On this day in 1947, Malagasy nationalists began an uprising against French colonial rule in Madagascar. The island became a French overseas territory the previous year, which prompted the establishment of the pro-independence political party
Mouvement Democratique de la Renovation Malagache (MDRM). In March 1947, Malagasy (the primary ethnic group of Madagascar) nationalist tribesmen revolted in the eastern part of the island. The revolt rapidly spread across Madagascar, seizing one third of the island. However, once French soldiers received reinforcements, they were able to quicky quell the rebellion. The suppression was swift and bloody, with Malagasy people subject to torture, rape, and mass execution. By the time the rebellion ended, in December 1948, tens of thousands of Malagasy people (estimates range between 10,000 to 90,000), had lost their lives. While the poliitcal leaders of the MDRM denied responsibility for the revolt, the party was outlawed by the French. Twenty military officials were executed for their role in the uprising, followed by thousands of further convictions. While the uprising was officially suppressed, Malagasy nationalists continued to wage a guerilla war against the French. In 1958, France allowed the people of Madagascar to vote on their future, and they decided to become autonomous within the French community. The country became a republic in October 1958, and fully independent in 1960.