Maldives marks 70th National Day

Official speeches, flag hoisting and military events marked the 70th National Day in the Maldives on Sunday, which celebrates Mohammed Thakurufaanu ending the country’s 15-year Portuguese occupation.

Festivities took place on the island of Fonadhoo in Laamu Atoll with speeches by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

President Waheed focused on the migrant worker threat to “Maldivianness, culture and nationhood”, while Ahmed stressed the importance of not complaining or questioning what the country has done for Maldivians, local media reported.

These speeches were accompanied by a flag raising ceremony, ceremonial march by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), stage show and Children’s Evening on Fonadhoo, reported local media. A fireworks display on the same island is planned on Monday night (January 14). The MNDF and Fonadhoo community undertook extensive preparations for the festivities.

Additional flag hoisting ceremonies, including in the capital Male’, were led by the MNDF on various islands nationwide in celebration of Thakurufaanu liberating the Maldives from the Portuguese in 1573.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also made a National Day statement emphasising the need for an “impartial and honest” security force, and calling for recognition that the Maldivian people were “the true guardians of the system.”

“The nationalism that defended [our] freedom [in the past] should be beneficial to the people and their progress,” Nasheed said.

Not so ancient history

Mohamed Thakurufaanu is hailed as “one of the most illustrious heroes of the nation” for his victory over the Portuguese and his influence is embedded in the heart of Maldivian culture. He coined the traditional title of the State “Ad-Dawlat Al-Mahaldheebiyya” – which can be found on the Maldivian national emblem – and his namesake literally encircles Male’ as “Boduthakurufaanu Magu.”

Originally from a royal family on Utheemu in Haa Alif Atoll (traditionally known as Thiladhunmathi) Thakurufaanu traveled to Male’ with supporters from his island and defeated the Portuguese colonisers on the first day of Rabee ul Awwal, the third month in the Hijree (Islamic) calendar. This date is now commemorated annually as National Day.