Tandroy - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. An independent republic since 1960, Madagascar has a president and an elected assembly. Tandroy society, in contrast with those of other Malagasy groups, has been described as markedly egalitarian. Permanent social hierarchy has been absent since the decline of the Andriamañare and Maroseraña-Nonetheless, traditional sociopolitical organization in the Androy is based on the clan, and the size, territory, wealth, and ritual importance of the clans vary considerably. Moreover, hierarchical values order many of the relationships within and between clans. Social differentiation based on ancestry, residence, and wealth is therefore important but unstable, owing to several environmental and sociopolitical factors. The development of markets and new local power structures, together with a reported decline in cattle raising, are said to have brought changes in ceremonial and group structure.

Political Organization. Madagascar is divided into six provinces ( faritany ). The provinces are divided into prefectures, and the prefectures into fivondronam-pokontany (subprefectures). The Androy is in the prefecture of Faradofay in the province of Toliary, with five fivondronam-pokontany (Ambovombe, Amboasary, Bekily, Tsihombe, and Beloha). Each fivondronam-pokontany is composed of several firaisampokontany (equivalent to cantons), each of which is composed in turn of smaller fokonolona (village communities). Little is known of the relationship of indigenous political organization to the colonial and postcolonial local administrative structures.

Social Control. Social control is maintained largely by respect for "ancestral custom" ( lilin-drazañe ) and for the traditional authority that is vested in the elders, on the one hand, and by highly developed values of honor and shame, on the other. Extensive exchange networks also act as mechanisms of social control, as do gossip and the threat of prison. Local councils of elders deal with village and intervillage affairs; wherever possible, external intervention is avoided.

Conflict. In the past, raiding of neighboring groups was common. The endless wars over cattle, land, women, tribute, and succession, in which military alliances were forever changing, have been linked to the political fragmentation of Tandroy groups. Some authors have suggested that segmentary organization developed as an adaptive response to attack. The colonial administration put an end to war, although disputes remain.

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