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Martyrs’ Day in Madagascar 2024: Date, History and Significance

The annual commemoration of Martyrs' Day on March 29 is a very special event in the country. This day is also known as "Commemoration Day" and "Insurrection Day."

By Sanya Oberoi
Updated on :

Martyrs’ Day in Madagascar 2024: The annual commemoration of Martyrs’ Day on March 29 is a very special event in the country. This territory observes Martyrs Day as a public holiday in honour of all those who perished in the 1947 rebellion against the French. This day is also known as “Commemoration Day” and “Insurrection Day.”


The French ruled over the independent nation of Madagascar because they viewed the island as a prime strategic location. They overthrew Madagascar’s monarchy and imposed colonial rule. During the first year of French occupation, there were uprisings that were swiftly put down. Additionally, a nationalist movement developed, albeit under various names across the island.

World War II marked the beginning of a sea change. The French fought unsuccessfully against the British, and their post-war actions inflamed anti-French sentiment on the island. Multiple clandestine organizations, such as the Democratic Movement for the Malagasy Renovation (M.D.R.M. ), all had the same objective: to liberate Madagascar from its colonial oppressors.

However, the failure of many of these movements contributed to the events that initiated Martyrs’ Day. Hundreds of men armed with lances and machetes attacked the Moramanga military camp and the coastal communities of Manakara and Vohipeno on the evening of March 29, 1947. The insurgents fought against Europeans and those deemed pro-French. The rebellion spread throughout the island over the subsequent months. Additional French troops arrived in May, putting an end to the rebellion and allowing the French to regain control of Madagascar.

There were a great number of casualties, though the exact number fluctuates. The majority of dissidents were punished, and the French blamed M.D.R.M. leaders despite the lack of evidence to support their theory. This rebellion was entirely suppressed the following year.

While the French suppressed the Malagasy uprising, they were compelled to enact reforms and new laws to govern the Malagasy people. The rebellion served a second, arguably more vital purpose. It paved the path for the nation to achieve independence without resorting to violence.

The Malagasy people gained independence from the French in 1960, and seven years later, President Philibert Tsiranana established Martyrs’ Day. Originally observed as a day of mourning for the lives lost on March 29, this day has evolved to commemorate the sacrifice and honour the nation’s present-day freedom. The majority of people observe this as a family holiday, spending time with their loved ones and unwinding during the extended weekend.

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Learn more about the revolt

There have been numerous speeches, articles, and even books written about the uprising. Explore any you choose.

Watch a film

There are multiple films based on the uprising for your viewing enjoyment, many by Malagasy directors (and even one by a French director). You can search for titles online and then settle in to view movies of your choosing.

Watch a special television programme.

There are numerous series and programmes devoted to documenting this island’s unique flora and fauna. Search online for your favorites, and don’t neglect to spread the Madagascar love to your friends.


Marco Polo accidentally christened it ‘Madagascar’

The official Malagasy name for the island is Madagascarikara.

  • Gerald Durrell was fond of this island

The naturalist’s final expedition was to this island, and he wrote about it in “The Aye-Aye and I.”

  • It contains some odd animals.

Madagascar is home to numerous animals, including the aye-aye lemur, whose long middle finger helps it locate grubs in trees, and the Malagasy giant rat.

  • Regarding lemurs

Madagascar is home to more than 70 lemur species and subspecies, the majority of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

  • It also has endemic flora

There are more than 10,000 species of native flora, and approximately 90 percent of them are found nowhere else on Earth.


It is an appropriate tribute to the departed.

We honour the memory of all those who sacrificed their lives for liberty. On this day, we honour their memory.

We like history as well

The story behind the scenes and the past that continues to influence contemporary events all tell a story. We are anxious to hear and gain knowledge.

It demonstrates our fortitude

The Malagasy people’s never-give-up attitude and tenacity in the face of all obstacles exemplify genuine courage. We have much to learn from their example.


Year Date Day
2023 March 29 Wednesday
2024 March 29 Friday
2025 March 29 Saturday
2026 March 29 Sunday
2027 March 29 Monday


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