CONSULTATION ON NATIONAL POETRY
The meeting on national poetry was held in Endevor meeting hall on 28 nov 2015. Seven distinguished persons attended.
The discussion was fruitful with Dr. Ashraf Abdul Raheem giving an interesting keynote presentation on Allama Iqbal and his superlative contribution to poetry. He was known for his nationalistic poetry that moved the whole South Asia continent towards the independence movement. His poems contrasted the hardships that the colonialists brought to our region and the luxury they lived in take our wealth and leaving the natives of these countries in destitute and psychologically subdued condition. He also wrote about love and human feelings that inspired a whole generation of poets in Hindustan and in its environs.
The many early poets of Maldives were also moved by this new genre and followed suit particularly as they were also educated in India and Pakistani schools. Their interest then spilled onto local poets who were not necessarily associated with education abroad. Urdu began a new rise in the education of the masses and through this found the inspirational materials from writers such as Mirza Ghalib and Iqbal.
Iqbal's poetic life was in three stages. One was his poetry for children in the early part of the 1900s. The next ten years or so the second decade was on political and on the awareness of the colonialist activities to move regional minds towards the need for being liberated from their yoke. The second and third decade also brought out Islamic history and the love of Allah. In poems that showed a dialogue with Allah as Shikwa for which he was first vilified. But later in his next poem ‘Jawab E Shikwa’ the people again rallied around his writings. He exhorted to youth to have eman and move the awareness from the head to the heart. That this was the way to enjoy the depth of poetry.
In Maldives Shihab and Habeeba wrote on the writings of Iqbal.
Later with the collaboration of Mohamed Ali Jinnah and others the idea of the birth of Pakistan also became moot. Later also was the Majlis of Iblees 1936 and there was the jawaab to this. Then came the idea of Jumhuriyat and the move away from kingdom to democracy.
Why are poets respected? Because they represent rich thinking that is different to general thinking and the move towards feeling even from respect to love - From head to heart.
Great poets look at nature and relate this to human nature. Those that show consonance are those souls that are elevated. All great poets show ways to respect or represent the issues of politics to politicians. But they know how to get out of blame also. Utheemu Adam Ali had great skill in this even though he used a lot of political allegory.
The fly and the spider poem by Iqbal shows how delicately the spider entices the fly even though it was aware of the shady nature of the spider. Poets can vilify or flatter delicately. Shihab and Bodufenvalhuge Seedhi and few others in Maldives did such balancing in their poetry.
Iqbal inspired the Nation to nationalism.
Allegory about the flower and its Shikwa about why god gave it such a short time for beauty. Why is it taken away so soon? What lessons can we learn from this?
In the discussions that ensued it was felt that Maldives youth are beginning to get interested in poetry says Ramla Abdul Ghanee who attended the meeting. But our use of Dhivehi is getting less in our literature and poetry and it also appears that usage is also getting weaker. We need to make it stronger and richer.
What is the role of intellectuals in Maldives? Is it to promote nationalism? Asks Jadullah Jameel.
We see that intellectuals are sidelined in Maldives.
No opportunity to participate. The young and inexperienced is put in high positions. We need to connect and build bridges between various professions. We need to think about emotional quotient (EQ), not only IQ. How can we have intellectual debates? We need to learn how to differentiate between Khiyaal and Fikuru.
We could revive this through talking to school children - crafting our presentation according to the response capacity of the age group. We can talk to parents too among other things, the value of poetry as a means of deepening a child's intellectual capacity and intelligence.
Could we do this in collaboration with the Dhivehi Bahuge Academy? At present it is clear that Hubbul Watan or Gaumee Loabi or love for our nation is withering. The reasons are many and these can be a topic for Endevor’s think tank function. Is there any desire of service to the nation? Or has this turned to service to only myself? Money had replaced all other lofty ideals in the rush towards getting rich.
Students don't want to do Dhivehi in schools. They think it is boring, but Ashraf says that can be because schools administrations and the curriculum developers and the teacher training give no attention for Dhivehi. He has had a different experience. In fact he turned a boring subject into an interesting one when he was teaching in a school.
So techniques of teaching that inspires is necessary. Need good teachers with interest to inspire students, connect related topics such as Akhlaaq and Gaumiyyath, or talk about English and Dhivehi in the context of our nationhood. In CHSC only Ashraf was well respected as a Dhivehi teacher. He noted Imad Solih and Anil AG, Sofoora and Tholal and Aishath Sujoon Ghany.
Why don't we have good teachers is a topic for think tank Endevor.
We then ended by reciting some poems by participants: Ramla recited her lhen on advice to us all, and other poems she had composed in 2008 Mujuthaba recited an English language poem he had composed in 2003 titled ‘memory of war’.
We took away from this meeting the promise of continuing this in the future with more meetings and communication that will help Maldivian society rekindle interest in the literary arts.