to advertisers.   
The necessary background to understand and communicate in the most basic way constitutes the leading threshold used as index in the statistics. “Though I do not speak French very well, I can understand. The boss would never have accepted to let me run his shop otherwise”, declared Rova, 28 years old, employee in an artisanal products shop. “Negotiating on prices is only the beginning. Products and how and where they are manufactured must be detailed”, she said. Mastering the French language remains a standard factor to be enrolled in any local company though. “Applicants to positions like business manager or accountant generally do not need to detail their French language skills in their resume. However, the interview is carried out in French nearly all the time. Some jobs, involving a high level of communication, require a perfect mastery of this language”, explained a consultant in human resources management.   
Having a very good command of the French language might help when required degrees do not prove enough. Ando Lalaina, 27 years old, only passed her A-level, earns however wages worth that of a university graduate. “The agency I am working for recruited highly graduated people by then. I plucked up my courage, patched a good application letter up, performed the best I could during the interview and that’s it, I am now serving as senior editor”, she proudly told. “I have a very good knowledge of French culture and it does help in my job”, she added.   
“Ridelux “, “réparasion amorticeur “, “coifure “, “avendre “, “toilette “… mistakes in French language are actually as so common as the language itself is. A mutation in many ways similar to what happened in the Caribbean islands has long been developing. The timely introduction of French words into Malagasy sentences has produced a mixture unofficially named” vary amin’anana”. “Neither French nor Malagasy is being mastered correctly” regretted Mrs. Honorine, French language professor over the latest two decades. TV plays a significant part in this phenomenon. When major educated figures are no longer able to make a sentence in Malagasy without ten French words in support, what is then left of our hopes? ” she sadly said. Her expertise leads her to believe that alternating both languages without any of them encroaching on the other would be the best solution to learners… and to the Prime minister as well. He had been abroad over the latest 30 years. His audience would comprehensively not mind having him speaking French instead of the official Malagasy language, provided that he refrains from desecrating both languages at once the way he does now. On the other hand, Roger Kolo did not drop a thing from his perfect command of his native sakalava country’s dialect… perhaps an evidence that a mother tongue has its roots growing down deep into someone’s very identity.