Category Archives: population

Galle Fort built on the Backs of African Slave Labour

Jeevan Thiagarajah in Daily News, 25 March 2019with this title“Slaves built Galle Fort” … …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

The topic of the piece today was triggered by a conversation with the current High Commissioner in Colombo from South Africa, Ruby Marks, who has also posted on her Facebook page this passage, “Calvin Gilfillan, Head of Die Kasteel, affirmed what we suspected-the Dutch conceptualized and supervised, but it was the labour of an estimated 15,000 Africans brought from Portuguese and Dutch colonies, that did the back breaking work of actually building the Fort and the other ones scattered across Sri Lanka. I was shocked by how little was known in Sri Lanka about this. I visited the cramped quarters where the slaves were kept, the dungeons where they were imprisoned, and the cemetery-now a car park where they were buried. And my heart wept.

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Under Scrutiny: Edmund Leach’s PUL ELIYA

Michael Roberts

In late 1965 I set out on an oral history exercise interviewing retired British public servants[1] about their experiences in Ceylon. This work has been clarified earlier in two Thuppahi Items.[2] Because of my strong interest in colonial agrarian policies, I was familiar with the books produced by two outstanding Cambridge University scholars: BH Farmer and Edmund Leach. Farmer’s book on Pioneer Peasant Colonization in Ceylon (1957) reviewed British efforts to develop the dry zone of Sri Lanka via irrigation projects emulating the captivating efforts in ancient times. As such, it focused on DS Senanayake’s inspirational role in this set of enterprises. Leach’s detailed ethnographic experiences in a village arena in Anuradhapura District provided detailed ground-level data and interpretations in this field.

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From Facing Elara to Vanquishing the Tamil Tigers at Nandikadal

Lynn Ockersz, in The Island. reviewing Siriweera’s Sinhala book Vijithapura Sita Nandikadal Thek Sri Lankeya Sangrama Ithihasaya’  ….

This book by one of Sri Lanka’s most eminent historians, Senior Professor Indrakeerthi Siriweera, gets into the hands of the public at a time when there is an urgent need for a clear, concise, and above all, enlightened understanding of Sri Lanka’s wars and their underlying causes. From Sri Lanka’s wars of antiquity, including the legendary Vijithapura armed conflict, to the contemporary landmark and decisive battle on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon in northern Sri Lanka in May 2009, ‘Vijithapura Sita Nandikadal Thek Sri Lankeya Sangrama Ithihasaya’  provides us a detailed chronicling of Sri Lanka’s major armed conflicts and confrontations over the centuries and thereby proves a treasury of knowledge.

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Outdated Colonial Political Demarcations are No Foundation for Governance

Gerald H. Peiris, in The Island, 16 & 17 December 2020, where the title runs thus: “Province-based Devolution in Sri Lanka: a Critique”  …. https://island.lk/province-based-devolution-in-sri-lanka-a-critique-2/

  1. Preamble:  This article is prompted by the recent announcement that the Cabinet will soon consider a proposal to conduct Provincial Council (PC) elections without delay. The article is intended to urge that the PC system should be abolished and replaced by constitutional devices to ensure: (a) genuine sharing of political power among all primordial, áscriptive and associational groups that constitute the nation of Sri Lanka; and (b) the statutory protection of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity which the PC system, as long as it is permitted to last, will remain in dire peril. The article is also intended to stimulate the memory of those who appear to have forgotten the circumstances that culminated in the enactment of legislation in 1987 to establish PCs. There appears to prevail a measure of complacency among some of our present political stalwarts based on the notion that, with their two-thirds majority in parliament, and with the 20th Amendment in place, they ought to let the status quo remain intact. This, I think, is quite silly. Apart from the fact that landslide electoral victories tend often to be  brittle, those who were in the forefront of empowering the present regime are already reacting with dismay to the decision to re-establish the PCs.

John D’Oyly negotiating with Kandyan chiefs

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Galle: Basic Facts ….. Historical, General and Pacha

Ruhunu Putra, in THE ISLAND, 2o  November 2020, where the title is “Historical Glance at Galle”

Galle is the capital of the Southern Province. The popular derivation of its name is from the Sinhala word Gaala – a cattle pen. The mighty king Ravana’s cattle pen had extended from the present day Mahapola premises to the Town Hall, according to legend.  Galle is also considered to be the Tarshish in the Bible. It is reputed for cottage-crafts, lace making, tortoise shell work, gem polishing, ivory carving, jewellery and ornamental ebony elephants.

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WHO’s Mike Ryan slashes World Leaders

Ronan McGreevey, in Irish Times, November 2020, .https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/covid-19-world-in-for-a-hell-of-a-ride-in-coming-months-dr-mike-ryan-says-1.4370626

Covid-19: World in ‘for a hell of a ride’ in coming months, Dr Mike Ryan says …  WHO official estimates that 750m people globally have likely had coronavirus to date

An estimated 750 million, or 10 per cent of the world’s population, have been infected by Covid-19, World Health Organisation (WHO) official Dr Mike Ryan has said. The Irish-born executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme said he was worried for the fate of the 90 per cent of people who have not had the disease.

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The Eastern Regions of Sri Lanka in British Times

Michael Roberts

My D. Phil dissertation at Oxford in the early 1960s centred on British agrarian policy in the mid-nineteenth century and therefore included the British efforts to revive the tank irrigation systems of the Sinhala past. Several British colonial personnel as well as visiting dignitaries were captivated by the ruins of the Anuradhapura/Polonnaruwa periods which they observed during adventure trips. A few saw it as a challenge for their imperial capacity. Some British governors, notably Ward, Gregory and Gordon, took up the prospect.

 Sir Henry Ward and SJV Chelvanyakam

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The Insidious and False Dimensions of the “Traditional Homeland” Thesis

Gerald Peiris 

The concept of the ‘Traditional Tamil Homeland’ as promulgated by its exponents is based on the notion that, from the distant past, the island of Sri Lanka comprised the territories of two distinct nationalities that were arbitrarily unified in the formation of British Ceylon in the early 19th century.  My survey, which draws from several authoritative writings, some of which have been authored by reputed Tamil scholars, shows that such a notion does not conform to known facts and unbiased interpretations of the country’s history.

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Galle Fort: Demography, 2018

The Population of Galle Fort in 2018

Muslims                    561

Sinhalas                     432

Tamils                          14

Malays                         02

Burghers                     02

Foreigners                  60 …… Total 1071        

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Portuguese Colombo in 1662 via the Sketches of Esaias Bourse

Chryshane Mendis, in The HistoryFreek, 4 May 2020, where the title reads “Colombo in Transition 1662: Through the Eyes of Artist Esaias Boursse

This short essay serves as an introduction to a rare collection of sketches of Colombo and its environs in the year 1662.

Sinhalese soldier and labourer

Esaias Boursse was a servant of the VOC who made over hundred sketches of daily life in Colombo, mainly focused on the People and the work they were engaged in. This collection is called the “Tijkenboeck” and is held by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This album containing 116 sheets of drawings came into the possession of the Rijksmuseum in 1996. Its value outweighs the poor quality of some of the drawings in that it captures scenes from within a city which was being transformed from its Portuguese outlook to the Dutch; thus some scenes depict street views of Portuguese Colombo- a phenomena never before captured in drawing except for textual descriptions.

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