Bety is named after Princess Bety, the daughter
of a Malagasy King, Ratsimilaho who ruled the
Island of Nosy Boraha (later known as Isle Ste.
Marie, a pirate stronghold off the Northeast coast
of Madagascar). Bety fell in love with a French
Corporal, Jean-Onesinne Filet. They married with
King Ratsimilaho's blessing. The King who was
himself half pirate by birth and his daughter,
Bety,were largely responsible for uniting the
Pirates and their wives and their "mulatto"
offspring (known as "Zana-Malata").
After her father died, Princess Bety ruled Nosy
Boraha. Unfortunately, she ceded the island to her
husband and thus to France -- a fateful move that
gave the French a toehold on land within sight the
Island of Madagascar. That harm was not undone for
more than two centuries.
In 1973 it was my (RJR) good fortune to spend
time on Isle Ste Marie. I pitched my tent in a
picturesque, coconut palm and orchid-festooned
tropical cove known as "Bety's Place" and explored
the island both in search of its wildlife and for
remnants of its notorious pirate past. One
Zana-Malata woman I interviewed and photographed
looked and boldly acted remarkably like a hardened
Okay, now that you see how this process works,
click below to see the rest of this fascinating and