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Thiladummathy Rebellion

Composed on 4 April 1987

In the darkest days of World War Two

On a tiny isle of peace,

Appeared the sails of rebellion

Against the blue sky of noon.

A crow cried in repeated notes

On top of a mango tree,

And passers by gave no heed

To the warning sign indeed.

They swelled in size with sails on high,

Five hundred and twenty, it was said,

And taking the invaders’ route of old

Passed between the Bandos Isles.

As rumour passed of the rebelling North,

For the second time in history,

Malé was gripped with a fear unknown

In the living memory of that little Isle.

When night fell on that Friday’s eve,

A murmur rose from the sea.

With cries of threats the voices boomed

From the anchored ships by the shore.

As the rebels walked from boat to boat

With sharpened knives in hands,

Guards were placed on dry land

With nothing in their hands.

The battle of wits lasted till dawn,

And if not for the grace of God,

We’d have been slain by morn,

Ere the story was known.

The phantom bosses of the uprising,

Mingling with the men on the Isle,

Posing as harmless as could be,

Were found and caught by dawn.

As the revolt was crushed by Amin, at his best,

A Sunderland flew by chance,

Bringing to an end the Bodu-kateeb’s boast

Of ruling by the fist in our land.

This is a story of long ago,

Sung by one who had seen

The men and their many misdeed

Done on our Islands of the Maldives.

Author’s Annotation: Thiladummathi Atoll is the northern most group of islands in the Maldives. This particular uprising took place in 1943 in the closing months of the reign of King Siri Kula Sudha Ira Siyaaka Saasthura Audha Keerithi Katthiri Bovana (Hassan Nooreddine II). The Acting Minister of the Interior was Athireegey Mohamed Amin Didi (he was raised to the title of Dorhimeyna Kilegefan several years later). The first warnings of the approaching armada of sailing dhonis, battelis, and odis were heralded by crows perched on top of tall trees that became agitated by the unusual sight on the horizon. The armada was headed by the Bodu-kateeb of Kuluduffurhi Island and sailed through the channel between the islands of Bandos and Kuda Bandos, the traditional approach of unfriendly visitors. This was indeed the second time in recorded history that the North rebelled against the regime in Malé. The first time was in the sixteenth century against Andiri Andirin, the regent for the Christian King Siri Dhirikusa Loka (Manoel). That particular rebellion was successful and was led by another kateeb, that of the Island of Uteem. Evidently, the twentieth century Thiladummathy rebels drew the parallel, by placing the ceremonial dhoni of Uteem Kateeb Mohamed Thakurufan at the head of the armada. The Thiladummathy rebellion was stage managed by a "fifth column" of masterminds and accomplices in Malé. Evidently the rebels, just about the entire adult male population of Thiladummathi atoll were armed with knives, machetes, sharpened wooden stakes and so on. The authorities headed by the Acting Minister of the Interior had the options of opening fire on the entire population of able-bodied men of the most populous atoll, or to try and persuade the men into returning home peacefully. When the rebels’ accomplices in Malé were arrested, the situation was stalled. The Acting Minister of the Interior, who was a persuasive speaker, made an emotional appeal to the rebels, saying that if they did not return home, foreign powers might be inclined to intervene. Amin Didi had no idea of what was to follow. While he was addressing the rebels on the waterfront, an unexpected aircraft of the British Royal Air Force appeared. That effectively spelt an end to the rebellion.