Sunday, December 28, 2008

Celebrating Defeats

We Maldivians appear to be collectively suffering from a rare streak of masochism. We have a strong tendency to celebrate our defeats and disasters.

Take the example of the tsunami, which we celebrate as ‘National Solidarity Day’. Notwithstanding the spontaneous outpouring of sympathy and support for the victims in the immediate aftermath, what happened later was anything but solidarity, especially the feuds that developed between refugees and host communities. Even at the national level, the government has failed to settle the victims even after four years, despite the availability of funds.

So why then, one wonders, do we celebrate December 26th each year as ‘Solidarity Day’ of all things? If it is to encourage positive qualities like sharing each other’s problems, then we could have chosen something less hypocritical. Building on a foundation of lies may not be the best way to develop positive qualities.

Take also the 3rd of November, which we celebrate as Victory Day. What victory? The leaders simply went into hiding leaving the people at the hands of mercenaries, till the Indian Army came and rescued us. Sure, Hussein Adam and a few others sacrificed their lives for the nation, and we remain grateful to them. [I also received and ‘Addana’ for what I did on that day.] But does it qualify that day to be a Victory Day?

Now we come to the Martyrs Day, which remembers the untimely death of King Ali the 6th. Apart from folklore we really don’t know what exactly happened to him. In trying to glorify the king, the story labels all the citizens of Male as cowards. So what are we celebrating on Martyr’s Day?

To complete the list of disasters to celebrate let us think of some more. We can celebrate the sinking of Enama Boat as National Maritime Day. Civil Aviation Day can be celebrated on the day Air Maldives declared bankruptcy. Child Rights Day could be celebrated on the day Naseem Soa case surfaced. Health Day could be changed to coincide with either the Cholera epidemic or Dengue epidemic. Any more ideas?


naimbé said...

Very thought provoking post, Dr. waheed.

BTW: "I also received an ‘Addana’ for what I did on that day". Just out of curiosity, what exactly did you do?

Shiham said...

this is so true, Well put Dr Waheed.

If you notice carefully, this practice is very normal and accepted in our community. morbidly, we celebrate the death of relatives as a big feast BUT not birth days.
I lived my life (16 years) in a local island and i remember big feasts celebrating and marking the dates of relatives death. I mean its natural to mark the day in memory and do a little prayer on the grave yard, but all that food and company they have in the house and the noise, i did not get that even when i was a kid. And i always wonder (Now) no body ever wished me on my date of birth (not even my parents). i started my b'day celebrations since i came to Male. Still i pretty sure my parents does not remember my b'day. May be we like being miserable and tend to celebrate it. we always have, so i think thats what i can make out of it.
But i guess its time things change.

Anonymous said...

You are so naive. I love it. Lets make Nov 11th 2008, as Victory day. We all fought like cowards and heroes.

Yusuf said...

I don't think we Maldivians are alone in celebrating such events. In Australia they celebrate a called ANZAC Day which was the day Ottamons defeated Australian and New Zealand soldiers on a beach somewhere in turkey during the first world war. If one thinks deeply it's not actually the defeat that they are embracing, but they are actually embracing the lessons they learnt from that ambush and defeat. So I don't think there is anything wrong in marking those days of grieve and embracing the positive values associated with those incidents.

Regarding the remarks you made about the November 3rd incident, I don't see the head of states and other government officials fighting on the frontline of wars anywhere on the world. Even if it happens it would be a rare case. As per my understanding George Bush spent hours in airfoce 1, flying from one point to another following the September 11th genocide. It's government officials who coordinated the military aid of indian militia while being in hiding. So they did their duty.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article... well said.

Here's my two cents. From a sociological perspective, the "celebrations" are a facade to cover up abuses. Don't you see? It's always the direct opposite. It's an imposition by the previous regime and I beg to differ that is not our culture.

November 3rd: Victory? ROFL! Ilyas Ibrahim had the keys to armory? In which other country does the brother-in-law-minister holds the armory keys? Shouldn't it be the military?

Tsunami: The previous regime created the Disaster Management Centre - they were the disaster, not the community who display unforeseen solidarity.

Anonymous said...

G W Bush,the coward did not go to the front line against the war on Terror or to Iraq or Afghanistan. VP Cheney went into hiding immediately after the attack on the twin towers.Bush went literary underground . The bunker under the White House. Churchil did not dare to go front line as PM in WW2. Mrs Thatcher,the coward wasn't on board any of the ships which went to Falkland Islands.
We do not celebrate death. The feast which follows a death and every year afterwards is celebrating his/her going to Paradise.(A big assumption ofcourse)

Anonymous said...

Ours is a country that celebrates idiots and barely literate people like Umar Zahir and Ilyas Ibrahim as national heroes. So what else wouldn't we celebrate?