Monday, March 17, 2008


The British Royal Navy established the so called PORT T in Addu Atoll and made its headquarter in the island of Gan in the year 1941, during the 2nd world war. They used almost all the parts of Addu Atoll during this period. Again, during the cold war years, from 1957-1976, this atoll was used by the British.

The original idea of a naval base in Addu Atoll came up to provide a safety fall-back for the British Eastern Fleet. In their military thinking, if the Japanese took over Singapore, Malaysia and Java, then there was no other alternative option other than Trincomalee, Sri Lanka for the British. But the naval commander-in-chief Admiral James Somerville, upon inspection, found that port inadequate. So they searched for an isolated island base with safe, deep anchorage, in a suitably strategic position. Finally, it was Addu Atoll that met their requirements. With approval from the Maldives government, its facilities were used extensively by the British fleet.

In August 1941 HMS. Guardian was in Addu Atoll to clear and construct an airstrip on Gan Island. Large oil tanks were build on Gan and Hithadhoo. The six major islands were garrisoned by the marines, namely Gan, Maradhoo, Hithadhoo, Vilingili, Kandu Hura, and Meedhoo. The Royal Marine Coast Defense Regiment, manmed shore batteries and anti-aircraft guns. To facilitate the defense, causeways were built on the islands on the side of the western reef. But there were disadvantages, namely the equipment was visible from a long distance at sea, given low elevation of the atoll.

During this time, the populations of the island of Gan and Feydhoo were transferred to Maamendhoo, in Hithadhoo, and to Meedhoo. Residences were temporarily build by cadjan and other low profile woods. Imagine how the people would have felt and how difficult their life would be. Shifting was easy but to settle down to another environment was very difficult.

The Japanese remained unaware of the base till much later in the war. But submarine reconnaissance established the existence of the base. All the entrances into the inner channel of the atoll were permanently closed by anti-submarine nets. The German U-boat U183 torpedoed the British Loyalty in March 1944. It was a very impressive long range shot from outside the atoll. A grip in the anti torpedo net was focused to attack the vessel. There was noteworthy oil pollution after this incident and the British personnel cleaned the lagoon. Even today, the affect of this pollution is seen in the lagoon. After war the British Loyalty was scuttled close to Maradhoo Island and is a now a dive point.

During this period, the quality of life of Adduans went below poverty. Those who went to work for the central government were paid insufficient wages in the form of rice and sugar. The people were treated like slaves by the officials sent from the central government. Hunger was its ultimate result. People were not fishing as they did before. What they had they were not able to export due to the war.

Luckily, the people of Addu had large housing plots during those days. They grew coconuts, bananas, papayas, and a very large amount of cassava in their gardens, along with other plants as fertilizing. Hithadhoo had 149 toddy [A sweet sap from palm tree] trappers. From their work Dhivehi Hakuru [sugar made from toddy] was available in every house hold. By the grace of Almighty Allah, the people did not starve. But clothing was another matter. I heard that some people wore materials used for tenting by the British. However, there was abundant food available with British personals and every month a lot of it was burnt in Feydhoo. This consists of flour, sugar, and even rice. The inner harbour was full of ships and the crew were selling a bag of rice for a fleshy chicken. A single bunch of banana meant a lot of food to take home. But the government severely punished people caught on going these trips to buy food from ships. There was no fair trial. Wherever government officials discovered such acts of trade their fists were ready to beat the offenders like slaves; perhaps it was even worse than slavery. Shouldn’t the community have had the right to utter their feelings? Shouldn’t the community stand up for their rights or for a change? Surely it’s a human nature to do so.

The central government had dispatched a person called Bodu Dhon Kaleygefaanu to deal with the Addu people. He was actually Buchaa Hassan Kaleygefaanu of Male. His actions against Adduans were inhuman, and his merciless punishments unbearable. Some of his victims are still alive today and will describe what they went through.

When cruelty went beyond limits, the people of Hithadhoo stood up in unity to kill the heartless official. The leader was Mr. Abdullah Afeef Didi, along with some of his supporters. But when the then head of government went to investigate, he sent almost all of Afeef Didi’s family to Male’. They were kept in the jail and a trial was carried against them. Mr. Abdullah Afeef was given the most unforgiving punishment which the central government gives, after which he and members of his family were banished to different islands.

Afeef Didi may or may not have had the idea of parting the southern atolls from central government at that time. But for sure he stood up for protection his community. However, whatever happened took place due to the uncivilized punishments given by officials. These officials may not have foreseen the ultimate result of their actions. The worst point is, these officers were being protected by the ongoing regime.

Can the Addu people be called secessionists? It is more worth to explore whatever happened, and to learn from the findings.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Why shouldn’t Adduans be very proud of our heritage, history, culture, and our alumni? Why shouldn’t we remember of our efforts to bring a landslide democracy to Maldives? Why shouldn’t we think of the hard work of our forefathers to gain their due respect and humanitarian rights from the central government? Do people even today think of us as separatists? Surely we’re not, for we fought for our rights and for our economical freedom. We fought for our children’s higher education. We never wanted anything more than this, though popular propaganda labeled us as separatists. We were forced to rebel, but the concerned authorities were clearly informed of the consequences. I will go into this issue at a later time.

After the death of well-known Maldivian Islamic scholar Sheikh Muhammadh Jamaaldhdheen (Vaadhoo Dhanna Kaleygefaanu) his teaching were started in Addu Atoll Meedhoo by his students. They were teaching Tawhid, Islamic Sharia, Hadhith, Aqidhah, Fiqh studies and also Islamic eschatology. This teaching was done for sake of Allah, and the service was free. This service was recognized by the Sultans. The judiciary system of the Maldives was mostly headed as Chief Justice by a scholar from Addu Atoll Meedhoo, or by a person who acquired their learning from there, either directly or indirectly.

Traditionally, as Mr. Abdullah Majid of Dhaharaage says, Meedhoo can be classified as a village university of the Maldives. It will not be boastful to say that Addu Atoll was the centre of learning. The nobility of Addu Atoll were given due respect from every level of the Sultanate. As a result of this learning, Addu Atoll was a rather free-thinking society in the Maldives and, culturally, more advanced than the rest of the country. We had a lot of well-known alumni all over Addu Atoll and Fuah Mulaku. Even today this is a proven fact and we should not try to hide such realities.

The last person who filled the post of Chief Justice of Maldives from Addu was Meedhoo Elhage Ali Didi. He served as Chief Justice of Maldives till his death in 1903. After him, no other person from Addu Atoll served in the capacity of a Chief Justice of Maldives. But during the time of Sultan Hassan Nooradheen, Sheikh Hussain Raha (Hussain Sharafudheen) was asked to accept the post of Chief Justice. But he rejected the offer saying he was not fit in health wise to take up the office. But later he told it was better to teach than to take a higher post. He built a school in Hithadhoo and considered a lot of students from Addu and nearby atolls. He was then appointed as the Atoll Chief of the three southern atolls. Although the historical school was their own property, the government forcefully took over the building after paying them off with a paltry amount of money. It was later sold on auction for Rf 2,000. The party who won the auction demolished the school.

The last famous chain scholar from Addu Meedhoo was Al-Allam Al-Sheikh al-Hafiz Ibrahim Thakurufaanu (Aisaabeegedharu Dhon Beiyya). Al-sheikh Hussain Salahuddin from Male’ Dharavandhooge was one of his students. Hussain Salahuddin became the Attorney General at the age of only 18 years. He severed as Chief Justice for a longer period and was the first Maldives Minister of Justice under the written constitution. Salahudhdheen is recognized as one of the most famous and influential writer of his time. He wrote fiction and poetry, collected Maldive idioms, and wrote numerous books on Islam. This is a reflection of his Meedhoo educational background. He then started a school in Male and its name was changed to Majeedhiyya school. Hussain Salahudhdheen took the role of teaching at the new school.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Let me start this work by introducing Addu Atoll and some of its important historical events. When I talk about Addu Atoll I never forget our neighboring Atolls of Fuah Mulaku, and Huvadhu and its friendly people.

Addu Atoll or Seenu Atoll is the southernmost atoll in Maldives. The name of Addu Atoll is taken from a small island called Addu, near Gan Island. This island was destroyed by the Costain Company when they build a staging post for the British Royal Air Force in Gan.

Addu Atoll lies below equator. It is one of the smallest Atolls in the Maldives, but its islands are large, when compared to islands in other Atolls. Inhabited islands are Hithadhoo (Atoll capital), Maradhoo, Maradhu-Feydhoo, Feydhoo, Meedhu and Hulhudhu. In the past Gan and Hankede were also inhabited. The islands Hithadhoo, Hankede, Maradhoo, and Feydhoo were connected by bridge in 1969 when Mr. Moosa Ali Didi was the Atoll Chief. In early 1980s State Trading Organization connected Feydhoo and Gan by a bridge. So now all the islands from Hithadhoo to Gan are connected by bridges. Only recently were these bridges improved by the Maldives Government.

The islands mentioned above lie on the western reef, while Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo lie on the eastern reef of Addu Atoll. At present six islands are inhabited and they are:
Hithadhoo [Atoll Capital]

I would like to add one more thing to this introduction. Maradhoo-Feydhoo is not an island but it is only a part of Maradhoo island. When the Government of Mr. Ibrahim Ali Didi (Faamuladheyri Kilegefaanu) gave Gan to the British to build an R.A.F staging post, the island was inhabited. So the population of Gan was moved to Feydhoo and Feydhoo inhabitants forcefully relocated to the unused land in Maradhoo. So, to give original Feydhoo islanders a separate island, this part was named Maradhoo-Feydhoo.

The Atoll is the most populated area in the Maldives, when compared to the capital Male’. The population of Addu Atoll is about 28,000. But due to many economical difficulties and also due to other things much of the population lives out of Addu Atoll.

The Addu dialect is quite different from the official Dhivehi language. But now it is getting mixed with Dhivehi, mainly because most Adduans live in Male’ or many are employed in resorts around Male’. But we are still proud of our dialect.

In the past, most of the educated people in the Maldives were from the southern atolls, a characteristic that still holds true today. Therefore, many Adduans are well-educated people. But from the very early days the official Dhivehi language was used for written communications. Even when we had the secessionist government of United Suvadive Islands, written communication was in Dhivehi.

I’m proud of my Addu heritage, a heritage borne of unique historical, cultural, and linguistic roots. I’ve taken up this blog to comment on Maldivian politics, culture and history from an Addu viewpoint, and hopefully add to the already varied and colourful world of Maldives blogging.