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Ambassador Butenis Announces Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation in Maldives

October 5, 2011
Ambassador Butenis delivering her remarks at the event. (State Dept.)

Ambassador Butenis delivering her remarks at the event.(State Dept.)

I want to welcome everyone to the American Center here in Male.  It is our pleasure to host this important event today.  Thank you to Hulhevi Media and Mr. Ahmed Shafeeu.  Also thanks to Mr Sodiq, who rediscovered the Buruni Kamana Raivaru story that we are learning more about.  I also want to thank Buruni Project Linguistic Director, Ms. Yumna Maumoon and the Minister for State Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ahmed Naseer, for joining us in this special announcement. 

Since its creation over a decade ago by the United States Congress, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided financial support to more than 640 cultural projects in over 100 countries. This accomplishment represents a contribution of nearly $26 million towards the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. More importantly, it shows the depth of our nation’s respect for the cultural heritage of other countries. 

This fund supports the conservation of cultural sites, monuments, objects, and collections.   Cultural heritage serves as a reminder of the historical experiences and achievements of humanity and offers important lessons for today.  The more we know about each other -- and about our world’s diversity of cultures and traditions -- the more common ground we share. 

While many of the programs we have done in the past focus on the preservation of paintings, or buildings, or things you can physically touch, today’s announcement is about a very different kind of cultural preservation – culture in its most elemental form – the spoken word.  Today we award the 2011 Ambassador’s Fund in Maldives to Hulhevi  Media.  With this $25,000 award, Hulhevi Media will work to preserve one of Maldives most important oral traditions, the Buruni Kamana Raivaru , which is considered the greatest Maldivian Love Story.  This epic story beautifully describes a bygone era in Maldivian history and highlights the importance of the role that women played in Maldivian society.   

This epic ballad has existed orally, passing from generation to generation for over a century but has never been completely recorded and is on the verge of being lost to history.  In its fullest form, this rich story is a six-hour  representation of the unique way of life of the Giraavaru, who are believed to be among the earliest inhabitants of Maldives.  While this ballad may be threatened by the modern world, it is now thanks to the modern world that we are able to protect and preserve this great work.  

Funds for this project will be used to research, record, and finally document the Buruni Kamana Raivaru.  The preservation of these oral traditions will conclude with the publication of a book and a research film, making the Buruni Kamana Raivaru accessible to future generations for scholarly and literary study.  But equally as important, we hope it will inspire Maldivians, especially young people, to learn more about their cultural heritage. 

Congratulations and thanks to everyone working on wonderful this project.