on 26 July 1988
woman of gigantic stature, of African descent
when angered, left on anything a dent,
known to be of a romantic temperament.
married a Maldivian indigent
slight Didi whose lack of energy was evident,
for her was never meant.
she sold for a cent,
big wigs little favours she lent,
on young lads, she lavishly spent.
she chewed constantly for enjoyment,
the mouth red and radiant
matching it well with her garment.
African Wench was quite liberated and independent,
by no means very innocent,
knew a few ways to keep people silent.
African Wench" the person was a Negro slave bought
and imported from a slave market near Mecca by one of the
aristocratic families of Male. She was the last of a long
line of African and Eastern European (Charukeysi)
slaves imported to Male, up until early in the twentieth
century. She was normally called "Baburu Manje",
which meant "Negro Wench". Her legal name was
Baburu Aminah Fulu. Most imported African and European slaves
were given Maldivian names on purchase. There were some
slaves who were allowed to keep their native names. Three
slaves owned by our family come to mind. They were Heyna,
Combo, and Akayambo Yamakuwa, all Negro men. A massive Negro
woman, complete with tribal markings branded across her
face, "The African Wench" would have stood out
among the rather diminutive Maldivians. Baburu Aminah Fulu
died in the 1950ís.
Rasheed did not include "The African Wench"
in his anthology of poems and verses because the ethnically
polarised American readership was likely to misunderstand
it. In fact from the point of view of Maldives society up
until the mid-twentieth century, there was no ethnic derogation
in the poem. Slaves, both Negro and Eastern European held
a higher status compared to many common Maldivians, because
of the status of their owners.
is literal translation of "githeyo-mirus".
"Ghee" is an Anglo-Indian term used for
clarified butter, which in Maldivian is called githeyo.
"Githeyo-mirus" is a variety of very hot
peppers sometimes known as "Scotchmanís bonnet".