Adilah Ismail in the Sunday Times, 7 June 2015, where the title is “Colourful history of a historian” … with highlighting imposed by the Editor Thuppahi viz, Roberts himself
Looking back on his ‘going-down memory lane interviews’ with retired Britishers and Sri Lankans who served mainly in the Ceylon Civil Service, Michael Roberts who was in Sri Lanka recently, talks to Adilah Ismail about the beginnings of a passion.
In Colombo last week: Michael Roberts. Pic by M.A. Pushpa Kumara
It’s the late 1960s: On most Fridays, Michael Roberts would make his way towards Colombo from Peradeniya,  recording equipment balanced at his feet and his bag filled with assorted clothes strapped to the back of his trusty scooter. Navigating the sharp curves and turns on his two wheeler, once in Colombo, he would spend his weekend sprinting from one interview to another.
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Sumanasiri Liyanage, in Colombo Telegraph, 21 January 2022…. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
At my age an uninterrupted sleep is a luxury. My prostate wakes me up at least two to three time. Hence, it is hard to distinguish dreams from imaginations. It was almost 1 am, I just finished my first lap of deep sleep when I heard knocking at my front door. “Who the hell at this time of the hour” I came out of the bed grumbling. I opened the door and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Dr NM Perera. “Comrade, at this time of the day” Astonished I asked even not inviting him to come in.
“May I come in” he asked, “it’s a bit chilly outside”. “Please do comrade and take a sit”. “May I make a cup of tea for you.” Having felt guilty, I asked apologetically. “Yes, it would be nice to have a hot cup of tea in a chilly morning like this. But no sugar. We must leave sugar only for kids.” He said making his beautiful laugh. I prepared him a mug of tea with no sugar but with Highland fresh milk.
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Michael Roberts, presenting his review article on the study of the abortive 1962 coup plot by elements in the Sri Lanka officer corps by Donald Horowitz: namely, Coup Theories and Officers’ Motives. Sri Lanka in Comparative Perspective, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. This essay was entitled “Brown Sahibs in Universal Suits” and went through a refereeing process and appeared in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 1983 vol 6, pp. 62-77 …………… while the pdf version was converted/retyped for me by Nadeeka Pathuwaaratchchi in the Colombo metropolitan area.
The year 1956 is rightly regarded as a major junction in Sri Lankan history. At the general elections that year, a coalition of parties known as the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), in which the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was the major partner, achieved a landslide victory. This victory marked a populist upsurge of the vernacular educated and under-privileged mass of the population against the privileged few- a minority which was regarded as being both Westernised and conservative. In particular, the SLFP saw itself as the vanguard and instrument’ of “the common people of [the] country, the rural people” – that is to say, the rural Buddhist Sinhalese-speakıng masses. Interlaced with this movement against privilege was a virulent expression of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. Its demand for a rapid switchover to Sinhala as the language of administration was at once a symbolic statement and an instrumental blow against the old structures of discrimination.
Mrs B and Felix Dias Bandaranaike
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