This is the tale of the forest-dwelling man. One of the three main historical castes in the Merina Kingdom of Madagascar, together with the Andriana (nobles) and Andevo, was the Hova, or free commoners (slaves). All members of a Malagasy clan—possibly of the Zafiraminia people—who came into the central highlands from the island’s southeast coast around the 15th century and assimilated the Vazimba people were collectively referred to as hova in the beginning.
Social strata began to form in the Merina kingdom during and after the introduction of slaves into the various kingdoms of Madagascar. The Hova caste, which emerged below the noble system, is made up of free commoners. Under the name Andriana, a subgroup of Hova was connected to the king by blood.