Senaka Weeraratna … See Note ** at end
The primordial national identity of this country is Sinhale and religious identity is Buddhist. These two historical identities should not be allowed to be dispensed with in order to embrace an artificial secular identity (Sri Lankan) that has neither roots to the soil of the country nor been shaped either by history, common values, heritage or destiny.
One way of ensuring that the primordial national identity of the Sinhalese people continues is to identify oneself in any form or NIC or Passport as follows: “Sri Lankan (Sinhala)
No one should be allowed to object to that since the country was called Sinhale (or Sinhaladweepa) before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505.
Nation building is important not only to Sri Lanka but to all countries that is facing tension due to the entry of waves of immigrants and forced displacement of indigenous people e.g. Kandyan peasantry, by the colonial powers to achieve economic goals.
The autochthonous people that built this unique Buddhist civilization in an island territory that was called ‘ Sinhale’ for over two thousand years until that name was bastardized or corrupted ( to be known as ‘Ceylon’ ) with the entry of the Portuguese in 1505, cannot be placed on the same footing as latter day arrivals in terms of allocation of credit for contribution to the making of a nation.
That would be tantamount to a great injustice.Through misrepresentation and distortion of history to solve a so called ethnic problem Sinhala Buddhists are now being called to make sacrifices to accommodate others that no other country in the world so far has done or would do.
Look at the examples of Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand – what have they done to accommodate minorities?
Do any of these countries have national anthems sung in two languages?
Donald Trump in his inaugural address placed an emphasis on Patriotism. He called for a National Day of Patriotism. To remember those who fought to keep the country intact and protect national values.
In Sri Lanka we have not only failed to remember them but are now in the process of erasing these names from school text books more or less in line with the command given by the Belgian King Leopold.
Writing to Colonial Missionaries in 1883, King Leopold II of Belgium declared “teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours”.
“Christian norms of forgive and forget cannot be allowed to erase a country’s history and replace it with a new narrative by people working to agendas. A country’s history, is a country’s history. Just because elements of that history are unsavoury to some it cannot be erased and replaced with what is palatable to only a few”.
In the 23 years (1885-1908) Leopold II ruled the Congo he massacred 10 million Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals, flogging them to death, starving them into forced labour, holding children ransom and burning villages while not even setting a foot in Congo. http://www.digitaljournal.com/blog/11297
In 1883 King Leopold II better known as the Butcher of Congo wrote to the Colonial Missionaries. These were his orders
- “the task that is given to fulfil is very delicate and requires much tact”
- *your evangelization must inspire ….Beligium interests’
- *your principle objective …in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God”
- “your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering and encouraging your followers to love poverty” – happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven.
- “your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they wont revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parents’ teachings.”
- “teach students to read and not to reason”
- “evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists’
- “convert the blacks by using the whip. Keep their women in nine months of submission to work freely for us”
- “make sure that niggers never become rich” sing every day that it is impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday mass.
- “teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours”
“All missionaries carried out and continue to carry this mandate. The role has been transferred to local priests, bishops, Cardinals, Born-agains who are ever ready to demonize native deities and history and promote foreign interests only”.
The forging of a modern day national identity i.e. Sri Lankan, should not be at the expense of discarding altogether the primordial national identity i.e. Sinhala.
We are not prepared to erase our Sinhala identity to solve a problem created by foreigners and their local fellow travellers who have sinister designs to divide and rule this country like in the dark past when the country was ruled by the fiat of European colonialism (1505-1948).
** A NOTE by Editor, Thuppahi
This essay was sent directly to my email address by Senaka Weeraratna as a protest against my advocacy of orchestrated deployment of the national anthem in two languages as long-term project to instill a multi-ethnic concept of “Sri Lankan” that embraces other loyalties within its confederative sentiments. I have met Weeraratna in regard to cricketing issues. Weeraratne’s father and family had a prominent jewelery business and have been central forces in the outreach activities of the German Dharmadutha Society. Senaka is a product of Royal College and is also a vigorous advocate of the missionary and political endeavours of Anagarika Dharmapala. His response to my suggestions are therefore in step with the thinking of Dharmapala who equated the majoritarian “Sinhala” concept with the concept “Ceylon.” ** He is a contemporary activist and appeared before before the LLRC on 13th January 2011: this public presentation can be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxbk4wYolphwZTRmNGM3ZDYtZTg3Zi00ODNlLTkyZDUtZDgwYWViYjkyZWNk/view
For the moment, I will not say more about the content of Weeraratna’s protest – including his selective and bizarre tour of world history, but let me stress that the national anthem is sung in several tongues in South Africa and New Zealand and, as I suspect, in several other countries.
Weeraratna’s position statement is an important document and I encourage commentary within this site or through essays sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
** NOTE on this topic please spend time reading the following essays from my pen:
Roberts 1978 ‘Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka and Sinhalese Perspectives: Barriers to Accommodation,’ Modern Asian Studies, 12: 353-76.
Roberts 2009a “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” Frontline, 19 June 2009, 26: 24-27.
Roberts 2009b ‘Sinhala Mindset,’ 9 Dec. 2009, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/the-sinhala-mind-set/.
Roberts 2012 ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa: Cakravarti Imagery and Populist Processes,’ 28 January 2012, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/mahinda-rajapaksa-cakravarti-imagery-and-populist-processes/
Roberts 2014 “Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation,” 13 May 2014, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ideological-cancers-within-the-sinhala-universe/
Roberts 2013 “Sinhalaness and Its reproduction, 1232-1818,” in Asanga Welikala (ed.) The Republic at Forty, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-sri-lankan-republic-at-40-reflections-on-constitutional-history-theory-and-practice/