Category Archives: transport and communications

The SBS: Marine Commandos of the Sri Lankan Navy

Michael Roberts

A recent article by Dishan Joseph (see below) has marked the role of a commando outfit known as the SBS, or Special Boat Service, that was developed within the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) during the Eelam Wars.  The story is complex and demands an elaborate ‘companion piece’ that is attentive to time, combat locations, initiatives and the lessons derived from a remarkable and formidable enemy, namely, the Sea Tigers. In war one becomes like one’s opponent in order to survive. The innovativeness of the LTTE was monumental and its sea-faring capacities were one reason why it outdid-and-outbid the other Tamil militant organisations in the fight to lead the claim for independence for Thamililam during the 1980s/1990s.

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KD Paranavitana’s Felicitation Volume: A Treasure Trove

 

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Historical Revaluations: The Boundary Books of the Matale District

Gananath Obeyesekere: Historical Revaluations: the Boundary Books of the Matale district[1], being  Chapter 19 in Professor KD Paranavitana Felicitation Volume, edited by Vinie Vitharana & Prasad Fonseka, Colombo, Godage & Bros (pvt ltd) …. ISBN 978-955-30-9035-5

Professor K. D. Paranavitana has not only written important work on t, edit by Vinnie Vitharane Dutch Period in Sri Lanka that has influenced my own writing but he also has been also associated with the National Archives. These archives as well as those in Europe, such as the British Library are replete with popular Sinhala texts that constitute an enormous resource for understanding the pasts of our nation. The term vitti pot or “books of events” is a useful term to broadly characterize this genre of literature.  Among these vitti pot are various boundary books (kaḍaim pot), some dealing with the boundaries of the nation, some with specific regions and some on family genealogies (banḍāravaliya).

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A Restrained but Reconciliatory Feast at St. Anthony’s in Kachchativu in 2021

 

The Jaffna Divisional Secretary informed the public, well in advance, that St. Anthony’s Feast in the Kachchativu island had been cancelled this year due to the Covid- 19 pandemic. The decision was well understood by devotees of both Sri Lanka and India.

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Boom! 3rd May 1986: Air Lanka’s Tristar 36 blown up on Runway by LTTE

Menaka Ashi Fernando, whose chosen title is “The Deadly Flyaway Kit: Explosion in AirLanka Tristar, Part 1 –The Explosion and Its Immediate Effects”

Johann Chunchee

Every 3rd of May, for the past 34 years, like a bunch of anxious surfers, we catch the rising wave of grief, glide on the intensifying emotions for a while and fall back to our senses as the wave of reality breaks. Although words can never remove the ache, I have worded this in memory of our dear friend Johann Chunchee who was killed that fateful day, and in honour of all my colleagues and other Air Lanka staff who survived the carnage” 

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Mirigama Expressway Soon Operational

Dinitha Rathnayake, in MorningLK, 25 March 2021, ….

The Mirigama-Kurunegala section of the Central Expressway (E04) is to be opened in May, making it possible to travel the approximately 39.7 km distance between the two points “within 25 minutes”. Mirigama is a town in the Gampaha District.

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Landscapes: From Arippu to Jaffna

Sent by Lalin Fernando in Colombo who received the ‘lot’ from A Friend in London; while another Friend in Colombo added this NOTE:

“As usual, the places of interest along the north west coastline, Jaffna (and surrounds) are so varied, the social ‘weave’ so interesting. Each unique element holds their own depth of history. It is impossible to encapsulate even a quarter of that depth and complexity in a short series of images.

I was compelled to attach a page on the bird life – to omit that would have been to leave out some wonderful sights at a beautiful time of the year.

I trust your contacts will enjoy the images and bring back some pleasant memories.”

Pix by Ian Lockwood

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African Diaspora across the Indian Ocean: The SIDI Project:

VISIT https://thesidiproject.com/

At Sidi men play drums at t heir communities’annual Urs celebration – Photo copyright by Luke Duggleby for Sidi Project

Few need introductions to the Western movement of slaves from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean. Much has been documented and studied about this horrific part of history. But this wasn’t the only slave route that existed; a far older eastern movement of slaves was forcibly taking people to the opposite side of the world. Between the first and 20th century, beginning with Arabs and the Ottomans, and later continued by the Portuguese, the Dutch, French and the British, an estimated 4 million Africans were taken from their homes, mostly in East Africa, and across the Indian Ocean.

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The Sri Lankan Kaffrinha as Embodiment of African-Asian Hybridity

Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, providing an Abstract of her article  Africa in South Asia: Hybridity in Sri Lankan Kaffrinha”

As public spaces become arenas to display cultural memories, Afro-descendants in South Asia become more visible. Emerging local histories further complement the trajectories of Africans and facilitate recognition of Afro-descendants.  In my paper “Africa in South Asia: hybridity in Sri Lankan Kaffrinha” published in South Asian History and Culture (2020).  I explore connections between Africa and Asia through a genre of music and dance called kaffrinha which enriched the colonial Sri Lankan culturescape and, continues in the postcolonial. In the absence of historical records of kaffrinha for centuries, I have explored alternative narratives – song texts, music scores, dance movements, paintings and frescoes in order to map the dynamics of kaffrinha.

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Remembering Indian Ocean Slavery through Film: Afro-Sri Lankan Memories

Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya

Whilst the transatlantic slave trade has overwhelmed the historiography of Africa, the forced easterly movement of Africans is only receiving scholarly attention in the twenty first century.  Movement of Africans from the Continent is not characterised by the slave trade alone.  Not surprisingly, free Africans moved eastwards as missionaries, soldiers, sailors and traders.  Forced migration was concurrent with free migration.

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