Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Need for Research on National Day

While the Maldives celebrates its National Day in relation to the legendary exploits of Mohammed Thakurufaanu against Andhiri Andhirin, we know next to nothing about the history of the period. Most of what is taken today as history really comes from an oral tradition handed down from generation to generation and last narrated by Burara Mohammed Fulhu in the mid 20th Century. Even a cursory glance will confirm that most of the story is simply fantasy –splitting islands and breaking masts with magic spells.

Historically the first scholar who attempted to glean some facts from the myth was Hussein Salahuddin (1881 – 1947). His attempt, though commendable, was incomplete because he did not reconcile the story with existing historical records. This leaves several fertile areas for research.

The history of celebrating the National Day is relatively short. Amir Mohamed Amin, the ruler of Maldives, instituted the National Day against a background of a wave of nationalism that was sweeping across South Asia in the post World War II period, which culminated in the independence of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Maldives also negotiated a new agreement in 1948 with Britain, the colonial power. The agreement, which gave internal autonomy to Maldives, was trumpeted at the time as independence. As part of the celebrations, the title of Dhorhimeyna was conferred on Amin. During the build-up to this 'independence' national symbols were created, including the national anthem, national emblem and …the National Day.

After 1965, when the Maldives gained independence, National Day celebrations were abandoned in favor of the Independence Day. National Day was later resurrected by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1979 as part of his personal vendetta against President Ibrahim Nasir, which included reversing everything done by the latter.

Up to 1948, when Amin created the appropriate mythology and meta-narrative for the National Day, the Portuguese were not specifically identified in any historical record as the enemy whom Mohammed Thakurufaanu fought. Hassan Thajuddin's Thareekh simply labels the enemy as 'infidels.' Since Thajuddin had specifically referred to the Portuguese (Furhethikaalun) in connection with another event, it is surprising that he did not use the word Portuguese to refer to Thakurufaanu's enemies. Interestingly, no record exists in Portuguese archives regarding the supposed Portuguese rule of the Maldives. This is even more surprising because the archives chronicle Portuguese colonial exploits in meticulous detail, including accounts of the voyages of individual ships along with their ports of call and manifests.

There are many other mysteries and questions that need answers:

  • Why did Mohammed Thakurufaanu and his successors, Ibrahim Kalaafaanu and Hussein Faamuladheyri Kilegefaanu, continue to use their non-royal titles (Thakurufaanu, Kalaafaanu, Faamuladheyri, which are considered below the dignity of a king) after assuming power? No coronated King of Maldives had ever done that.
  • In 1827, Ali Raja, Mariambe Ali-Adi Raja Bibi, of Cannanore wrote a letter to the Sultan Mohamed Mueenuddine I of the Maldives, claiming sovereignty over the Maldives based on an agreement between Thakurufaanu and the Ali Raja of Cannanore in the event Thakurufan was established in power in Male. (Refer page 294 of Divehi Tarikh). A reply was sent from Malè explaining that Thakurufan had no legal authority to enter into such a treaty with Ali Raja. Interestingly, Burara Mohammed's story also refers to such an agreement and goes on to say that after winning the war Thakurufaanu gave the Malabaris an inhospitable island Kattalafushi, in return for their help in the war. What really happened?


Anonymous said...

It really shows, how little we know abt our history. What is taught in our text books from the young ages, are not well researched. Most of it is fantasy, and iam sure there are kids and teachers who believe in those fables. even today!! what a shame!
Hope in future, we would have more resources to look in to our history and conduct researches by schollars who is interested in our history and govt aid on this. It is vital for a ppl to know the true history of their own.

Alif Laam Gaaf said...

The very sad fact of the Maldivian history is that it has always been and is a game for the politician to play with. Every time a new ruler begins to rule the country, history seems to be very wrong and they get very keen to "correct" it. This so called correction in the end happens to be an editing in a way that they wish.
I as a Maldivian on this national day feel that we need to rewrite the history of Maldives with a pen that is not biased.

Anonymous said...

Maldives gained full independence from Britain on 26 july 1965.Not 1968.After celebrating july 26th as independence day for several years, President Nasir declared March 29th as our independence day.This was the date British forces left Gan due to financial difficulties. The British were on Gan after 26 july 1965 as part of a lease agreement (for 30 years)betwenn the UK Govt and Maldives Govt.
President Gayoom when he became President merely restored 26 July as our independence day,the day the independence agreement was signed.26th july was truly our independence day. Many foreign governments also recognized our independence as of that day. We even got a UN seat based on that agreement signed on 26th July1965.So, years later what Nasir did ws not acceptable. Gayoom merely restored what should be. It was not a personal vendetta against Nasir.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly the issue I touched upon on my blog post.

Our very limited history is in desperate need for professional inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Dhiveheenge Tharika 7, 8, 9.
Dhiveheennaai Poachugeezun 1, 2, 3.
Dhivehibahaai Thaareekhah Khidhumaiykuraa Qaumee Marukazu (1999, 1999, 2000)

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

@ Anon 1:56 AM,
1. Thanks for pointing out the typo.

2. We are not talking here about changing the Independence Day, which happend after British left. We are talking here about abandoning National Day celebrations, which happened much earlier. These are two separate events.

Anonymous said...

Hi, be fair and unbias... Gayoom did notreplace July 26th by Rabeeul Awwal, instead he restored celebrating Rabeeul Awwal First which Ameen Didi once started. Gayoom only replaced March 29th by July 26th as our indipendence day. Even a small kid would know, our independence day is not March 29th, it's but it's July 26th.. Be reasonable too..

Anonymous said...

I watched the doctors press conference. And I must let you know that I am totally against the doctors strike. Its against what healthcare officials stand for. Where are your ethics? The world is in an economic downturn. Our small and limited economy is in a stand still! Why on earth should the Doctors get more money and not the ordinary man? Doctors are already getting thousands at their private practice. Their take-home-pay still remains the same! You guys should be ashamed of yourselves!

Anonymous said...

The topic here is not doctor's pay but National Day.FYI Dr Abdullah Waheed is not one of the striking doctors. He does not even work at IGMH>

Anonymous said...

When expensively trained medical doctors turn their back to patients and start writing about history and politics, you know the country is beyond redemption.

Anonymous said...

Doctors can't strike. they can't ask for more money for their services.They can't be politicians.They can't write about history.They can't have blogs.
Did anyone point out to all the to be doctors these rules.