Hazing, university sporting and cultural events banned

Madagascar’s Higher Education and Scientific Research Ministry has banned bizutage – student initiation rituals (‘hazing’) – and unauthorised university sporting events, following violence and the destruction of property, including a fire, at the University of Mahajanga.

The ban was introduced after a football match at the University of Mahajanga between players from Analalava and Bealanana, in Sofia region. The event degenerated into violence, and ended with an ‘act of arson’ after a bout of fist-fighting and stone-throwing, reported L’Express.

The fire was in an accommodation block with six dormitories used by 64 students. “They threw a lambaoany (wrap-around garment) soaked in petrol into the bedrooms. All the residents’ personal belongings, such as computers, portable phones, papers and notebooks, mattresses and other things, were reduced to cinders,” L’Express reported a student as saying.

About 10 students were injured in the fighting, and three of them were kept in intensive care, reported L’Express. Professor Blanchard Randrianambinina, the university’s president, said the fire was a criminal act.

“An inquiry has been opened. The person who committed this criminal act will be punished, wherever he came from. Punishments will be applied without exception or discrimination. We will also immediately hold a disciplinary council at the university,” L’Express reported him saying.

It was not the first time such an incident had occurred at Mahajanga. In 2016, 12 dormitories were set on fire following a fight between students from the Sofia and Boeny regions, leaving 144 students with nowhere to sleep. The following year, three students were caught trying to set a building on fire, reported L’Express.

After the fire, the higher education ministry issued an order officially prohibiting bizutage, cultural and sporting events organised by students in state-run higher education institutions, unless each was specifically authorised, reported Midi-Madagasikara. The ministry called for a police inquiry into the fire and for the university to take measures conforming to the appropriate rules.

The paper recalled that, in 2011, a student fight had resulted in a death at a university campus in Barikadimy. – Compiled by Jane Marshall.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.