Michael Roberts, reproduing here an article that appeared initially in 1989 with the same title in Ethnos, 55: 1-2:69-82. … and also in Swedish inLanka. Tidskrift om Lankesisk Kultur (Uppsala), No. 2, March 1989. I regret that the presentation here has not been able to incoroporate diacritica for indigenous words.
ABSTRACT: This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Maraya; the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces. The piecemeal reinterpretation of this short text, however, must be overlaid by a holistic perspective and the realisation that its rendering in oral form enabled its purveyors to lace the story with a satirical flavour: so that the Portuguese and Catholicism are, like demons, rendered both disordering and comic, dangerous and inferior – thus ultimately controllable. In contending in this manner that the folktale is an act of nationalist opposition, the article is designed as an attack on the positivist empiricism which pervades the island’s historiography and shuts out imaginative reconstructions which are worked out by penetrating the subjective world of the ancient texts.
The history of transportation in Ceylon forms an interesting backdrop to the economic developments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the beginning of the nineteenth century however, military exigencies rather than economic considerations were the determining factors in the construction of roads by the colonial government. Understandably, much attention was centered on the recently acquired Kandyan territories over which the British were determined to strengthen their hold.
The Satinwood Bridge at Peradeniya (a description questioned by /Gerald Peiris)
Siri Ipalawatte of Canberra writing in The Island, 23 October 2021, where the title reads “An amazing Sri Lankan – ‘the power of one’
From Tidbinbilla to rain forests, red wines to thelijja, cappaccino to kurumba, five-stars to homestay…. Just when I thought I had touched every nook and cranny of Sri Lanka, it sprung yet another surprise. An old Uni friend suggested ‘why not visit the unusual and weird landscape called Ussangoda—the place in Hindu Mythology where King Ravana landed his air machine, dandu-monara? And off came another nugget! He said a batchmate of ours lived in a century-old house in a village called Kiula — an exotic name from the fact that the water in the area is kiul as it gets mixed with an underground seashell bed and salt water —very close to Ussangoda. This chance encounter led to a number of texts and mobile calls, and a few days later, a memorable sleepover in his house located between the 217 and 218t kilometre-post on the A2 highway between the sleepy towns of Hungama and Ambalantota in the southern Sri Lanka.
Ameer Ali’s essay of 6 June 2021 in the Colombo Telegraph [reproduced recently in Thuppahi ……… https://thuppahis.com/2021/10/24/betwixt-india-and-china-little-lanka/) suffers from three fatal flaws. First, there is a failure to identify his political affiliations and to show some understanding of how this might influence his opinions. Second, by failing to do so, he presents his claims and arguments as if these were absolute truths. Third, he fails to critically evaluate US, Indian and CBK interests and intentions. He presents a false representation of what is occurring in the world today in the context of US efforts to demonize China as “a threat” in an attempt to undermine its rise. He makes a dangerous recommendation as to how Sri Lanka should manage India and China interests by urging the government to join the US confrontation against China. He is clearly a cheerleader for CBK and the anti-Rajapakse crowd in Colombo.
In this response essay, I will unpack six claims made by Ameer to explain why each are blatantly false.
ACL Ameer Aliin Colombo Telegraph, 6 June 2021, where the title is “Delhi’s Choice & Colombo’s Highway to Beijing ” … but note that the highlighting is an imposition of The Editor, Thuppahi
Post-war Sri Lanka has turned into a contestable terrain for a new Great Game played chiefly between two regional powers, India and China with their respective allies. Although India’s presumption of control over the Indian Ocean remained uncontested once the former colonial masters started leaving the region one by one, Indian historians and political strategists like K. M. Panikkar warned Independent India of economic and security perils of surrendering control over Indian Ocean[…]
With the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement, together with the emergence of Critical Race Theory, the spotlight has once again been shone on the heinous institution that was slavery and its aftermath, racial discrimination. Could anything be worse than a system in which a human being becomes the property of another, to do with as the slave owner sees fit?
For good reason, the ownership of one human being by another is now universally prohibited, at least legally, for the inhumane abomination it has always been. Yet, in rejecting slavery it is easy to overlook one aspect that may be identified, for lack of a better word, as its sole positive feature. Namely, it was not in the slave owner’s interest to kill their slaves outright, for only living slaves made it possible for the owner to profit from their labor.
Earl Barthelot, in Ceylon Digest, 22 February 2020, where the title reads “The Portuguese Burghers of Ceylon”
Sri Lanka is well known for its diversity with over 22 numerically small communities and majority communities such as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Burgher community is one of the numerically small communities. Large proportions of the Burghers do live in the Batticaloa District and a small proportion live both in Trincomalee and Ampara District. At the same time there are Portuguese Burghers living in all parts of the country in small numbers.
MEMO from Michael Roberts, October 16 October 2021
Moving from BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI to the Greet and Paynter lineages in British Ceylon-and-thereafter has raised a query in my mind: how is it that the category “ANGLO-Ceylonese” did not take root in Ceylon and Lanka in contrast with British India where the label “Anglo-Indian” became well-entrenched and therefore was carried over to the era after India secured Independence in 1947?As we know, Revd Arthur Paynter was an Anglo-Indian missionary who established the Paynter Homes in the Himalayan region of India and then set up the Paynter Home in Nuwara Eliya. He had also married a fellow-missionary in the Salvation Army who was pursuing her commitment in India, one Miss Weerasooria from Dodanduwa …and together sired a talented lineage.
Photograph on display at the Paynter Home of the Paynter family. David Paynter stands at the centre, behind his mother Agnes
Yiswaree Palnasamy in Malay Mail, 12 October 2021, where the title reads thus “Hishammuddin: Aukus can potentially disrupt South-east Asian peace; Malaysia won’t stand by”
Malaysia has made it clear to Australia that it won’t stand for any external threat to the peace and stability in South-east Asia, Parliament was told today.Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the federal government’s position has been very clear and consistent regarding the three-way security pact Australia has with the United States and the United Kingdom in the Indoe-Pacific region, better known as Aukus. “The latest stance of the Malaysian government on Aukus remains consistent with the stance affirmed by the prime minister, that the formation of Aukus raises concerns as it has the potential to disrupt peace and stability in Southeast Asia.
KUALA LUMPUR, 5 Okt — Menteri Kanan Pertahanan yang juga Ahli Parlimen Sembrong Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein ketika Mesyuarat Khas Penggal Ketiga Parlimen Ke-14 di Parlimen hari ini.?–fotoBERNAMA (2021) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.