Michael Roberts, reproducing here an old draft that is entitled “Becoming Sinhala” ***
The scene is somewhere early in 1984 and the location is the building housing the Social Scientists’ Association on the road to Nawala off Narahenpitiya in Colombo. The late Charlie Abeysekera and the late Newton Gunasinghe are reflecting gloomily on the pogrom of July 1983 that had victimised Tamils living in the capital and elsewhere in the south. Charlie is one of the founder members of MERGE and both are among the few personnel in Colombo who had taken an active stand in public forums against the atrocities that had occurred.* Now, in the gathering dusk, Charlie looks at Newton and asks: “what makes you think that you are a Sinhalese?” Newton immediately grasps the serious import and analytical purpose behind this question. He considers the issue gravely before venturing upon an answer.
Two foreign personnel, one a British man and the other a Taiwanese Chinese lady, have developed a deep interest in Sri Lanka and a considerable äcquaintance”, so to speak. with the land and its peAnswer: perhaps Sigiriya?oples, and have recently sent me these fascinating inquiries on arcane topics.Michael Roberts
ONE: A NOTE from Lewis Bower [i], late February 2021
Have you heard the term “Argyra”before? It was mentioned in Stephanus of Byzantium’s contribution to the geographical dictionary Ethnica to describe a “thriving metropolis” that he came across on his travels of Sri Lanka… Typing that made me feel like I’m on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.
We’re talking 5th/6th Century ADso I’d be really interested to find out where he was talking about,”
Writing in the Daily Newsin March 2019 and deploying the affirmation of a South African diplomat, Jeevan Thiagarajah has lamented the alleged fact that the VOC Black African used slave labourto build the imposing Fort of Galle – even asserting that “an estimated 15,000 Africans brought from Portuguese and Dutch colonies” worked on this project. Thiagarajah is a political scientist and not a historian. His essay is clearly riding on the back of the movement “Black Lives Matter.” But in this populist move to earn kudos (as I speculate), he displays abysmal historical background and has failed to consult the many personnel next door to him in Colombo who would have served up solid data on the topic – notably Ashley De Vos (who has subsequently, albeit briefly, questioned Jeevan’s claim).
Elmo Jayawardena … [an article presented originally in the Daily News, circa 1992, I gather …. and now appearing again from the clouds — Editor, Thuppahi]
The SIA jumbo turned for the final approach on Plaisance International Airport. The night was cloudy and listless, the sky was demanding with a stratocumulus overcast. There was moderate rain over the airfield. My copilot who was flying the aeroplane was an experienced operator and he landed the big Boeing 747 with professional skill that received applause from the passengers. We taxied and parked in front of the terminal. It was almost midnight; I’ve arrived in the island of Mauritius, not merely as a pilot but to start another one of my wild goose chases.
This one was a peach. I was going to look for Ehelepola’s grave. The first Prime Minister of the last King of Kandy, who I read somewhere, was buried in the island of Mauritius.
Sinhala people and Adigar Pilima Talauwwe —illustrations adopted from Roberts: Sinhala Consciousness — in order to provide a suitable historical ambience for this essay
Uditha Devapriya reviewing The Many Faces of the Kandyan Kingdom(1591-1765) by Gananath Obeyesekere …. printed by Perera-Hussein, 2020, [200 pp., Rs. 1,200] …. with his chosen title being “All kings and all things Kandyan“
Facets of Modern Ceylon History through the Letters of Jeronis Pieris … originally published in 1976 by Hansa [on Bandaranaike era paper] and now presented as a coffee table book with a host of striking photographs that recapture the mid-nineteenth century era of capitalist expansion with all its pluses and minuses.
Cost is Rs 6400 via the website www.pererahussein.com using VISA or MASTERCARD. The Registered Airmail postage rate to different countries in the world is calculated automatically by the website and added to the cost of the book. Foreign currency rates will thus be equivalent to the Rupee price but will vary slightly depending on the daily Forex rate. Foreign currency rates will thus be equivalent to the Rupee price but will vary slightly depending on the daily Forex rate.
ISBN = 978-955-1723-49-1 .…………….The book is available at : Barefoot, Cargills book city, Sarasavi, Vijitha Yapa, JamFruitTree, Kalaya, Pendi and Urban Island.
Abstract: Robert Knox’s An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon was produced, published and enlarged through the collaboration of the author with scholars including Robert Hooke and financial support from members of the East India Company. The Relationshould be seen in the context of a number of texts collected, translated or commissioned by the East India Company in cooperation with the Royal Society during the late seventeenth century that informed and shaped both European expansion and natural philosophy. As well as circulating between European intellectual centres, often reorientated in the process of translation, these texts served as practical guides across settlements and trading posts abroad. Comparing written accounts with experience led to annotations and borrowings that served as the basis for further writings. Company records and Knox’s own unpublished works reveal how the Relation was used as the basis for bio-prospecting for naturally occurring drugs and food sources and in efforts at agricultural transplantation spanning the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Through the reports of seamen like Knox, such experiments contributed to contemporary theories concerning the effects of latitude on plant life.
Asanga Welikala edited an important book entitled The Republic at Forty in 2012 in which I participated (CPA, 2012). Both Welikala and Roshan de Silva-Wijeyeratne have formidable curriculum-vitae behind them. Their recent intervention in criticism of the Rajapaksa state today also happens to rely heavily on SJ Tambiah’s work on the mandala state, a topic which also informed my concept of the “Asokan Persona,” which is developed within four chapters in my book Exploring Confrontation (1994).
Dinasena Rathugamage presented a Photo with this caption in The Island, 27 August 2020: “Last Ruler of theVanni Commemorated “
His account runs thus: “Vavuniya Disgrict secetary SM Saman Bandulasena garalnds the Bandara Vaniyan statue opposite the District Secretatariat on Tuesday to mark the 217 commemoration of Kulasekaram Variamuttu Bandara Vanniyan,also known as Vanni Bandara ,who is considered to be the last ruler of the Vanni befor the Birtish conquered the area. As for the folkloreVanni Bandaa led the Vanni people against the British and was killed in action. Later the Vanni people deified him and he is now consideed one of the regional gods. A large number of politicians, intellectuals and state officials were present on the occasion. “
Kindly supplied by Amila Gamage … and note a previous ‘incarnation’ in the Tamil Guardian, 2018
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.