A history lesson about the Maldives comes with many variations and twists in tales. A blur of centuries where facts have become lores. Yet one of the most important piece of the country’s history – the Suvadive breakaway – is perfectly preserved, as if frozen in time, through what was named “The Times of Addu”.
Make no mistake, this is no history lesson about the break away government, but simply a highlight of the importance of documenting time for future generations to come. An appreciation of the important work done by the writers, contributors and journalists at the original The Times of Addu, and how it has been revived 60 years later, hopefully to tell more tales of time, starting with the year 2020.
How The ‘Times’ began in Addu
As per Research Analyst at the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage Mr. Naajih Didi, ‘The Times of Addu’, launched on 1st January 1960, exactly one year after the formation of the United Suvadive Republic, became a means of delivering important information to the people of the new country, including national addresses by President Suvadive, Mr. Afif Didi on multiple occasions.
The creation and production of the news paper was lead by President Afif Didi himself, under the watchful eye of the government’s Information Office, also run by the President. Through out the short lived duration of the paper, which came to a stop with the downfall of Suvadive in 1963, it has proven to have served as a time capsule which we, and future generations can reflect back on.
Turning pages into The Times of 60’s
While only few are currently in possession of any remaining original copies of “The Times of Addu”, the 68th edition of the “Dhivehi Digest” has published some several pages of multiple editions of the news paper.
I have taken the liberty to translate some excerpts from the pages of a special edition of the news which was published on 1st January, 1961, on the occasion of the second anniversary of Suvadive. On the third page of the edition, Mr. Afif Didi wrote addressed his nation,
“O the respected people of Suvadive! Today marks two happy years since the Almighty Allah granted you victory for the sacrifices you have made in the name of independence.
Hence, it is my sincere request to remain with the decisions of the government with truthfulness and loyalty, for the sake of you and future generations to come.
Yes! On today’s occasion, the utmost responsibility of you respected citizens, and the government as a whole, is to thank Almighty Allah. And to send prayers of peace to be upon the Prophet Mohamed.
May Allah grant as the good fortune of remaining true to Islam and our independence. Amen!
Servant of the country,
President of United Suvadive”
This edition also published the parliamentary elections of the year, as well as a national address by the Incharge of the Information’s Office (Mr. Afif Didi), among other messages of religious scholars, and celebratory poems to mark the anniversary.
Other editions of the news also depicted characteristics of news papers of the western world including reports, a section for world news which was written in English, crossword puzzles for entertainment, as well as comics and advertisements. It also incorporated English lessons within the news paper, highlighting the value of education at the time.
The news also shed light on the composition of the then government, which consisted of an Informations Office, the People’s Council of Addu Atoll which served as the Parliament of the Republic.
Nonetheless, a priceless pieces of history worth remembering.
Back to the current times – Telling time 60 years on
Although the original version of ‘The Times of Addu’ was owned by a rebellion state, the current, online based version of ‘The Times of Addu’ is fully privately owned, run by a group of youth, simply to provide reliable and objective news to the world, from the Maldives. The name was chosen as a semblance of the significance of journalism and documentation of events, from the first news paper in the atoll which we operate from, Addu City.
The team behind ‘The Times of Addu’ today aims to tell time through events that take place in the country, not just in Addu City, as well as deliver news from around the globe to our international and local readers. Sixty years on, it is not the times of Addu that is being told, but the times of the world.