Category Archives: patriotism

The Skeins of Class bearing on the Threads of Sinhala Cultural Revival under the British

Uditha Devapriya, in The Island, 24 July 2021, where the title reads “Colonial Bourgeoisie and Sinhala Cultural Revival”

The colonial bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka did not form a monolithic class. They were divided horizontally as well as vertically: horizontally on the basis of income and inheritance, and vertically on the basis of primordial attachments, such as caste ideology. Various factors, mainly economic, conspired as much to unify the bourgeoisie as they did to divide them, distinguishing them by their homogeneity as much as by their heterogeneity.

Panadura Vaadaya

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Ethnicity after Edward Said: Post-Orientalist Failures in Comprehending the Kandyan Period of Lankan history

Michael Roberts ... presenting a refereed journal article from the year 2001** as a foundation for reflection and fresh pursuits because it addresses the work of Edward Said, a renowned social theorist-cum-political scientist.

Edward Said  Leslie Gunawardena

Abstract: Disenchantment with the excesses of nationalist and ethnic claims in recent decades has directed the analysis of ethnicity presented in academic writings in recent decades.  Ethnicity is seen as pernicious, “primordialist” and “essentialist.”  Other scholars as well as nationalist spokespersons are castigated for reading the present into the past.  This line of criticism has entered the scholarship on the Indian subcontinent and been extended to surveys of the literature on the pre-British and British periods of Sri Lankan history.   Yet these critics themselves are governed by the either/or epistemology of 20th century rationalism.  They are unable to decipher the worldview and the political ideology that organised the socio-political order of the Kingdom of Sihale, better known as the Kingdom of Kandy.  Their bias is “presentist” and “modernist.”  With little patience for historical puzzles, their readings of the pre-British period are simple-mindedFor the most part they rely on the severely flawed interpretation presented in Leslie Gunawardana’s “People of the Lion.”  This dependence marks their ignorance.

** presented in Ethnic Studies Report, Vol XIX/1, 2001 … ICES and kindly supplied by Iranga Silva

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Columbathurai School for Disadvantaged Tamil Children

A THANK YOU NOTE addressed to MOHAN SAMARASINHE, 27 July 2021

Dear Respected Sir

I would like to extend my sincere thanks for coming forward to establish a Pre-school in our place and begin for the poor and needy. I highly appreciate your great service towards our people especially it is how important to see that a Sinhala  person has come forward to help Tamil  who have suffered so much since 1983. Even though we tried to get help from many people they didnt give us proper reply. Then only I requested Mr.Mohan Samarasingha. You accepted our request without any hesitation to support us to begin the school succesfully. You have already given nearly four hundred thousand rupees to renovate the building. Now the building has come up  yet we have to do little work to finish. So we hope to receive  your support in future too. Once again I extend my sincere thanks to your love and grate service towards us.

Thank you
Amitha
Colombuthurai
Jaffna.

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Outback Magic: Indigenous Music Traversing Boundaries

Music Outback Foundation had its beginnings in late 2001 when Founding Director Steve Berry took an opportunity to conduct a week long music workshop at M’bunghara, a small Indigenous community in remote Central Australia.

Steve’s time there left him inspired to return to the Northern Territory and pursue the possibility of providing regular music education opportunities to remote Indigenous schools.   In September 2002 he visited four more schools conducting workshops at each location, and the success of these visits resulted in an invitation to expand the developing program to 12 remote schools in Central Australia.

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Duncan White: Trinitian, Hurdler and Trailblazer for Ceylon

KLF Wijedasa**

During this Olympic year it is pertinent to remember one of our country’s greatest athletes Major Duncan White on his 23rd death anniversary (July 3). On his way to success, he had to glide over 10 barriers and not break them!

14th August 1948: Duncan White of Ceylon fixes his starting blocks to the track at the 1948 London Olympics. Original Publication: Picture Post – 4582 – Fastest Men On Earth – pub. 1948 (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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In Appreciation of Brendon Gooneratne

Hugh Karunanayake: “OBITUARY: Dr, Brendon Gooneratne, 28 March 1938-22 June 2021)”

Dr Brendon Gooneratne, an acclaimed physician, entrepreneur,  author, antiquarian, collector, environmentalist and all round sportsman, passed away in Welimada where he was receiving treatment after a fall. The news of Brendon’s demise was communicated by his daughter Devika just a day following his death.

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The Old and Sturdy Dutch Fort in Galle

“Everyman” writing for The World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka, with this title “The Old Dutch Town of Galle” 
  Cricket in the 1980s –Pix by Nihal Fernando
Volleyball, it is claimed, is our national sport. However there is no doubt that Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. That popular West Indies calypso ‘Cricket, lovely cricket.’,’ will always be ringing in our ears. From the villages where youngsters from around 16 to 26 or maybe even older, use ‘polpithi’ bats, to the towns where more sophisticated young men use willow bats, it is cricket, cricket and more cricket. Little wonder then that we have been correctly described as ‘ a cricket crazy nation.’ And when it comes to grounds for international matches the Galle International Stadium is the most favored by our cricketers, our coaches and our spectators. The reason is that as at today (03. 05 .21), 34 Test Matches [have been] played on these grounds of which Sri Lanka won 19 and lost only eight. In addition to this, in a press release datelined June 8, 2020, Yash Mittal an avid lover of cricket has listed five of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. And yes – you have guessed it – the Galle cricket grounds, cradled between the Galle Fort and the Indian Ocean, heads the list!

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Lionel Rose: Aboriginal Boxer who united Australia

Will Swanton, in The Weekend Australian, 3-4 July 2021, where the title runs “Lionel Rose: battler who united Australia” 

Lionel Rose unified the nation more powerfully than Bradman, if more briefly — Bradman never had 250,000 cheering him through the streets.

Lionel Rose turns to embrace Fighting Harada … after he is pronounced the winner 

Lionel Rose met Paul Keating. Snipped him for a hundred. The Prime Minister reckoned he never carried any cash. Rose persisted. Did him slowly. Come on, mate. Can’t you spare a lousy hundred for a battler? Larrikinism abounded in Australia’s sporting stars of the 1960s and 1970s. Rose, Dawn Fraser, John Newcombe, larger than-life characters. It was the 1990s by the time Rose hit Keating where it hurt. The hip-pocket. Mischievousness was alive and kicking in Rose, and part of the reason for the request, but he needed the dough, too.

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Dr Brendon Gooneratne: Versatile Talents …. Underlined from Outside His House and from Deep Within

A Note from Michael Roberts, July 2021

I first encountered Brendon Gooneratne as a formidable fast bowler playing for the Colombo branch of the University of Ceylon against against my Peradeniya branch around 1959/60, mainly as a pace bowler. Thereafter, I encountered him briefly as he courted Yasmine Dias Bandaranaike, a colleague in the Arts Faculty at Peradeniya …. and then  for a month or so when the married couple were neighbours of my household at Augusta Hill in Peradeniya University in late 1971. We have met subsequently on and off in Colombo and Sydney because of our strong interest in Ceyloniana.

  A reproduction of a framed photo of Brendon at Mount Kosciusko taken by his wife Yasmine

Meeting and listening to Yasmine at the Galle Literary Festival in 2008 was a great pleasure. Her ‘imprint’ has been captured for one and all in an essay I presented then as “January 2008 – When all roads led to Galle” [web-location lost].

Their continued ‘investments’ in the island were deepened by the residences which this couple invested in within the city of Colombo and as “Pemberton” (a conversion of a planting bungalow named ‘Pemberton’) in the upcountry terrain of Uva. So, Brendon’s ‘departure’ from our life-world is a loss of some magnitude. I mark it here in Thuppahi with (A) the mundane account in Wikipedia and (B) a moving testimony from his daughter Devika Gooneratne, …. a farewell that is as remarkable as it is worthy as epitaph — not least for its grounded assessment of the medical staff in Badulla area upcountry in ways that speak volumes for the personnel and system. 

So, this Note is a “Hurrah” for Brendon and “Three Cheers” for Devika and her mother.

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Origins of Sri Lankan Nationalism

Upali C Wickremeratne, presenting a critical review of  Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period: 1590s to 1815, by Michael Roberts, (Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2003)…. originally presented in Ethnic Studies Review, vol. XXI,  No. 2, July 2003, pp. 207-20…. with pictorials imposed by Roberts against the grain of this article. NOTE: the title is that chosen by Wickremeratne … and is in fact a misnomer.

It is hard to think of a book, amongst those written by those affecting to be scholarly, which is based more on conjecture than this. The criteria for evidence should be considered. It is not a question of whether the sources are oral or documentary.  After all the evidence in a law court is mainly oral.  It is a question of considering the arguments for and against any particular point of view.  It is a question of weighing the evidence. A civil case is decided on a balance of probabilities and a criminal case on whether there is a reasonable doubt.  It is not a question of facts or the truth. Law draws a distinction between hearsay, opinion and evidence based on cross-examination.  Collingwood wanted an army of questions led into the sources. They would enable one’s own biases and predilections to be questioned.  It would supply the place of cross-examination.

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