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Iyye, Yesterday - Chapter 4
An introduction to Mohamed Ameen - for those who love truth in history
Abdul Hakeem Hussein Manik
10 August 1997

translated by Fareesha Abdulla with assistance from Majid Abdul-Wahhab and Michael O'Shea
Notes from U.K. Public Records Office added by Maldives Culture
Photographs and graphics below have been added by Maldives Culture from various sources.
2005



mohamed ameen didi, minister dictator and first president of maldives
Mohamed Ameen Didi

 
Cruelty
Mohamed Ameen took power in Maldives in 1942. His rule came to an end in August 1953. His government controlled the country with the force of the fist. In English, it would be described as a dictator's rule. Extreme cruelty occurred.

Even now, things can be seen that were marked by immoral and sexual acts (Translators' note: Hakeem's precise meaning is unclear. He may be referring to the houses that Ameen built for his wives and mistresses.) The assertion that Mohamed Ameen was a cruel ruler is being made because it can be proven. One example is the case of Ibrahim Habeeb who had a long chain attached to his leg while he was kept under arrest in Hulhuge building.

Another incident was when Prince Mohamed Fareed (the future king) said to a group of people at Maabageechaage that it was a heathen practice to travel in an aeroplane. These people discussed his words in a bazaar shop and Ameen was told about it. Two men were summoned to the courthouse and questioned. They were found to have had the discussion, and the chief judge ordered them whipped. Then a court session was held in the Naadhee building attended by a jury of important people from the wards. Mohamed Ameen was also present. Prince Mohamed Fareed was summoned with due dignity and when he entered everyone stood up out of respect. When he sat down, the chief judge also sat down and began the questioning. Mohamed Fareed admitted what he had said, and Judge Abdullah Fahumi Didi sentenced him to six months house arrest with a government income of six hundred rupees per month.

For a long time, Mohamed Fareed had been free to speak as he liked and he would never have been treated this way during the rule of a much younger person from his own family (his younger brother Hassan Fareed, who died in 1944).

Even worse than these two matters was the banishing of Hussein Rahaa to Thoddu island after he was summoned to Male'. Hussein Rahaa was a pious theological scholar. He had nothing to do with the revolt that took place in Addu at that time (February 1944).

A writer could fill an enormous book with accounts of the cruel acts of Mohamed Ameen, but I will only give two or three other examples before finishing.

In one incident, Mohamed Ameen pardoned the people involved in the northern revolt and then summoned them back and had them whipped until their flesh was broken. They were banished to various islands. The three leaders of the revolt were given the savage punishment of burihan gathun (also known as burihan negun, removal of buttock skin by public flogging).

Another time, a group of young people were arrested and accused of threatening the life of Mohamed Ameen. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and some were kept in stocks. One was chained. They were in this appalling state when two of the men in the stock died. Their names were Rushdie and Dhiffushi Yusuf.

Later, Jaadhoo Ahmed Manik was released in an amnesty at the time of Ameen's Republic. While they were in custody, the prisoners were fed only a very small piece of finger millet flat bread. It was thin, with a diameter of less than six inches. The prisoners rarely saw a shred of grated coconut... This is a particularly long story.

Educational Services
Mohamed Ameen did not begin the move to educate children. Hussein Salahudeen started education for boys, and Ahmed Kamil Didi pioneered education for girls. The teaching of the girls went very well for a year and history can record that Mohamed Ameen was the school's deputy-principal at that time. When the girls' classes began, the principal of the boy's branch of the Madrasathul Saniyya was Moosa Mohamed Didi. Moosa and his family left Maldives to travel via Colombo to Lucknow for medical treatment. This was why Mohamed Ameen became the deputy principal.

A small booklet published during those days lists the pass marks of the boys and girls. In the boys' list there is the name of Abdul Hakeem Hussein Manik (the writer of Iyye) with a mark of 80% for Urdu language. Ali Ahmed and Mohamed Jamal gained 100%.

Kulhlhavahge Hawwa Didi was first among the girls. She was the daughter of Mohamed Didi, the son of Dhon Maniku. Bandhu Dhaleyka Fulhu was also a student in those days. Aminath Hussein, Zubaida Mohamed Didi and Sayyida Shareefa were recognised as intelligent girls.

However, after only a year, Hassan Fareed established his control of Maldives and he stopped the new classes because his father Abdul Majeed Rannabandeyri Kilegefan and uncle Ahmed Doshimeyna Kilegefan (Mohamed Ameen's father) strongly disapproved of education for girls.

The girls went back to school when Mohamed Ameen took power. This has already been written about at length, so I will only describe it briefly here.

Flight Lieutenant Walker and food in WW2 Maldives
Inquiry into Food Conditions in the Maldive Islands and Investigation into Difficulties of the Maldivian Fishing Industry – 4 January 1944
by Flight Lieutenant Walker

Starvation was worse in the northern islands due to a decreased fish catch. This decreased income from fish while import prices were increasing.

'It would appear that the government have made a great effort looking to their difficulties of finance and communication, to alleviate suffering, but that a combination of many unfavourable circumstances has been too much for them.'

His scheme for importing more food by guaranteeing fish exports is acclaimed, but impeded by cabinet. 'They were wary that the Civil Defence Commissioner was a Sinhalese and the elderly cabinet members did not want to enter into any agreement with a Sinhalese.' This was the 'chief difficulty’ with the scheme. The younger ones were less prejudiced. They were happy with an amendment which meant their fish guarantees were to the British commander-in-chief, and not a Sinhalese.

The total population of Maldives in 1942 was 94,057 people.

'The illness of Mr Ameen Didi from malaria left the Maldivian ship of state completely rudderless.'

The only fish suitable for curry are bonito, rather larger tunny, and ragodi.




Abdul Majeed
The British governor on 20 March 1944 wrote, 'Abdul Majid seems not to have given any final answer to the offer to him of the throne, but he appears to keep in correspondence with the Maldivian government as a sort of distant advisor. The Council of Regency continues to function satisfactorily.'

On 22 June 1944, the British governor wrote that 'no representations on the food situation were received from the Maldivian Government Representative.'

Regarding the suggestion of regular inspection visits to Male' from Ceylon, the governor wrote on 26 July 1944 that 'the government of the Maldives is extremely sensitive in regard to such measures and would not ... welcome the suggestion.'

Public Records Office, London
CO/54/987/9


Maldivians were under the protection of the colonial power of the British who accepted their responsibility to provide food for Maldivians during World War 2. They sent a person from the RAF in Colombo. He was called Lieutenant Walker and he conducted some research, touring the north and south of the country. Everywhere, he saw 'savages' who were incapable of doing anything. It was rumoured that Walker held a meeting with the nobles of Male'. The official translator at the time was Ibrahim Hilmy Didi.

Mohamed Ameen was the ruler in Maldives (Hassan Fareed had moved to Ceylon), and his advisors were Ibrahim Faamladeyri Kilegefan and Ali Kuda Rannabandeyri Kilegefan. In addition, Abdullah Jalaludeen and Mohamed Naseer Manik were among those with whom discussions were held.

The information Walker heard at the meetings made him furious. He said that because the British did not come to rule in Maldives in 1887, everything had gone wrong, and that a commercial co-operative could only be run by importing English officers and Sinhalese staff.

From the very first day Walker appeared in Male', Ali Kuda Rannabandeyri Kilegefan said that the British were just looking for an opportunity to take away the internal independence of Maldives. He said the best safeguard against such a move would be to start providing education to the people immediately.

Mohamed Ameen then restarted the education system for boys and girls in Maldives, but it was all very half-hearted. At the time, RAF soldiers were present on all the islands of Addu atoll, which had been prepared for war.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Commander of the East, visited Addu and the commanders and Lord Louis saw a group ignorant young men behaving in a very improper way. Soon after, Mohamed Ameen went to Sri Lanka and visited Mountbatten who was staying in an old guesthouse built by the British in Nuwara Eliya. Mountbatten advised Ameen to introduce English medium education in Maldives.

Shortly afterwards, British soldiers arrived in Kelaa island in Thiladhunmathi (Haa Alifu) atoll. Again, the British saw very ignorant people behaving badly. When Mohamed Ameen visited Kelaa island he was asked by Marshal Reid why Maldivians were not being educated. Ameen was unable to give an acceptable answer. Thus the education system suggested by Kuda Rannabandeyri Kilegefan began.

Those who are attempting to falsify history, attribute education's beginnings to Mohamed Ameen, and they make a special point of naming him as the pioneer of women's education. To them, I reply with the words of the poet:
Without caution,
and ignoring the Day of Judgment,
these are serious lies
.

Mohamed Ameen built temporary classrooms on the grounds of Madrasathul Saniyya. The boys attended during the day, and the girls at night. Instruction was in the Dhivehi language and Mohamed Ameen taught English.

Edhuruge Dhon Tutu Didi had the lower classes and Hassan Moosa Didi taught Urdu to both girls and boys. However, not a single student learnt a foreign language to a satisfactory level from this school though Moosa Mohamed Didi did teach acceptable English to the young women.

Aminath Hussein learnt Urdu at classes run by Moosa Mohamed Didi at Noomaraage house. She was also taught by Hassan Moosa Didi. I believe Aminath Hussein learnt English as a student of Mohamed Ameen.

Regardless, Mohamed Ameen had not had a good education overseas. He neither researched nor learnt anything about civilian matters.

Library and Nadhee Thamaddhunu
Whatever a group of people say, the truth cannot be hidden. Ameen Didi writes in his book Maldives under a Cloud of War, 'When I returned home after spending most of the night entertaining myself in cinemas and nightclubs, Ibrahim Hilmy Didi would be lost in books, studying.'

Only someone who is ignorant of the ways of the world would open a library attached to a civil servants' club. He would not have discovered a library attached to any of the nightclubs he visited. A library is a place where there is an acute need for silence. The Civil Servants' Club was a place where people spoke loudly, played music and danced. There was tea and other things to eat and drink. Mohamed Ameen incorporated these two places together!

Even a grade 8 student would know that a Civil Servants' Club and a library would not work in the same building. Day by day, openly and in secret, young Maldivians began to lose their respect for Mohamed Ameen.

Ameen Didi had the opportunity to establish a school for girls, but…
The magnificent Sosunge house on Sosun Magu was built by Mohamed Ameen for Annabeela Aminath Hussein who was also known as nala rankolhu, 'a beautiful piece of gold'.

The Aminiya School we see on Chandhanee Magu was built for girls by Ibrahim Nasir. If Mohamed Ameen had really had a passion for women's education, there would have been no need for Nasir to do this. Mohamed Ameen should have used that large piece of land, and all that expenditure and careful design, to build a school. It would have been fine even if he had named it after his invented cousin, Don Louis. His uncle Abdul Majeed's name would have been very appropriate. If this had occurred, we would have a 'Don Louis Girls' School', or 'Majeedi Girl's School', or 'Aminath Hussein Girls' School' on Sosun Magu and it would signify a great service from Mohamed Ameen.

Then it would be appropriate for us to gather there and sing the poetic lines composed by Hoarafushi Adam Saleem:
'From the radiance of Aminiya's garden
Body and soul rejoice in celebration
Seeing Ameen the pulse of the nation.
Our own pulse near stilled by the joy of it.'

If Mohamed Ameen had established a proper school for girls, Ibrahim Nasir, who ruled Maldives years later, would not have had the opportunity to establish education for females. Nasir gave Aminath Hussein the option of buying Sosunge, but the 'smart' Aminath let that opportunity pass because she thought the property was too big.

Since these are the true facts of the matter, it is unacceptable to claim that Mohamed Ameen had any role in the education of Maldivian women.

The Marvelous Maldive Islands
Allan Villiers 1957

Sun- drenched atolls in the Indian Ocean hold a sea-girt Sultanate where phones rarely ring and kites fly from office windows. Though the Maldives are a democracy under British protection, no Britishers live there; in fact, no Europeans of any kind are resident anywhere in the islands - not so much as a consular official or a merchant.

No steamship, no airplane would take me there. The chief means of communication was an old sailing ship from the part of Colombo in Ceylon... I had sailed in such ships before when I was with the Arabs. She had a lateen rig and a hull like a galleon of old.

The only accommodation the 'baggala' offered was a 'great cabin’, which took up the afterpart of the big teak hull and contained eight shelf-like bunks, a writing table, an old hurricane lamp and miscellaneous goods the Maldivian crew was bringing home. Prominent among these were umbrellas.

The carved stern of this venerable craft remind me of the models of Portuguese caravels I had seen in Lisbon. Her melodious name was The Glory of Mercy.

Cooking was done on a firebox on deck, and water was carried in iron tanks. The ship has unloaded dried tuna from the Maldives and will return loaded with rice and flour and drums of kerosene. She also carried the mails, for she was a Maldivian Government ship.

A few years ago there was a fleet of twenty of these vessels sailing between the Maldives and Ceylon, with an occasional visit to Calcutta. There was also a famous old brig. Now there is no brig and only eight baggalas. Such ships are no longer being built and soon they will disappear.

Only the Sultan has a small automobile, and there were two light trucks for handling cargoes.

The wards in Male' combined to build a large modern secondary school, where the boys were taught by day and the older girls by night. It is considered undignified for girls and young women to be seen on the streets; hence the night schooling.

A fleet of Indian and Maldivian baggalas trades between Colombo and the islands. Carved and windowed stern copies the style of 16 century Portuguese galleons. Lateen rig resembles Arab dhows... the ship’s cook prepares curry, coffee and bread for the 21-man crew.

In Dunidhoo island near Male', there was a 'spacious bungalow, a hard tennis court (put there I was told, by the staff of a Royal Air Force radio station during WW2 ), and the remains of an American amphibian aircraft...'

When the (Hulhule') fishermen return with a good catch, they dance along the thwarts in a hazardous manner and bang on skin drums and sing.

Outrigger canoes closely resemble those of the South Pacific. Cotton sails billow between the twin masts.

There was a motorship in the harbour. With contrary winds, the baggalas took up to 4-5 weeks to sail to Colombo. This ship did it in two days. Returning to Male’ within 6 days. A little German named Hugo Arlt commanded the ship. He had been a submarine commander in the war.

Alan Villiers
'The Marvelous Maldive Islands'
in National Geographic
Vol: CXI, No: 6
June 1957, pp.829-849


After the downfall of Mohamed Ameen, the new ruler of Maldives was Ibrahim Faamladeyri Kilegefan who was fond of all Maldivians, including Ameen Didi. He was the person who renamed the girls' section of Saniyya as Aminiya. Thus, it is a blatant lie to give credit to Mohamed Ameen for the education of Maldivian women. It is a falsification of fact.

The main reason for telling this lie about Ameen is to deceive young people and smear the reputation of that honourable servant of the nation, Ibrahim Nasir. The people telling these lies think 'a paper ship will permanently stay afloat', but their mistake is becoming more and more obvious. Nasir's reputation continues to improve while Ameen Didi loses status.

According to the two or three people still alive who were politically active in Nasir's time, they constantly receive phone call enquiries from young people asking about Nasir. Face-to-face meetings also result in more questions about how Nasir operated.

We receive many calls in this house and young people visit me to talk about those times. All the school children are discovering that this public talk about Mohamed Ameen is untrue. To satisfy personal agendas, Nasir has been smeared with blatant lies.

Mohamed Ameen had inappropriate relationships with women and he also lacked integrity. During the rule of Hassan Fareed, Mohamed Ameen was put under house arrest over a liason with a young woman. He was restricted from going anywhere except to prayers and work. Two or three other people were also put under house arrest for involvement in this affair. The place where this incident occurred still exists. It was upstairs in Maafannuge house, which Abdul Majeed had given to Hassan Fareed. The house remained vacant because Hassan Fareed lived on the third floor of a building in the Maabageechaage compound. The house was made available to Mohamed Ameen by Tutu Didi of Faamladeyrige house. Hassan Fareed had left Maafannuge house in his care. Due to their involvement, Tutu and another older woman were also kept under house arrest for two or three days. This older woman was the mother of the young lady Mohamed Ameen took to the house. Even for someone as powerful as Hassan Fareed, it would not have been easy to punish Mohamed Ameen, no matter how guilty he was.

Ameen's pursuit of Aisa Manike
The writer's father passed away on 10 July 1936. He left two young children. One was Abdul Latheef and the other was Aisa Manike. Aisa reached puberty after Mohamed Ameen became the ruler. She was a voluptuous and beautiful young woman.

Aisa was accompanied to her school, the girls' section of Madrasathul Saniyya, by a very trustworthy person Vandhoo Waheed. The principal was Aminath Hussein and she repeatedly asked Aisa to get permission to go to Dhoonidhoo island to take part in the activities for girls. Aisa said that her oldest brother would not allow it. Neither would her mother, nor her second older brother.

This being the situation, one day late in the afternoon on the ninth of a certain month, Fanthoshi Dhon Moosa Fulhu came to our house and said that at half past seven that evening Mohamed Ameen would like to meet me at Athireege house. I arrived on time and waited in the portico for a while. I heard his footsteps approaching and then Mohamed Ameen stood in front of me.

He said he wanted to see me because my younger sister Aisa Manike was not taking part in any of the school activities for girls. The principal had mentioned it to him, so he was discussing the matter with me.

'The principal would like Aisa to take part in the races at Dhoonidhoo island,' he said. 'Nothing inappropriate will be happening there. I will be at one end with Aminath Hussein at the other. It's a race; three girls competing at a time. The girl who runs fastest and touches my knee will be the winner of each race. The winners will race against each other and the best runner receives a prize. A good afternoon tea will be served in the house on the island. My older brother Abdul Gayyoom, Lahutu and Hassan Manik are sending their children. You and us, we are the same people. My uncle Abdul Majeed Rannabandeyri Kilegefan was very close to your father and my grandfather and his friends used to go to the house of your grandfather Kalhu Ali Manik Dhon Manik and prepare rice flakes which everyone ate together. How can you not trust me when we have been so close?'

I said I trusted him, but the young men these days were really bad and if I left my sister in that situation she may fall into the hands of one of them.

Mohamed Ameen said he would take responsibility for her welfare. I said that was well and good but I had heard that he was leaving in an American ship, currently anchored in the harbour, to purchase foodstuffs in Colombo. Ameen admitted that was true. I said if he stayed in Male' to look after Aisa, and my mother agreed, then I would let her go. My father was dead but my mother still alive so I could not make a decision that went against her wishes, particularly when it involved my sister.

Mohamed Ameen said my words were very true and he explained that he had to leave Male' frequently to purchase food for the country. With charming language, Ameen Didi continued reminding me of the past links between our families. Look at this shameless man, I thought. Asking a girl's protector to give her away for him to take her to Dhoonidhoo and play his games. His entire mind is sold to Satan! He has no conscience.

Anyway, Ameen said his goodbyes and left on his bicycle, riding east into a very dark area. As I walked west from Athireege, a friend came quickly up to me and said I had pulled my head out of that one very cleverly. He was Noonu-Thaa Mohamed Didi, and without saying anything further, he rode off on his bicycle. I went on to the Buruneege shop, praising Allah that my sister was safe.

Sending sugar to Thiladhunmathi atoll
I shall write this story about sending sugar to Thiladhunmathi atoll by transcribing a document from an eyewitness, Hathifushi Ali Manik. He was Ramiza's elder brother, from the same father and mother. At the time, Ali Manik was an employee of the atoll office at Thiladhunmathi. His statement says:

In the name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate.

During the rule of Mohamed Ameen Doshimeyna Kilegefan, the first president of the Dhivehi Republic, I was acting as an employee of the atoll office at Thiladhunmathi. While I was visiting Nolhivaranfaru island, a shipment of 98 pounds of sugar arrived accompanied by a letter from the ministry of trade. The letter said: 'Due to rationing in Male', this 98 pounds is the sugar allocation for the atoll (Thiladhunmathi). The sugar is sent, with this letter, in the care of Kulhudhuffushi Kokko Ahmed.'

In that same cargo boat, there were two bags of sugar weighing a total of 224 pounds, for my mother. It had been sent in the care of Vadi Dhon Manik by Mohamed Ameen of Athireege.

Signature: Hathifushi Ali Manik
28 June 1987


In the letter, Ali Manik is saying that two hundredweight bags of sugar were sent by Mohamed Ameen to Ali's mother Dhanvaru Aimina. She was also the mother of Ali's younger sister Ramiza. In those days, everyone knew that Hathifushi Ramiza and Baarashu Ramla were two beautiful and very special girlfriends of Mohamed Ameen.

Thiladhunmathi atoll had not yet been divided into Haa Alif and Haa Dhaalu atolls. It was known as 'Greater Thiladhunmathi'.

Anyway, Mohamed Ameen does not deserve any of the honours people have been trying to give him. In a poem of praise by Hoarafushi Saleem called Coming from a Prosperous Spring, a verse says:
Mohamed Takurufan Auzam is rightly on the same list of names,
when writing of the beloved of the nation,
the letters appear in gold.


There is no way that anyone can write Mohamed Ameen's name on the same list as the name of the country's noble and honest Ghazi Mohamed Takurufan. That verse flies in the face of reality.

Everything written in this essay is from the accounts of eyewitnesses. Except for the letter by Hathifushi Ali Manik, all the events described took place in front of me. A great scholar, Maumoon Gayyoom (translators' note: the current dictator of Maldives) once wrote, 'The history of a particular time can only be accurately written by those who have witnessed the events of the period.' This statement is from Gayyoom's introduction on page nine of the book by Ibrahim Shihab called From the history of Maldives' rulers: the reign of al-Sultan Mohamed Fareed the First, under the heading: 'Scenes from the political life of Maldives... on the other side of the curtain'.

I am writing about these events in line with the wisdom of those words.

An introduction to Nala Ran Kolhu (A Beautiful Piece of Gold)
It was among the Customs officers that Aminath Hussein became known as Nala Ran Kolhu. This group included Dhon Manik, the son of Hassan Manik of Thulhaidhooge house, Thakandhooge Mohamed Kaleyfaan, Kuda Ahmed Kaleyfaan, Buruneege Kuda Hutu, Kuda Ahmed Manik, Kuda Ibrahim Manik and other people like that; all close friends of Mohamed Ameen. They shared a common sense of humour.

The Customs chief at the time (and later the minister for trade), Ibrahim Didi of Kuda Dhaharaage, jokingly commented that he could not help making public what was going on between Mohamed Ameen and Aminath Hussein. It has also been said that sometimes when Mohamed Ameen was busily working with them, his co-workers would use that nickname for Aminath Hussein and Ameen would burst out laughing. They had used that name thinking Ameen would not realise who or what they were talking about. But it didn't make Ameen angry at all.

In those days, if they invited foreign delegates to a party, Mohamed Ameen would personally involve himself in the cooking and catering arrangements. He didn't just give orders; he did physical work like a normal person. There was a great sense of humour during those times.

'With service to the nation
a person's name may gain high regard
and be permanently enhanced
with a new lush green freshness.'






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