A Rejection of Reconciliation via Namo/Namo: Weeraratna’s Hardline Sinhala Majoritarian Statement*

Senaka Weeraratna … See Note ** at end

senaka-weeraratnaThe primordial national identity of this country is Sinhale and religious identity is Buddhist. These two historical identities should not be allowed to be dispensed with in order to embrace an artificial secular identity (Sri Lankan) that has neither roots to the soil of the country nor been shaped either by history, common values, heritage or destiny.

dharmapala_at_parliament  Anagarika Dharmapala

One way of ensuring that the primordial national identity of the Sinhalese people continues is to identify oneself in any form or NIC or Passport as  follows: “Sri Lankan (Sinhala)

No one should be allowed to object to that since the country was called Sinhale (or Sinhaladweepa) before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505.

Nation building is important not only to Sri Lanka but to all countries that is facing tension due to the entry of waves of immigrants and forced displacement of indigenous people e.g. Kandyan peasantry, by the colonial powers to achieve economic goals.

The autochthonous people that built this unique Buddhist civilization in an island territory that was called ‘ Sinhale’ for over two thousand years until that name was bastardized or corrupted ( to be known as ‘Ceylon’ )  with the entry of the Portuguese in 1505, cannot be placed on the same footing as latter day arrivals in terms of allocation of credit for contribution to the making of a nation.

That would be tantamount to a great injustice.Through misrepresentation and distortion of history to solve a so called ethnic problem Sinhala Buddhists are now being called to make sacrifices to accommodate others that no other country in the world so far has done or would do.

Look at the examples of Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand – what have they done to accommodate minorities?

Do any of these countries have national anthems sung in two languages?

Donald Trump in his inaugural address placed an emphasis on Patriotism. He called for a National Day of Patriotism. To remember those who fought to keep the country intact and protect national values.

In Sri Lanka we have not only failed to remember them but are now in the process of erasing these names from school text books more or less in line with the command given by the Belgian King Leopold.

Writing to Colonial Missionaries in 1883, King Leopold II of Belgium declared “teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours”.

“Christian norms of forgive and forget cannot be allowed to erase a country’s history and replace it with a new narrative by people working to agendas.  A country’s history, is a country’s history. Just because elements of that history are unsavoury to some it cannot be erased and replaced with what is palatable to only a few”.



In the 23 years (1885-1908) Leopold II ruled the Congo he massacred 10 million Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals, flogging them to death, starving them into forced labour, holding children ransom and burning villages while not even setting a foot in Congo. http://www.digitaljournal.com/blog/11297

In 1883 King Leopold II better known as the Butcher of Congo wrote to the Colonial Missionaries. These were his orders

  • “the task that is given to fulfil is very delicate and requires much tact”
  • *your evangelization must inspire ….Beligium interests’
  • *your principle objective …in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God”
  • “your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering and encouraging your followers to love poverty” – happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven.
  • “your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they wont revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parents’ teachings.”
  • “teach students to read and not to reason”
  • “evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists’
  • “convert the blacks by using the whip. Keep their women in nine months of submission to work freely for us”
  • “make sure that niggers never become rich” sing every day that it is impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday mass.
  • “teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours”

“All missionaries carried out and continue to carry this mandate. The role has been transferred to local priests, bishops, Cardinals, Born-agains who are ever ready to demonize native deities and history and promote foreign interests only”.

The forging of a modern day national identity i.e. Sri Lankan, should not be at the expense of discarding altogether the primordial national identity i.e. Sinhala.

We are not prepared to erase our Sinhala identity to solve a problem created by foreigners and their local fellow travellers who have sinister designs to divide and rule this country like in the dark past when the country was ruled by the fiat of European colonialism (1505-1948).

***  ***

** A NOTE by Editor, Thuppahi

This essay was sent directly to my email address by Senaka Weeraratna as a protest against my advocacy of orchestrated deployment of the national anthem in two languages as long-term project to instill a multi-ethnic concept of “Sri Lankan” that embraces other loyalties within its confederative sentiments. I have met Weeraratna in regard to cricketing issues.  Weeraratne’s father and family had a prominent jewelery business and have been central forces in the outreach activities of the  German Dharmadutha Society. Senaka  is a product of Royal College and is also a vigorous advocate of the missionary and political endeavours of Anagarika Dharmapala. His response to my  suggestions are therefore in step with the thinking of Dharmapala who equated the majoritarian “Sinhala” concept with the concept  “Ceylon.”  ** He is a contemporary activist and appeared before before the LLRC  on 13th January 2011: this public presentation can be found at  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxbk4wYolphwZTRmNGM3ZDYtZTg3Zi00ODNlLTkyZDUtZDgwYWViYjkyZWNk/view

For the moment, I will not say more about the content of Weeraratna’s protest – including his selective and bizarre tour of world history, but let me stress that the national anthem is sung in several tongues in South Africa and New Zealand and, as I suspect, in several other countries.

Weeraratna’s position statement is an important document and I encourage commentary within this site or through essays sent to me at michael.roberts01@adelaide.edu.au OR mrober137@mail.com

** NOTE on this topic please spend time reading the following essays from my pen: 

Roberts 1978 ‘Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka and Sinhalese Perspectives: Barriers to Accommodation,’ Modern Asian Studies, 12: 353-76.

Roberts 2009a “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” Frontline, 19 June 2009, 26: 24-27.

Roberts 2009b ‘Sinhala Mindset,’ 9 Dec. 2009, http://thuppahis.com/the-sinhala-mind-set/.

Roberts 2012 ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa: Cakravarti Imagery and Populist Processes,’ 28 January 2012, http://thuppahis.com/2012/01/28/mahinda-rajapaksa-cakravarti-imagery-and-populist-processes/

Roberts 2014 “Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation,13 May 2014, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ideological-cancers-within-the-sinhala-universe/

Roberts 2013 “Sinhalaness and Its reproduction, 1232-1818,” in Asanga Welikala (ed.) The Republic at Forty, https://thuppahis.com/2013/02/09/the-sri-lankan-republic-at-40-reflections-on-constitutional-history-theory-and-practice/


Filed under accountability, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, democratic measures, fundamentalism, governance, historical interpretation, language policies, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, violence of language, world events & processes, zealotry

11 responses to “A Rejection of Reconciliation via Namo/Namo: Weeraratna’s Hardline Sinhala Majoritarian Statement*

  1. I disagree. Identifying by race even in the birth certificate is the cause of most of the ethnic problems. We should take an example from Singapore. Everyone is a Singaporean and we should all be Sri Lankan (earlier Ceylonese, which I still prefer)

    • Ivan Amarasinghe

      Collection of hereditary data as entries on the traditional (British introduced?) format of the Birth Certificate is very useful. It will form a historical repository of Sri lankan people for future generations to research on. Here in the UK, it is very much the practice and the BBC has produced a documentary series entitled Who You Think You Are which traces individuals “roots” going back to Doomsday records.Cfi: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/
      e.g. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s ancestry includes British and European Royalty.
      Why do some of our people want to “hide” our citizen’s ancestral details? How shallow is that! Or is it an attempt to cover up on some devious agenda? Singapore was basically a historical Pirates’ Refuge/Outpost in the nether regions of peninsular Malaya. What the British did was to get the Chinese to chase the Malays away and encourage the South Indians to settle down as Thuppahi assistants and aids to the rule of the British Raj. The British sanitised the same modus operandi of the historical pirates (shipping and trading post with attendant sensual pleasures) and legitimised it as a respectable State because they identified the profit potential of Singapore as their own outpost. Sri Lanka has a different history and different interests for its people. It is not the compulsory inclusion of hereditary data that may be faulted but the mindset of otherwise racially partisan evangelists. We are what we are and we are all Sri Lankans. So why hide our hereditary details?

  2. Identifying by race is the cardinal mistake which causes ethnic problems. Like in Singapore where all are Singaporeans, we should be Sri Lankan (preferably Ceylonese)


    The so called Sri Lankan nation does not exist in substance – only the Sinhala nation exists.

    Jayantha Liyanage

  4. HMGB.Kotakadeniya

    I agree with the sentiments expressed by Seneka- totally and without reservation. This country belongs to the Sinhalese who build a nation that one can be proud of, and gave succor and protection to the minorities including the Muslims and Catholics when they were under siege . This is a well known fact which the late Mr Kathiragarman epitomized by stating publicly that no other nation treats its minorities with the concern and magnanimity like the Sinhalese.He was killed by those who advocate reconciliation today, for pronouncing the obvious. The Sinhalese and their culture had been tormented and demonized by colonial rulers for five centuries and they were never given any relief even after independence. The writer of this comment was not given the position of the head of his deparment in which he served by the present PM because he was a Sinhala Buddhist and was told that the position should be given to a Tamil Christian because it would facilitate the cease-fire agreement that the PM signed with Prabhakaran. .

  5. Anagarika Dharmapala, was more keen in promoting and fostering Buddhism here abd abroad, than protecting Sinhala. It is said that he chastised Bhikkus not to stay in temples and fill spitoons but go ou and preach, He achieved his target and unfortunately there was none nto consolidate what he had achieved and the present situation where Bhikkus have taken to politics and made Buddhism a business venture, neglecting their religious duties. My personal disgusting, humiliating experience at the famous Rajamaha Viharaya in my area, when I went to get a PIRITH NOOLA for an ailing child, a monk in this famous taemple refused and wanted me to come later. I met the Chief incumbant of the temple who is well known and complained of what had happened. He, to my utter surprise, defending the action of the monk in his temple , said that tying of PIRITH NOOLA has become a nuisence , and hinders other work. If I mention the name of this well known Chief Monk, and the temple, you will be surprised. That is the level how our monks treat Buddhism, not to speak of allowing temple premisses as political party offices, distributing Sil redi, canvassing votes for a particular candidate or political party. The displicable rowdy behavious of monks at public places, brandishing clubs, using obscene language and other crimes. This is the area which your concern must be forcussed. To me a disciplined monkhood is a must for a disciplned law abiding society.
    As for singing the national anthem in other languages [Tamil] I am not agaist, as it is sung in the same tune with TAMIL words giving the same meaning, thus they undersdtand what they sing in praise of Sri Lanka, which shows we are one nation.- Lankans.
    It is true we Sinhalese are the majority but being so does not mean we should claim superiority. To compare the past with the present is not quite correct, as attitudes and aspirations have changed. The population then was a couple of millions while the present is nearly 20 millin.
    We should not be fanatics to speak as Sinhalese, Buddhists and as Buddha said, ‘Sachtta pari Yoda panan, Ethan Buddhanu Sasanan – Purify your mind and that is Buddha’s advise.

  6. The Buddhist Priests I remember in my childhood were so dedicated and humble. I recall them coming to the gate with the “Pathraya” before noon and humbly accepting any food given. Today, it is a very different story. Whilst there are still a few good priests, the majority are just ‘ Humans” donning a yellow robe which can be purchased by anyone in the open market. These types are made up of common thugs, opportunists and politicians in disguise, power hungry, corrupt and totally immersed in making a more lucrative life for themselves. They enter politics to achieve this goal. A real Buddhist priest will confine himself to spreading the teachings of the Buddha and not enter politics or business.

  7. sach

    I my self a Sinhala nationalist who wants to work for the well being of Sinhala people and culture. But I think my Sinhala brethren should understand the Sinhale concept and Sri Lankan concept are two different things.
    The reality is we have to live in an island which is multi cultural and multi ethnic. While we need to acknowledge Sri Lanka is the native homeland of the Sinhala people which are people defended it has to go ahead as a multi ethnic secular modern nation.

  8. Pingback: An Essential Embracement: For A Bilingual National Anthem on 4th February | Thuppahi's Blog

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