JANUARY: THE TOWN of Antalaha on the north-eastern coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean has named a new public square after Móric Beňovský, the 18th century Slovak explorer who for a short time was a ruler of part of the island.
The square was ceremonially opened on January 16 and a monument to Beňovský created by Slovak sculptor Stanislav Machovčák from the Kysuce region was dedicated. The monument also features an inscribed bronze relief made by sculptor Vojtech Pohanka, the SITA newswire wrote. The square was designed by Bernd Zschocke, a German who has been living in Madagascar.
The town’s mayor, representatives of the Sambava district and state officials dedicated the square and 20 people from Slovakia attended, including a film crew led by Vladimír Dudlák from Združenie Mórica Beňovského (the Móric Beňovský Association) and writer Miroslav Musil. The national flags of Madagascar and Slovakia were raised and the crowd sang the anthems of both countries. After the dedication speeches, a Madagascar folk ensemble sang a song dedicated to Beňovský and the Slovak visitors sang a Slovak song, Na Kráľovej holi.
Móric Beňovský was born in Vrbové and was the first European to sail in this part of the world – seven years before James Cook did so. During his brief life – he died at the age of 39 – he travelled in four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa and North America) and was the first Slovak to write a worldwide bestseller, titled Pamäti a cesty (Memoirs and Travels). In 1776, he was pronounced the King of Kings in Madagascar and was the ruler of the north-eastern part of the island. He spent four years of his life in Madagascar and died there in 1786 while fighting on behalf of France near Antalaha.