Monday, April 20, 2009

Heritage vital to the survival of Maldives as a nation

The recent history of Kalhuvakaru Mosque is a virtual barometer that reflects the cavalier treatment meted out to Maldivian heritage by successive regimes. It is also a damning clue to why the younger generation has lost its sense of identity and pride in the nation.

Built of ebony wood (the black color of which gives the mosque its name) on a carved coral stone base, Kalhuvakaru Mosque dates back to 1789, to the regime of King Hassan Noordeen I in the Maldives and the French Revolution in Europe. Till 1978 it was located near the National Football Stadium.

In 1978 Kalhuvakaru Mosque was dismantled to make way for a larger two-storey mosque. The old woodwork and masonry was auctioned off and bought by Furanafushi resort, where it was reconstructed. After Maumoon Abdul Gayoom became president later that year he took action to get back the mosque. The Australian owner of Furanafushi donated the mosque to the government (It was not bought back as claimed by the government).

Maumoon’s action appears to have been motivated more by politics than any love for heritage. This is indicated by the fact that the mosque was not restored back to its original historical site. Rather, it was placed in an insignificant corner of Sultan’s Park and left to decay. Perhaps it would have been better maintained if it was left in Furanafushi.

Kalhuvakaru Mosque was not the only historical structure demolished during the regimes of Ibrahim Nasir and Maumoon. The list includes, Aa Koattay Buruzu and other forts in Male, most buildings in the royal palace compound, Sifainge and numerous historic mosques in various parts of Maldives.

Last year, under an externally funded project, restoration work was started on Kalhuvakaru Mosque. The mosque was reopened by President Mohamed Nasheed on Monday. Speaking at the ceremony he said that history and heritage were the most important distinctions of a country. This is a significant departure from the past policy on nationalism and heritage, giving a ray of hope for national revival.


Anonymous said...

there has been a systematic attempt to obliterate maldivian heritage, and supplant it with foregin culture. I am not just talking about western culture but also afghan, pakistani and saudi culture.

Anonymous said...

when mosques were being built Maumoon made sure that old mosques were demolished. he did this by imposing a an embargo on building new mosques. only 'repair' of old mosques was allowed. the 'repair' invariably involved demolishing historical buildings.

Anonymous said...

Maumoon saved many truly historic mosques and other important archeological sites. The restoration/preservation of such places including Fenfushi mosque and Dharumavantha mosque with help from India was an ongoing program under President Maumoon Gayoom. The preservation of Kalhuvakaru Mosque Project began last year under Gayoom and completed only now.(lol)

Anonymous said...

maumoon saved maldives from infidels. he will do so again after winning majlis elections.

mondae said...

Has anyone wondered about the fact that maumoon's character and actions appears too good to be true. I mean he has not done anything wrong, he is too good a scolar on islamic stuff, and very truthful.
Statistically, the probability of him being this good is just too small for anyone to logically believe he was that good.
But then again, who in Maldives ever use logic, everyone seems to be more interested in talking more and thinking less.
More importantly, what is the statistic for locals who are able to understand the statistical analysis.

Anonymous said...

Maumoon is a very learned Islamic scholar and prayed 5 times. So he could not have done any wrong. Christians hate him that's why there are so many criticisms of him.

Anonymous said...

Please Wake up Dr Waheed
while you cast doubts on Maumoon’s intention to bring back the mosque 30 years ago
as motivated by politics than any love for heritage you have no doubt president Nasheeds speech two days ago was credible enough to your ears as 'significant (policy) departure' simply because the he said "history and heritage were the most important distinctions of a country" even though he hasnt done any thing yet. How foolish can you get! My advice. Wait another 30 years to judge him.