"" Welcome to my thoughts: The true story of the Hoarafushi fan

Friday, July 30, 2004

The true story of the Hoarafushi fan

When the word Hoarafushi is heard, it is usually accompanied by fan.
Fan not only refers to an island, it is also used as part of those islanders' nicknames or titles. But when people say There's a fan we all know it means someone from Hoarafushi.
So, what is the relationship between a fan and the island of Hoarafushi? What has spliced these two words together in the last twenty years? And how true is the old story about the man operating an electric fan by hand and then falling asleep on the job?
A hand-operated fan was indeed invented in Hoarafushi. It was designed by Abdulla Hamza, an ingenious and skillful engineer who was born in the island, and still lives there. The invention has become an alternative name for his birthplace.
'The stories about the fan contain some elements of truth, but there's a lot of lies too, intended to ridicule my invention,' says Hamza, aged 69.
In his younger days, Hamza invented gadgets to help with his work. Apart from the manual ceiling fan, he made engine parts and a big contribution to the clock produced by the people of Hoarafushi for the National Handicraft Exhibition. The clock was the inspiration for a poem as well.
'The fan was something I tested and improved, and eventually it was a great success,' says Hamza. 'Regardless of all the ridicule it's had from people, the fan was a real achievement for me.'
His fan had three blades, and it wasn't made for a visiting Malé dignitary. 'I made the fan for a house where circumcised boys were recovering, not because a VIP was visiting the island,' Hamza explains. 'And the story that the man operating the fan was asleep when the dignitary arrived, is a big lie too.
The fan was installed overhead and a cord was attached to the fan base on the ceiling and threaded through a pulley about 60 cm. away, and from there, one end of the cord hung down. 'Standing on the floor, you could make the fan rotate. The operator was behind a cardboard partition, hidden from the others in the room. It worked well.'
The axle and hub were obtained from an engine, and he made his own blades. 'In those days we didn't have electric power, and I'd never seen a fan like that in Malé. The idea came into my mind after I saw a ceiling fan in a photograph.'
So, why is it that people ridicule natives of Hoarafushi, and the island itself, calling them fan?
'I can tell you why,' says Hamza. 'I used to work on a boat. At that time there were people onboard who had studied engineering. Though I hadn't studied, I was more skilled than they were. I understood how things worked. One day, one of them became angry and said to me, 'You're the one who made that manual fan, aren't you.' I said, 'So what? What's the problem?' He said there wasn't any problem, except the idea of making manual versions of electrical appliances.That's how the story spread. Since then I've been called fan, along with my children and even the people of this island. Now the whole island is known as fan. Though it's an insult, it's also a symbol of success for me.'
Hamza spent most of his life as an engineer, inventing many new things in his workshop. But the one invention he'll never forget is the fan.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hama hus dhogu hoarafushyga athun fanka anburan ovva e meehaa nidhuny... word of a hoarafushi man huh? Cant believe a damn thing... if its not a lie "clap! Clap! Clap! Huhuhuhahaha 😂😂😂 masheh nuhen lol....