It’s been a few days since the former President’s body was brought to Maldives and buried with all the fanfare reserved for a once-President. From the moment I heard the news of his death I’ve felt like I was watching a tennis match.
On one side were those who considered President Nasir to be a dictator and tyrant, directly responsible for the death of a large number of Maldivians and only a step behind (or forward, depending on who you ask) Maumoon in ruthlessness and hunger for power. On the other side were the people who seemed to think he was the best thing that had happened to the country. So… there were people who thought he was great and almost an equal number of people who thought he was nothing but a big tyrant. There were even those who thought he was a bit of both: a great big tyrant!
Despite the fact that he was a former President I didn’t feel compelled to go and take a look at his dead body while it was displayed for the public inside the Presidential Palace. It was nothing personal since I really felt nothing against him; I was just not interested and there more immediate things that required my attention. The thought of checking out the much hyped about “wonders” inside the Presidential Palace was a big draw, I admit, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
Considering the amount of people who went to see the body, I’m inclined to think there were those who went there just to brag about having seen a dead president, some who genuinely wanted to pay their last respects to a person they considered to be great, some who just wanted to grab the chance to enter the Presidential Palace and those who just wanted to make sure that Nasir really was dead.
Even on the MVBlogs it was the same. There were several blogs that praised him while an equal amount seemed to say good riddance to bad rubbish. The media however seemed entirely focused on portraying the former President in a good light. Every positive aspect of the development of Maldives has now more or less attributed to him, leaving ex-President Maumoon with egg on his face.
There were some who were on the fence too. I think I could be counted among those. Some of my friends hate Nasir because of the Havaru Thinadhoo incident. Those friends whose relatives were directly affected by the incident hate Nasir with a vengeance. To me Nasir was a non-entity. Maumoon came into power long before I was old enough to even understand what a Government was. None of my family members were affected either way (as far as I know) by the change in Government and so I wasn’t raised in an environment where people discussed the heinous crimes said to have been committed by Nasir. Even if it was discussed, I have no recollection of it.
While rummaging through the Dhivehi book shelves at the old National Library I saw many issues of “Aabaaru” (I think it was called) which had cartoons that depicted Nasir as a demon intent on amassing as much wealth as he could before Maumoon the Saviour sent him packing. For many years during my childhood I thought Nasir was a fictional monster, like Foolhu Dhigu Handi or Rannamaari (ok, so they seemed pretty real at the time). Then later, during Social Studies classes in school, I did learn some of the history of Maldives including the bit that the President who was in power before Maumoon was residing in Singapore — but to me that was nothing more than a fact to memorize to ensure an extra mark on my exams.
During the last few days I’ve heard more about how great and how evil Nasir was than I want to know and that has really left me conflicted. So will the real Nasir please stand up? Oh wait. Too late.