Maldives celebrates its independence from the British rule every year on July 26, however, this year’s festivities were cancelled by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in early July.
Maldives became a British protectorate during December 1887 before which the tropical archipelago was drawn by a relatively few number of colonial and regional powers including the Dutch and Portuguese. The latter ruled the scatter of islands for 15 years before being saved by a heroic Utheemu local and his two brothers.
The agreement was signed by then Sultan of the Maldives with the British government with the promise of military protection from invaders and to not interfere with the country’s domestic affairs.
However, since the signing British interfered with the country’s domestic affairs and during April 1948, Maldives signed another agreement for independence in domestic affairs following which more individual freedom was granted.
At a time the Maldives population was just a little over 97,000, then Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir signed an agreement to gain independence from the British rule on July 26, 1965. Three years later, the Maldives was officially declared a republic from a Sultanate and Ibrahim Nasir served as the country’s first president.
The occasion of independence was declared a national holiday given its importance in the country’s captivating history from tales of suffering to the sweetness of independence.
The day has since been celebrated each year with feverish passion where citizens as well as visitors join the festivities throughout the scatter of islands. Highlights of the auspicious occasion during previous years include parades by the Maldives National Defense Force as well as the National Cadet Corps.
Several government institutions, civil servants, public sector and local schools also partake in the celebrations, staging performances featuring traditional themes, some with a modern twist as recently observed. The day following the day of, is usually declared a holiday as well, as many civil servants and students take part in the festivities commemorating independence.
It is one of those occasions that bring the people together where differences and every other insignificant matter is pushed aside. Citizens nationwide gather in the capital Malé City every year, where the festivities are held grandly with vibrant costumes, festive music as well as fireworks and other performances where event organizers push themselves to excel their previous performances each year.
In celebration of the day, schools nationwide prepare numbers by skilled students, government institutions prepare float parades and the security forces stage drills that are thoroughly enjoyed by the public, who fill the event grounds each year and some tune in to watch the events on television, at the comfort of their home.
Events of the occasion are looked-forward to festivities each year.
However, this year’s Independence Day falls at a time the country has been pushing through the fearful storm that is the global Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s security forces and authorities restless in their response efforts to keep the people safe.
Earlier this month, the government cancelled all celebrations as part of the cost-cutting measures triggered by the Covid-19 impacts on the country’s economy. The decision was made accordingly with the new normal guidelines in place to contain the risk of further spread.
This decision is expected to help reduce the strain on state expenditure, as part of the authorities’ ongoing efforts on the road to recovery.