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Culture - Arts

Reconstruction of Madagascar royal palace progressing

afrol News, 19 June - Madagascar has recorded an impressive progress on rehabilitation of Rova Manjakamiadana, a royal palace complex and former home of the monarchs of Madagascar, according to the government.

Rova Manjakamiadana, a UNESCO heritage site gutted by fire on 6 November 1995, had almost all monuments destroyed, with stone shell and a protestant temple as only remains to the structure. The destruction led the Malagasy state to launch a massive project for restoration of the historic palace in November 2006.

Malagasy President Marc Ravalomanana on his visit to Palais de Manjakamiadana today, said though progress was remarkable, work should be further accelerated.

He stressed the importance of the restoration of the building, which is a symbol of history and of the country. "Rova Manjakamiadana is not only for my benefit, but to all of us," he said, urging the Malagasy population to enhance efforts in ensuring the palace would be restored well before end of 2009.

The temple, which was the least affected part of the site after the 1995 fire, had to be the first element restored. Work concentrated on shoring up stone walls of the main palace that threatened to collapse.

Nearly 200 people are mobilised in the company refurbishing Rova, and have promised to preserve the authenticity and originality of this major Malagasy national heritage, in accordance with international charter of Venice on conservation of global heritage.

Rova's destruction in a fire was concluded to have been an accident, according to an official investigation in the country.

As of November 2007, 30% of financing necessary for the reconstruction of Rova had been collected. In early January 2006, phase 1 of Rova's reconstruction was commenced, aimed at refurbishing the stone facade of Manjakamiadana and restore the palace's interior, or "lapa hazo".

While the original interior of Manjakamiadana was built of wood, due to durability concerns and a lack of hard woods, concrete is being used to reconstruct the structure. According to project supervisors, phase 1 of reconstruction should have been finished by May 2008.

The palace complex was the centre of power for the centralised Kingdom of Inmerina, which dominated Madagascar before colonisation. Inmerina in the 19th century became one of Africa's most powerful and modern states, even trying to embark on industrialisation and introducing universal education years before most European countries. The kingdom's history is a source of pride to most Malagasys.

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