Government to replicate legendary boat

The government is planning to replicate a boat used to liberate the Maldives from Portuguese rule in the sixteenth century, as part of the ongoing celebrations to mark fifty years of independence from the British.

Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his brothers from the northern island of Utheemu reportedly sailed the legendary Kalhuohffummi by night, infiltrated islands, killed sleeping Portuguese soldiers and sailed away by day break.

British author Roysten Ellis said the Kalhuohffummi was crucial in the eight-year long guerrilla war against the Portuguese, with the three brothers using the boat’s superior speed and maneuverability to outsmart Portuguese warships.

The home ministry today signed an agreement with the Maritime and Underwater Heritage Society to replicate the Kalhuoffummi for a professional fee of MVR 1.6 million (US$105,000).

Deputy Home Minister Ahmed Saleem unveiled the boat’s design today and said it was finalized after two months of research.

The heritage society’s Mohamed Haleem said the design is based on books by Hussein Salahudeen and Burahad Mohamed Fulhu.

“Our research shows the vessel is 51 foot and 4 inches. We are trying to construct the boat using traditional techniques used at the time to remain true to the original vessel,” he said.

The boat will be built on Baa Atoll Maalhos, transported to Malé and put on display at the Sultan Park.

“We will be able to finish the boat by August. We are currently trying to find the best timber for the boat. It has to be very specific coconut timber,” said deputy minister Saleem.

The Maldives’ independence day falls on July 26, and is celebrated to mark independence from British rule.

The Maldives celebrates Mohamed Thakurufaanu’s struggle every year on National Day, which falls on the first of Rabee-ul-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar. Thakurufaanu ruled for 16 years.

Other events planned by the home ministry to mark the golden jubilee of independence from the British include skydiving, a swimming competition, a sea sports festival, a world record attempt, float parades, an international football tournament, a police tournament, several music shows and the unveiling of the new currency design.

The government has also started decorating the streets of Malé with national flags and sacrificed 150 goats in a public ceremony in April.

The Independence Day celebrations have drawn criticism over the lack of transparency of expenses made out of the state budget. However, the ‘Independence 50′ office under the home ministry has said that most of the work is done by volunteers.


Islamic affairs minister calls for the preservation of independence on National Day

Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem has urged all citizens to refrain from actions which might threaten the independence of the country.

While addressing the nation on the occasion of National Day, Shaheem said that a nation will develop only if there is unity and peace within the country.

National Day is observed on the first of Rabee ul Awwal – the third month of the Hijri (Islamic) calendar – celebrating the victory of Mohamed Thakurufaanu over the Portuguese occupation in the year 1573.

“There is peace and calm within the Maldivian people. We have maintained Islamic unity and are strengthening ties with the Islamic Ummah (community),” said Shaheem this morning.

Shaheem’s Adhaalath Party is also reported to have called upon Muslims not to become involved in Christmas celebrations.

“The only festivals that Muslims should partake in are Eid-al-fitr and Eid-al-adha,” Haveeru reported the party as saying. “Partaking in another religion’s festival or celebration is akin to adhering to another religion”.

The paper has also reported that customs have seized a number of items imported as Christmas decorations for a resort in Noonu Atoll. Religious materials deemed offensive to Islam and idols for worship are prohibited in the country.

A special National Day flag-raising ceremony was held this morning at Republican Square, with Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer attending as the chief guest alongside high ranking officials from the Maldives National Defense Force.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom tweeted his greetings on the occasion to all Maldivians.

Also tweeting was former President Mohamed Nasheed who called upon the Maldives to take the example of Mohamed Thakurufaanu, who “fought against the colonial power of the Indian Ocean at the time for the freedom of Maldives”.

Folklore holds that Thakurufaanu – from Haa Alif Utheemu in the North of the country – set sail to the capital Malé alongside his two brothers and companions in order to bring an end to the 15 year Portuguese rule in the Maldives.

Using the cover of the night and their famed vessel – known as ‘Kalhuohfummi’ – the  brothers are said to have landed on different islands every night, fighting the Portuguese and outmaneuvering the their vessels by using their knowledge of the Maldivian oceans.

The brothers landed in the capital in 1573 where they fought against the Portuguese soldiers garrisoned in the capital. Mohamed Thakurufaanu is sais to have shot dead the infamous ‘Andhiri Andhirin’ using a musket, thus ending the 15 year oppressive Portuguese rule.

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