Colombo Telegraph

Hamber Dates: A Racial Slur Now Has A Price Tag In Sri Lanka During Ramadan

At least thanks to Cargills, ingrained racism in Sri Lanka now has a price tag. 1kg of ‘Hamber’ dates costs Rs. 547. Surely, the ‘lowest price’ for the defamation of a community, ‘on your way home’, writes the Groundivews.

We were surprised to see, especially during Ramadan, ‘Humber’ dates for sale at Cargills Food City, which on the bill of sale comes up as ‘Hamber’ dates. We are told these dates are on sale at a number of Cargills Food City supermarkets across Colombo, and bought ours at the outlet down Duplication Road, the Groundviews said. The term hambaya and its variant hamba, in Sinhalese, is a well-known and highly derogatory term referring to Muslims

The word ‘Hamba’ or ‘හම්බ’ certainly smacks of a racist slur. It’s been used enough of times in recent hate campaigns by the Bodu Bala Sena and affiliated groups to bring it permanently out of the rather murky folds of history it had retreated to, giving way to the more civilized slur (if such a thing exists) ‘Thambiya’ , writes Abdul Halik .

“For one thing the spellings, ‘Humber’ smacks more of an English Lord than a coastal Moor. The ‘er’ at the end brings it. A packager’s attempt at adding some refinement to the brand perhaps? completely failing due to a lack of cultural awareness or utter ignorance? Or a sinister attempt at a subtle disguise and fallback? And Cargills hedging and dodging the matter could be a simple case of PR paralysis. Sri Lanka isn’t alien to those,” Abdul Halik wrote in his Blog Going Global .

When the called the Cargills seeking a clarification for the usage of the word ‘Humber’, but no clear answer was given. Listen here.

In the video below you can hear a Buddhist monk was making racist remarks against Muslims and Tamils. The Buddhist monk who threatened police officers and used ‘Sudda Sinhala filth’ including the word ‘Hambaya’ . The monk was identified as Kirulapona Nanda.


Photo courtesy Groundviews.

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