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The "Gold Fever"in Madagascar.

A correspondent of the "Standard" who has returned to Madagascar after an absence of three years, found gold, and scarcely anything but gold, the topic of the day. Writing from Antananarivo on February 28th, the correspondent says :— I had not been many hours at Tamatave ere I saw practical evidence of the belief of this. I found the town overrun with poor emigrants, chiefiy from Mauritius and Bourbon, and every incoming steamer adding to the number. The last French mail boat arrived ere my departure fqtf the capital, and brought over 120 men, women, and children, most of whom were almost penniless. Such a flotsam and jetsam of helpless humanity I have seldom seen. They are under the impression i they have come to an Eldorado; but "it does not take long after landing here to find out our mistake. Fortunately for these adventures; food is plentiful and cheap, especially in the country, and they can live on very little. On ray journey to the capital I passed a .poor fellow on the tramp to the goldfields of Maeratanariyo, on the west coast. He told me he had heard so often the cry of "Gold, heaps of,gold, being found, and only waiting for the getting "sin.Madagascar, he had been tempted to come and try his luck. He had formerly been in the police force of Mauritius, and being outjj of employment, he was advised to Frove what ne had heard so much about, should imagine him to be almost penniless, as he lived just as the natives do, and lodged amongst them in the villages he passed through. He was a fine, goodlooking fellow, and I felt sorry for the hardships he was undergoing, and was glad to assist him with some of my spare provisions. But these are not the people required here as yet. What the country greatly needs is a number of experienced Australian and Transvaal diggers, with their strength and knowledge of the situation, to come and make a good headway for others to follow.

Concerning the location and distribu-l tion of the gold there are numberless stories of places in various parts of the country; and I was shown a fine specimen from near Tamatave, 1 on the East Coast. Some enthusiasts are ready to believe that the island will prove another Eldorado. People, are making large purchases. An Englishman who has just arrived at the capital from the country told me that on his journey up he saw thousands of natives working gold in various places on account of the Government. It is forced labor, and they have not only to work on .week days but on Sundays, too. Children even are taken from the schools for this work. I myself went out to the west of the capital, about 15 miles, yeßterday, to a place where the Government have been working gold—

operations are suspended at present—to see where they have been working, and I collected a grain of gold after washing a little earth on a plate. in a stream close by. There are signs everywhere of the riches to be gathered from the earth of this fine virgin country. The Madagascar Government is bound to open up the island. They are, of course, much in need of money, the . French disturbance having impoverished them to a great extent,

I' had not been long at the capital ere I noticed what had similarly struck me on landing at Tamatave—namely, that the French influence is making, itself very strongly felt in those towns, which, after, the earnest labors of our English and other Protestant missionaries for so many years, must be a disheartening spectacle to them. One very noticeable change is in the slave market. Formerly not m< Vi than 20, or at most 3Q, slaves were ever exposed there for pale, and transactions took place in such a quiet way that they were not noticed ; indeed, the natives -appeared ashamed to acknowledge complicity in slave-trading. But when I .^visited the market the other day over 200 slaves of both sexes, men, women, and

■ children, were on offer, and there was libtle or no reluctance on the part of the owners to quote prices. Dancing, also, in European fashion is now the order- of the day. The French Resident gives

balls, inviting the Malagasy aristocracy, the" Prime Minister and the Queen's Ladies-in-Waiting taking a very active part, and' giving balls themselves in return.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900620.2.6

Bibliographic details

The "Gold Fever"in Madagascar., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2446, 20 June 1890

Word Count
744

The "Gold Fever"in Madagascar. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2446, 20 June 1890

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