Maldives 12

[Demonstration Majeedhee Magu Male’ – image by author]

Maldives President Quits After Police Mutiny, Protests

“President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, widely credited with bringing democracy to the Indian Ocean archipelago, has resigned after weeks of opposition protests erupted into a police mutiny and what an aide said amounted to a coup.  Nasheed, the Sunni Muslim nation’s first democratically elected president, handed power to Vice-President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, and said that continuing in office would result in his having to use force against the people.  Protests last year over the faltering economy and scrambling ahead of this year’s presidential election have seen parties adopting hard-line Islamist rhetoric and accusing Nasheed of being anti-Islamic.  Britain’s Foreign Office said a team of diplomats was on its way to the Maldives and that London viewed developments ‘with concern’ and called on all groups ‘to find a peaceful way through these difficulties, in accordance with the Constitution.’”

[Reuters, 2012]

25 August

Although still quite sick, I go to the Talent Festival and find my ticket is for the front row. The second item is special needs and one massive boy at the back keeps rushing up the front and doing his own thing. At the very end he rushes up for one last hurrah just as a small woman runs on and literally drags him away; the irony is he was the best thing in it. Then a gaggle of women speed onto the stage and haul the rest off.  Traditional girls are taking part in items and still wear their big headscarves and long sleeves and pants while the other girls are in short sleeves and trousers. At least the traditional ones get to take part. They all have quite a lot of make-up on and could probably get work as photographic models.

I feel sorry for a group of tall, mature looking boys about eighteen who look fabulous in sparkly black costumes attempting a sort of Riverdance tribute, which comes across as ‘Morris’ meets ‘Maypole’.  Shamun, the manager of the festival comes over to talk to me. I think it is a spectacular show, but Shamun says he would like to see more variety. He is trying to get a drama course set up and I had previously offered my services, i.e., teaching improvisation and basic acting skills.  But no-one ever applies which seems really odd to me. In every other country, young people are desperate to get into theatre, etc.

26 August

Still sick but it is English Day at school and am expected to attend. Highly dull as far from being a chance to have fun, the girls have to write essays and so on – just as they do every other day. Am asked to judge poetry recitation.  Go to second day of Festival. The first item is forty pre-school children doing percussion along to a record. There are three sections, and they are being conducted by one of their classmates. It really is amazing as he has to bring them in, and stop them, and it is a very long track. The song ends and on a note they all ‘down tools’ in perfect time for a rest. But then, more music and they all ‘up tools’ and launch into a second number.  I cannot imagine a large group of pre-schoolers having the discipline to learn and perform these items where I’m from.

There is a boy right at the back with a triangle getting ever more restless waiting for his big moment. He misses the cue and when he realizes, proceeds to bash the daylights out of his instrument at four times the required speed – it is quite audible. Another boy is staring at his maracas with a look that says: ‘where am I, what are these, who are all those people, what’s my name…..’ I am astonished by the costumes: they are all in brand new majorette outfits complete with headgear. In fact, every child both last night and today is decked out spectacularly.  In some items, as the groups are so large, just a few at a time take centre-stage before merging into the background. However, one group of boys relegated to a boat façade to ‘fish’ use their rods and ‘Nemos’ to dive-bomb the ones out front. The finale is a riveting gymnastics display of another forty children with one girl calling the counts and commands.  The discipline is a marvel as they continually perform and regroup, again clad in brand-new outfits.

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