Evenor de Chazal 1838 to 1898; Malagasy Period
(English version is translated by Christopher de Chazal)
Determined to change his life and to distance himself from the sugar industry, Evenor of Chazal sold his properties of Mon Rocher, Maison Blanche and La Sablonnière on December 2nd 1895 to Messrs Antelme, Kerven and others. The proceeds of the sale enabled him to discharge his debts and purchase from Mr. de Chalain, a Mauritian, Villa Martha, a property located in the Highlands of Madagascar, leaving sufficient capital to invest in new projects. In Mauritius, the sugar industry was going through a difficult period.
The Mauritian Society for the Colonisation of Madagascar, had set up a Committee to study the possibility of mass emigration to this island, designated the New Eldorado; but for them to see such an important person emigrating was a surprise.
Evenor knew the country as he had been there several times and had long thought of emigrating there. On February 6th 1896, with most of his family and a handful of loyal employees, he sailed to Madagascar. Landing in Mananjary he began, with his family, an arduous journey of thirty days in sedan chairs carried by porters through the dense forest to reach Villa Martha near Fianarantsoa.
At fifty seven years old this new beginning was a challenge. The colonization of Madagascar by the French had only recently taken place and the country was far from stable, conditions were unfavourable to the foreign administration and malaria was rife.
With the help of his sons, Evenor of Chazal started planting tea and coffee while prospecting for gold in remote areas. Regrettably, a few months after their arrival, Antoine, his eldest son only twenty two years old and his main support, died of malaria.
Evenor persuasively defended the interests of fellow Mauritians who often faced the hostility of the French authorities; in this role he repeatedly met General Galliéni, Governor General of Madagascar. Through the press, associations and other ways he urged his fellow citizens not to undertake the journey without fully understanding the implications.
His premature death at the age of sixty on 27th August 1898 put an end to his Malagasy adventure. Despite their disagreements General Galliéni accorded him a glowing tribute in the official Malagasy Journal.
Jean Pierre de Chazal
Translator’s notes :
Your correspondent is Jean Pierre (Jean Pierre>Evenor Jnr>Olivier> Evenor Snr), who was born in Madagascar and is the great grandson of Evenor Snr (1838/1898),
Evenor’s grave in Fianarantsoa has been carefully tended by Jean Pierre, the link is: https://chazfest.com/portfolio-items/fianarantsoa-madagascar/?portfolioCats=50
The account of the journey from Mananjary to Fianarantsoa is well worth reading; the link is: