A local environmental 'NGO' ('club' would be a more accurate word perhaps), spearheaded by the island youth and rather grandly called Kaanu Greenpeace, is having its grand opening this evening. The deposed president is supposed to be coming. There have been ongoing preparations for some time rising to a frenzy the last couple of days. The Community Centre is the centre of operations where an endless stream of stencils are being cut and banners made, some in English and some in Dhivehi, and draped on nearly every street corner on the island (examples: 'BE PROUD OF MY KUDAFARI', 'WE DO RESPECT OUR ELDERS', 'TREES ARE FOR HUGGING', 'FRESHWATER AQUIFER DEPLETION THREATENS WATER SUPPLIES'). My favourite is in Dhivehi - someone read it to me - and says simply 'fehifehi mage kudafari', 'Green, green, my Kudafari'. Invitations to the grand opening tomorrow night appeared yesterday at every house, which really is advance planning: party invitations are often taken round to houses but only ever, in my experience hitherto, on the actual day (this was true even for last week's double wedding). On the beach a pier-cum-stage has been built out into the sea from scaffolding poles, carts go back and forth carrying things, a group of boys take a sack of empty Foster Clark's glass jars down to the shore to scrub them clean with sand to make lanterns to hang in trees, beaches and roads are swept, and stout bamboo poles have been lashed together to make bicycle racks all over the island. These will be populated in time with bikes which you will be able to take and ride to another rack. It's nice to know that this scheme will be undisturbed by even the slightest hint of bike theft (bike locks are unheard of here), unlike a similar scheme in Cambridge in the early 1990s masterminded by the totally bonkers Simon Sedgwick-Jell where all the similarly unsecured bikes, entirely predictably, had vanished within the first 24 hours of the scheme, set up with billboards and racks at great expense. The Kudafari bike scheme is an attempt to head off an increase in motorcycles, which are of course entirely unnecessary on the samll island, though there are already one or two.
Kaanu means 'drain', I understand, but the name comes from Kaanu City, a kind of loose youth group and the name of one of the many football teams on the island. The word was adopted as a code word at school by the cohort that left school a couple of years ago or so, to mean 'cigarette', then a forbidden item to them (once they turn 16 all the boys smoke almost without exception). It doesn't strike me as the most auspicious etymology for an environmental organisation, but let us hope it transcends its carcinogenic origins.
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