After Madagascar had been annexed by France and French had become the official language in all the schools, the Lutheran Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS) saw the need for French teachers in its teachers’ colleges. These teachers, it was thought, could also serve as intermediaries between the mission and the French authorities.
In 1896, L. Dahle, a former missionary to Madagascar and secretary of the NMS in Stavanger, undertook to visit the Lutheran churches in France in order to establish some sort of cooperation with them. One of his visits to the Lutheran Institute in Glay (Doubs department) raised a few volunteers.
Abel Parrot, who was born in Vernoy (Doubs) on February 4, 1879, became the best known volunteer from that group. Having graduated from the Institute in Glay in 1897, he left for Madagascar the same year. From 1899 to 1912, he taught in the teachers’ colleges in Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, and Antsirabe. In 1909 he did some study while “in absentia,” and passed the examination of the Graduate Teachers’ College in Reunion Island. He returned to Madagascar to direct the teachers’ college in Antsirabe for several long stretches between 1912 and 1946.
He became an ordained minister in Montbéliard (Doubs) in 1919 and directed the church work of the missionary districts of Masinandraina (1919-1921), while also working as a teacher in Antsirabe, in Antanifotsy, and in Loharano (1921-1923 and 1937-1941).
He was a very devoted man, and he was much loved by the Malagasy people. Very interested in the geology and botany of Madagascar, he took a particular interest in medicinal plants, and he had experienced some success with certain healing plants. Unfortunately, he did not publish any of his work, at least not on that topic.
In 1946 he returned to Europe with his Norwegian wife, having served for forty-nine years. He lived in Oslo until his death, which occurred on December 11, 1961.
O. Chr. Dahl, L. Molet
Petite histoire élémentaire de Madagascar [Abridged elementary history of Madagascar], Paris, 1900.
Agriculture malagasy na torohevitra ho an’ny olon’ambanivohitra. [Advice for country people], Antananarivo, 1912. 2nd ed., revised and augmented, 1930.
Because of his great modesty, the above works remained anonymous.
The above article, reprinted here by permission, is from Hommes et Destins: Dictionnaire biographique d’Outre-Mer [People and Destinies: an Overseas Biographical Dictionary], vol. 3, published in 1977 by the Académie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer (15, rue la Pérouse, 75116 Paris, France). All rights reserved.