Madagascar gets it current name from Macro Polo (1254-1324),the venecian explorer, who described an Africanislandof untold wealth called Madeigascar in his memomoirs (1298-!320). Polo heard about the Island , second hand, during his travel in Asia (1271-1295). Most scholars believe that he described Mogadishu, the port located in present day Somalia. Neverthless, Italian cartographers during the Renaissance attached the name Madagascar to the Island.
According to the traditions of some Malagasy peoples, the first bantus and Arabs to settle in Madagascar came as refugees from the civilwars that followed the death of mohammed in 632. Begining in the tenth or eleventh century, Arabic and Zanzibari slave-traders worked their way down the east coast of Africa in their dhows and established settlements on the west coast of Madagascar. The last wave of Arab immigrants came from eastern African colonies. They settled north-west of the island and introduced , for the first time , Islam to Madagascar.
Rise of the Sakalava
The island's chief began to extend their powers through trade with their Indian Ocean neighbours , notably East Africa,the Middle east and Indi. Large chiefdoms began to dominate cosiderable areas of the land.Among these were the Sakalava chiefdomsof the Menabe.According to local tradition, the founders of the sakalavakingdom were Maroserana princes . They quickly subdued the neighbouring princes , starting with the southern ones in the mahafaly area The true founder of the Sakalava dominance was Andiramisara, his son Andriandahifotsy( c 1610-1658)then extended his authority northwards , past the Mangoky river.
The Sakalava rulers of this period are known through the memoirs of Eurpeans such as Robert Drury, James Cook etc.