Emergence of Maldives, Kingdom of islands Lost

Kingdom of islands

It was Dhivehi Raajje (Kingdom of Islands or Dhivehi Kingdom) half a century ago. Nature’s paradise of the Indian ocean. A chain of atolls  from Minicoy to Addu across the equator. A historical nation with a distinct way of life that  took  thousands of years to evolve. A well-preserved island life that is unique as the environment. You and We imported Maldives a treasure box without any treasure.

Too Quick a transition


With tourism came the modernity, luxury, smart phones, we preferred  global citizenship over island life. We based our life on ones and zeros that can disappear by a mere click. We left coconut palms and  the tuna for cancerous sausages. Unlike other civilizations everything happened so fast in a few decades. Hence we did not get the chance to at put the traditions of Dhivehi Raajje  in written form, to put our traditions in black and white. Nor we have them in practice. The generation with those memories are  almost gone.

The Lost Island Life

I wish to go back to the eighties where we lived a totally  different life. A life full of adventure, a life with nature. We ran in the rain in strong  winds around the neighborhood collecting mangoes and other fruits that fall off from  the trees. “Vagah edun” meaning stealing  kurubas (coconuts for drinking) from coconut palms   in areas looked after by Island offices  or appointed people.  We never get caught. We played ‘catch me if you can’ over trees jumping from one tree to another  like monkeys, or around a dhoni  (boat) in the high tide, sometimes going on board, or diving beneath. If the owner of the boat comes we will  just cross the lagoon  to another island, he can  never catch us.

A Community

We lived with our families, relatives and neighbors and played  various games on the streets.  All the houses have chicken freely left on their own, when Eid comes its time to catch chicken. You need many people to catch a chicken, we chase then through the neighboring houses over the walls underneath anything they could go. Some times they even fly. You may end up in a Gifili (outdoor bathroom) when someone taking a bath, while chasing a chicken. Finally they get tired we catch them.

Lost Traditions

tradItions maldivse

One important tradition that we have  completely lost is the art of story telling. I still remember our mother telling bed time stories for all of us. It was amazing how she made up stories. Starting with ‘once upon a time…..’ , sometimes it’s 7 princes  and 3 princess because we have 7 brothers and 3 sisters. The story will have a happy ending with one becoming a hero and a lesson for us. So don’t do this, don’t  do that. Time to sleep; “mammaa one more story”, some  one will cry out. Some may already be asleep.

Story Tellers

And there were very good story tellers like Moosa Fulhu, I remember, a tall blind man who went on telling stories from house to house. Sometimes people paid him, many times he did for free. Many of the stories have origin in heroic a royal family or a millionaire in Baghdad, Syria or Egypt, Yeman etc. There were at least another two story tellers including  a lady those. Some of the stories  are folk tales or tales   that has some historical event. Still we may be able to find some who can tell us folklores. That was the kind of life in Dhivehi Raajje.

Should we Preserve Dhivehi Raajje (Kingdom of islands)?

While Maldives has luxurious water villas in lagoon and guest houses in every inhabitant island we are losing the human side of life. I wonder if we be able  to take some bold actions like making rural islands as protected areas for life style for those who like to sustain traditional life. Where is UNESCO? Perhaps we should start by changing the name to Dhivehi Raajje.


Pictures aaaVeee Nature’s Paradise

Shama Ibrahim