Come dance along to the rhythmic sway as waves of sound come crashing on the shores of 'Fannuge Dharin' - the 'Children of Talent' as I join in celebrating 5 years of music, art, communal spirit and efforts to raise the bar of the local artist community.
Returning to mark the 5 years since the musical, art-infused sessions first took place in 2013, the organization held their grandest and longest event till date, celebrating with over 50 'Fannu Verin', loosely translating to 'People of Talent' across the various components that were showcased on the platform.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when popular talent platform 'Fannuge Dharin', loosely translating to 'Children of Talent', kicked off the festivities with original electronic music by renowned local producers, Manal (Autonomotor), Mohamed Simon (Om:mega), Ali Afruh (Anguru), Ibrahim Shifan (Seffron), in addition to Yoosuf Amsal Shahban, the youngest out of the bunch, performing his productions live on stage.
Shifan represented his own label company, 'Darkon Recordings'. The label is currently gaining International recognition as many International artists have already signed to the label.
On the other hand, Manal has had his productions released on German record label 'Noland' and Sri Lankan label 'Jambutek, while Afruh spearheads local electronic music collective 'Project:Isle' alongside Manal.
Simon shared his taste for emotionally driven melancholic collaborations with Shafya Rameez (thappu) and Zara Mujthaba.
The event garnered a lot of attention as visitors flocked to the recently built Skatepark in the reclaimed suburb of Hulhumale'. People were gathering left and right to witness and interact with an array of musicians, visual artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.
Following the electrifying and tropical sounds from the local producers, came the organic band performances.
The Fannu (talent) stage saw the likes of famous and debuting artists, some with original content and most with their interpretations of cover songs, both local and foreign.
However, the stars that shone the brightest on stage turned out to be the youngest of all participants, the three souls called Zoya, Shaaee and Juni who each sang a song with the Soul Berry Band. Talk about girl power, am I right?!
Of the three very inspiring performances, Zoya was the only one to sing in the local language.
Bringing about a change from the traditional 'Fannuge Dharin' routine, the team behind the initiative expanded the event by including entrepreneurs in the field of crafts, food and beverage.
As I walked around the event, I couldn't help but find myself captivated by the work of all the uber-talented visual artists, all of whom were putting together 'live paintings' right next to their exhibitions.
As an aspiring artist myself, I looked on intently, trying to pick up on their techniques and learn as much as I could. However knowing that making art of any kind is no easy task, it dawned on me that these gifted individuals made it seem as though they could do this in their sleep (and you know, they probably could).
The star-studded lineup included 'Mal's Art', 'Sam's Imolara', 'Phiiiru', Eenas Ahmed, Fariha Jamal and more.
Apart from the mostly female selection of artists, were the craftspeople and creative stalls appearing at the event.
The stall by 'Arty Fingers', in particular, is worth highlighting for the enormously fun and creative workshop-esque, no rules-just paint policy that captivated the hearts of the kids who roamed around the event.
'Arty Fingers', an art workshop run by local artists Azleina Fathmath (Azu) and husband Ismail Ashwad (Eday) celebrated International Children's Day full of colourful smiles and free to try art activities.
Those wishing to partake could pick a colour from an assortment of watercolours and crayons to simply let loose and create art without any restrictions.
This year, in a shift away from the traditional 'Fannuge Dharin' routine, the team behind the initiative expanded the event by including entrepreneurs in the field of crafts, food and beverage.
In addition to the artists, creatives and foodies that were a part of the gathering, infusing the space with positive vibes were onlookers and participants. Wandering about, one could lock eyes with a friend, family or stranger, and find a kindred spirit engrossed in the love and celebration of music, swaying and bobbing their heads, in the presence of beautiful art and the sweet aromas of coffee and food.
"Fannu is awesome dude! I miss this feeling of having love, good energy, and art all around me" said Mohamed Saaidh, a visitor at the event.
"I hope we have more of this. It was great to have Fannu again, to meet everyone in this atmosphere...but I really wish that Fannu and festivals like Katti Hivvaru would pop-up more frequently" expressed Mohamed.
Another interesting initiative by the Fannu team is the water distribution point on the event premises. Participants and visitors were advised to bring their own reusable water bottles, as drinking water by local conservation project 'Plastic Noon Gotheh' and water manufacturing company, 'Handy Water' were provided free of charge.
Furthermore, the organizers advocated for a litter-free environment by establishing garbage points and signposts throughout the event area, while actively calling for no littering over the sound system. Although to my dismay, a substantial amount of litter was found on site.
The leading organizer, musician and bassist Adhuham Mohamed Rashid described 'Fannuge Dharin' as a platform by artists for artists, both upcoming and established, to meet, share and inspire one another while aiming to provide a space for budding artists to grow with the help of more experienced creatives in the community.
"With the love that we have received, by God's will, we will begin to host monthly sessions in the future."
Revealing that the food and craft stalls were incorporated to better sustain the reoccurring event as the collective receives a commission from the revenue generated by these stalls, Adhuham also expressed his gratitude to all relevant authorities for their cooperation that led to the successful celebration of this major milestone for the collective.
Fannuge Dharin, it seems, is a true collaboration within the community.
Moreover, Adhuham requested experienced artists, be it musicians, painters and various other creatives to come forward and be a part of the collaborative space to meet, share, inspire and to help mold the future of the art community in the country.
Over the years the 'Fannuge Dharin' stage has earned its prestige having been performed on by several beloved local musicians, calling among its alumnus the likes of legendary Ahmed 'Fuloo' Nashid and his daughter Nishfa Nashid, Ahmed Affan (Appi), Nausheyn Zubair (Fah'thu) and Anya Haleem, to name a few.
"At first I felt a burst of anxiety, but as I got along with other artists and saw how they performed...I slowly started getting into the groove of really wanting to perform" said the debut artist Yoosuf, surveying his own feelings whilst performing at the event.
"It is an amazing platform and not just for musicians! It's an amazing way to show people what you are capable of creating and share it with everyone."
"Fannuge Dharin has, and will always be what it tells you it is. A place where anyone can fit in and express themselves" said the young artist.