12 December, 2019

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Thoughts On Decolonising Lanka: From Servility To Dignity 

By Chamindra Weerawardhana

Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana

To mark the seventy-first anniversary of Sri Lanka gaining dominion status. 

One of the most insightful pieces of writing one would read this year is scholar-activist Senel Wanniarachchi’s excellent account of encountering Tara, a Buddhist and Hindu mother goddess of mercy and generous compassion at…the British Museum. Several excerpts of Wanniarachchi’s article are worth quoting at some length, and in this ‘independence month’, these words are absolute food for thought to all Sri Lankans: 

Her [Tara’s] bronze statue plated in gold was stolen from Sri Lanka’s Kandyan Kingdom when the British colonized the island in 1815. Tara’s upper body is completely naked with a sarong draped around her hip concealing her body waist down. Her right hand is in the gesture known as varadamudra – of granting a wish.

At the museum, almost everyone passing by stops to take a look at Tara. A young white couple stands adjacent to me. The young man whispers something in his female companion’s ear. They both giggle. I’m inclined to assume it was a joke laden with some sexual innuendo. Many aren’t aware of Tara’s genealogy or her divinity. Many wouldn’t care. She fulfills an exoticized oriental fantasy. The audio explains that Tara was ‘given’ to Robert Brownrigg, the third Governor of Ceylon (as the British referred to Sri Lanka) who ‘donated’ it to the museum ‘perhaps finding her voluptuous form rather out of place in his English country home’. However, Tara was considered to be too obscene and perverse to be exhibited to the public. Her exposed bronze breasts too big, her waist too narrow and her hips too curvaceous for the respectability of the white gaze. As such, she was locked up in a discreet storeroom, aptly named ‘the Secretum’ for nearly thirty years. The Museum was mandated to create the Secretum, colloquially known as ‘the porn room’, through the 1857 Obscene Publications Act which gave the state power to destroy material it deemed offensive and obscene.

Here was a Sri Lankan mother Goddess worshipped by her devotees, stolen and taken by force to a foreign land where she is treated as some pornographic knick-knack only to be locked up in a storeroom along with phallic antiquities and European erotica that display orgies, bestiality and whatever else was deemed too indignant for the holy white gaze. Only adult white male specialists of ‘mature years and sound morals’ who constituted the very apex of the social hierarchy had access to enter the ‘Secretum’ for their pathologizing intellectual gaze. These scholars probably used Tara to enrich their knowledge system of ‘scientific’ racism that drove colonialism — the libidinous, ‘out of control’ non-humans were vice-indulgent and so were their vain gods. For the natives in the ‘Orient’, she represented mercy and compassion. The brown devotees who wanted to escape the illusion and suffering of the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth of samsara would stare into her bronze eyes and meditate. This would have perplexed the white missionary slave masters for whom she represented a sinful profanity. How could a naked woman be a God? A God so religiously venerated that even the most powerful of men would kneel before her image, join their palms and pray? They were convinced that these queer emasculated leaders weren’t capable of governing their lands and people and as such, colonialism was not only justified but also inevitable.

Colonialism is a destructive and criminal act. It destroys peoples, communities, social, cultural and economic traditions, knowledge systems, protocols and the humanity of peoples of rich heritage. This is the one and only truth. There is no space whatsoever for any counter-argument. Nowhere in the world did colonialism bring anything even remotely positive or beneficial to the colonised peoples. 

A global movement of decolonial thinking, theorising, activism and politics? 

Wanniarachchi’s informative words represent a decolonial text that carries strong echoes with a global movement. It is composed of young activists from the global South/s, from Indigenous communities worldwide, many of them positioned at the multiple intersections of race, non-cisnormativities and/or-non-heteronormativities. His ideas closely align with those of writers such as João Gabriel, a scholar-activist and writer from Guadeloupe whose work, together with that of individuals and collectives such as the Afrofeminist organisation Mwasi Collectif, is among the finest contemporary critical decolonial and intersectional feminist writing in the French language.  This movement unapologetically stands for intersectional feminist and decolonial approaches to all aspects of our lives. The importance of this global movement cannot be summed up in words. The word ‘decolonial’ here implies challenging, un-settling and working towards the dismantling of oppressive systems, and multiple forms of systemic marginalisation, discrimination and erasure, doing so while centring an intersectional understanding of gender justice. Strongly enhanced by the work of Indigenous peoples worldwide in their innumerable struggles to challenge occupation, murder,  gender-based, sexual and many other forms of violence on bodies, knowledges, traditions, lands and resources, and enriched by black feminist and women-of-colour feminist advocacy, decolonial approaches represent the sharpest and most innovative knowledge base and strategy in challenging interconnected forms of patriarchal, colonialist, misogynist, and ethno-racially discriminatory oppressions. 

Today, we live in a world order in which fascism is on the rise. From the unceded Indigenous territories known as Brazil and the USA to many member states of the European Union, discriminatory and cis-heteronormative political discourses are increasingly gaining political traction. In today’s world, no individual, community or country can afford to avoid coming face-to-face with the destructive effects of the rise of fascist politics. 

In this backdrop, the work of young people from the global South/s mobilising for intersectional feminist, decolonial and critical queer politics and public policy is highly significant and essential. 

Jade Almeida, a critical queer decolonial activist from the occupied indigenous island of Guadeloupe, runs a weekly radio commentary on the tio’tia:ke/Montréal-based NéoQuébec radio. Almeida’s cutting-edge commentaries are marked by her razor-sharp analytical skills, where she unpacks coloniality, neo-colonialities, racial oppressions, the multiple forms of discrimination that systemically and systematically target the peoples of the so-called overseas territories colonised by France, and a range of gender justice-specific issues. Almeida recently received a very ‘white’ critique from some listeners, who maintained, [and I kid you not]: 

« Sans la France vous ne parleriez pas français et vous ne serez pas aussi articulée! » [“if not for France you wouldn’t have spoken French and you wouldn’t be so articulate”]

In her first radio programme for 2019, Almeida addresses this remark, highlighting that the fact that her primary language is French is the result of a crime – that of ruthless colonisation. Almeida then articulately explains how atrocious it is to ask people to be grateful for being victims of a long-standing historic crime, the ramifications of which are felt to this very day, and are set to be around for generations to come. 

At more than one occasion, this writer has come across individuals who maintain that colonisation, and the resulting looting of resources, heritages and knowledges, are somehow good things. Some people who hold such views are from marginalised groups, including the LGBT+ community. Some others are academics and educated professionals. This in itself is evidence of how people internalise oppression and fail to see beyond a very narrowly construed worldview through which they are accustomed to seeing the world. This, in fact, is the ultimate achievement of missionary and colonialist education, which was (and is) solely intended at producing ‘good’ [i.e. pathetically servile] subjects, who never dare to question oppressive systems or take a critical stand. They would also work hard to maintain the privileges of the coloniser on our soil, and their positions in a colonialist hierarchy. 

Stand for what is rightfully ours

Tara is our goddess. She belongs in Lanka, and not in the British Museum. To quote the title of an ace book by British novelist and playwright Helen Oyeyemi, “what is not yours is not yours”. Tara’s return to Lanka is an act of natural justice, to which we should in no way be thankful to the British Government. In fact we should also clarify that all the gem stones that decorated her hair, which the British stole, should also be returned, or that due compensation must be paid for, in the form of finances, or on the policy front [e.g. including the easing of immigration restrictions on Sri Lankan citizens]. What we do with her statue, where we place her, is our business. In terms of Sri Lanka’s relations with the United Kingdom, addressing issues of this nature in an upfront, principled, and policy-focused manner can only be mutually beneficial in charting the course of future bilateral relations. 

No belief in ourselves? 

The fact that we have a lousy attitude when it comes to protecting and safeguarding our heritage has a great deal to do with colonial oppression, and the negative mindsets it leaves among colonised peoples. For the colonial enterprise to thrive, for the maintenance of stolen treasure hauls such as  the British museum, it is important to have an ideology that systemically downgrades us, and makes us ‘naturally’ assume that we cannot look after what our ancestors created. This is why some very well-educated and well-travelled Sri Lankans harbour the view that we are a lost cause when it comes to protecting our heritage, our resources, our elephants, and everything else that is ours, or in progressing on any front. The first step in changing things in a positive direction is to challenge this pessimistic and colonially-induced way in which many of us perceive ourselves. 

Coming out of this mentality – in theory and in action – is in fact the biggest and most significant act of “coming out” we are brought to carry out as Sri Lankans. It takes a great deal of commitment, a willingness to ‘un-learn’ assumptions that one upholds dearly, and a preparedness to critically assess where we used to be, what we went through [or were forced to go through], where we are now and where we are [and ought to be] headed. In his article about Tara, Wanniarachchi, a young scholar with very close ties to the United Kingdom, has set an example of how we could go about developing such approaches to ‘un-learning’, the only way forward in truly decolonising our mindsets. A key point to remember is that the problem is not limited to our island alone. It is an endemic challenge that can be observed in all parts of the global South/s. Coming to terms with the inferiority complexes deeply entrenched in the minds of colonised peoples of colour is a highly challenging venture that requires lifetimes, if not generations of work. What we can do today, on a day like the 71st anniversary of dominion status, is to reflect upon the importance of reviewing, challenging and transforming the ways in which we perceive ourselves as a people. 

A servile political class: major challenge? 

When moving ahead along a decolonial ethos, one of the foremost challenges we can observe across the global South/s is the absolute cluelessness of those in positions of leadership. Sri Lanka is a revealing example. The political class continues to operate along a very [neo]colonial paradigm, of benefiting from a superiority complex of having blinded and uncritical followers, and of sustaining their class interests first. The national interest, for its part, is at the receiving end of the most blatant disregard and indifference. The Lankan political class – including the less than handful of somewhat enlightened folk within it – has no understanding whatsoever of critical decolonial and intersectional feminist politics. We do not see any inclination to question existing structures of oppression within and beyond our shores. We have a political class that is happy to continue a system based on mass inequities and injustices, from incarcerating Tamil citizens without trial, inculcating fear psychoses among Tamil people in northern Sri Lanka, not raising a finger about discriminatory laws on reproductive justice, the rights non-heteronormative citizens, and people who are at the intersections of multiple forms of historic and ongoing oppression [the gender politics here are very important; the most pertinent example being plantation workers. The fact that the demand for a 1000 LKR daily wage is one that 98% concerns Malayaga Tamil women is a key reason why the majoritarian-nationalist, racist, patriarchal state and corporate class do not care].

What is happening here is that the political class is following a template that was bequeathed to them by those who preceded them – the colonial masters. Upon being granted ‘independence’ the political classes of the newly independent states ‘had to’ be positioned at a place of inferiority. For the Eurocentric world order to thrive, it was necessary to show that the global South was full of demagogic policy-less, self-serving nonleaders. Whenever leaders with independent and visionary policy agendas emerged, some colonial powers would go to great lengths to eliminate them. The case of the late Captain Thomas Sankara is a revealing example. 

The queer politics

As this article was being written while the 2019 Mumbai Pride was in full swing. It happened to be a very important SOGIESC Pride event, especially in the aftermath of the landmark Indian Supreme Court decision of September 2018, decriminalising non-heteronormative sexualities. The joy and unmistakable sense of hope in the faces of people walking the Mumbai Pride parade and similar events held across India provide a much-needed precedent to other countries and SOGIESC communities in the South Asian region. 

Affirming SOGIESC rights is deeply interconnected to processes of decolonising mindsets, politics and societies. It is a powerful way of recognising, and taking stock of the destructive effects of colonial rule, which imposed social conservatisms on our ancestors at so many levels. Accepting the humanity of non-cisnormative and non-heteronormative citizens involves a process of strongly challenging many aspects of colonial missionary education, binary perspectives on gender/s, and the phallocentric nature of our political machinery. It is also a process that enables citizens to think critically about the gender and sexual politics of governance in relation to the Sri Lankan context. This is where a range of issues of intersectional relevance can be addressed. 

In other words, the objectives of non-cis and non-het Sri Lankans ought to stretch a lot wider than a mere focus on repealing Article 365 of our Penal Code, or of following templates of ‘LGBT+ activism’ coming straight from the West. In the neoliberal political and economic climate we live in, it is indeed organisations that follow a strictly NGO-industrial framework that receive the highest amounts of financial support from donors. In the Sri Lankan context, one can also notice in this sphere of NGO-ised LGBT+ activism a tendency to be pathetically ‘apolitical’. One prominent member of the LGBT+ community, a successful scholar from a Tamil background, was once kicked out of an LGBT+ focused Sri Lankan group on Facebook, because they wrote a post about an issue related to the continuing oppressions experienced by the Tamil peoples of northern Sri Lanka. This is indicative of how some people understand LGBT+ rights activism, as separate from wider socio-political, cultural, economic and other challenges we face as a people. 

However, today’s SOGIESC advocacy in Sri Lanka is marked by the emergence of a critical queer leadership of the left and centre-left, which constructively challenges neoliberal forms of NGO-industrial LGBT+ activism. This critical queer focus is inherently decolonial and intersectional feminist in its orientation. The focus here stretches way beyond the Penal Code or any other legislative provision. While repealing oppressive British laws and campaigning to include a SOGIESC equality clause in our Constitution are priorities, those of us who pursue a critical decolonial and intersectional feminist approach to SOGIESC advocacy have a much bigger, long-term goal – that of inclusive queer liberation, and that of ‘queering’ highly heteronormative [and by definition oppressive] spheres of political power and ‘systems’ in place – i.e. making them inclusive spaces respectful of difference and non-normativities. The problems in the political class mentioned above are best addressed through a locally grounded brand of Sri Lankan queer politics of this nature. 

Hope…

 In sum, what we can be proud of in this 71th anniversary year of dominion status is that new social movements are in the process of changing the face of Sri Lankan political life, one step at a time. Results maybe slow, but we are headed towards progress. Some of these movements are from left and centre/left persuasions, where some of us are involved in grounding a well and truly Sri Lankan understanding of decolonial and intersectional feminist priorities raised above, and this progressive body of work is beginning to have a tangible impact [albeit at a slow pace] on the more ‘dogmatic’, cis-het and elusive Lankan left. 

Other movements that call for change notably include one that stems from a lot more cis-hetero-normative, socially conservative and somewhat “islanded” place, with a marketable smokescreen of inclusivity and plurality, and rooted in a large-scale NGO/shramadana movement. The latter appears to primarily cater to a Sinhalese upper middle class audience, a space where there’s an increased and not insincere emphasis of ‘do-good-ing’, but where any form of progressive movement-building is marred by majoritarian-nationalist, classist, and heavily cis-hetero-normative inclinations, which risk throwing many minorities under the bus or at best, subjecting them to [non]politics of tokenisation. Pulls [and not movements] for constructive change are also not absent in the right/centre-right. 

To conclude, suffice to note that when we think of transforming our political culture/s, institutions, and strengthening good governance, rights, and the rule of law, we cannot address those issues without a critical-decolonial and intersectional feminist focus on shaking, un-settling and dismantling existing ‘systems’. The time will surely come, when we will be able to shape our politics, public policy and diplomacy based on intersectional feminist priorities, in the spirit of those freedoms of ours that were taken away from us when we were subjected to forced colonial occupation. We may no longer be very familiar with those freedoms, due to the violent ways in which our ancestors were ripped off them. Questioning, un-learning, claiming inclusive space across the board, we will get there, sooner or later. The more we progress on such a path, wielding her varadamudrā, Tara will eventually be ours again. 

*The writer is a political analyst, author and gender justice activist. 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Replace European with Sinhala colonialism and this will hold very true for Tamils.

    “…the ultimate achievement of missionary and colonialist education, which was (and is) solely intended at producing ‘good’ [i.e. pathetically servile] subjects, who never dare to question oppressive systems or take a critical stand. They would also work hard to maintain the privileges of the coloniser on our soil, and their positions in a colonialist hierarchy. “

    As far as the Tamils are concerned, the education system of Sri Lanka upholds the Sinhala Buddhist narrative and by extension the oppressive Sinhala Buddhist state. Chamindra is correct on the need to decolonise and break down the structures of oppression. Race, gender, and class are at intersection and there is no liberation for one without the other as they are all intertwined. What you have today in the island is a political class that needs to maintain its status and privileges (from the royal college brand to the deep southern brand) and a class of pseudo-leftist intellectuals with the likes of Dayan J to work for them.

    • 5
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      thamizh,
      “Replace European with Sinhala colonialism and this will hold very true for Tamils.”
      Saying that Sinhalayo colonized their own country is a big joke. It is like saying ‘English people colonized England’. Sinhale was colonized by Dravidian, Parangi, Olanda and Ingirisi barbarians. on 4th February 1948, Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo who are the native people in Sinhale got independence from British and Vellalar Dravidians.

      • 0
        2

        we need militaristic govt to direct kallothonies back to kallathony’s land-Tamil Nadu and as part of it, We need to clean fake Sinhalese Buddhist leaders

  • 10
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    The writer writes: Tara is our goddess. She belongs in Lanka, and not in the British Museum……….

    Load of tosh. If Tara was in Colombo, she would have been stolen to order, and by now lying in someone’s private collection. Or, for the short time she was on show, we would have been charged to see her (but happily foreigners, pay ten times more than we do). On the many times I have visited the British Museum, I have walked in free, admired the curvaceous goddess (and the other goodies on display) and walked out happy that the security arrangements are water tight. The Goddess is under surveillance 24/7.

    Perhaps the busy doctor and others of the ilk can turn their minds to more pressing matters. Perhaps they can address the curse of bad politicians that has brought us to our present state after seventy one years of ‘freedom’.

  • 5
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    ” The political class continues to operate along a very [neo]colonial paradigm, of benefiting from a superiority complex of having blinded and uncritical followers, and of sustaining their class interests first. “
    There was a picture that was circulating from the wedding of Rohitha Rajapakse, where the ruling elite from the clashing parties were seen smiling at each other, sitting and dining together, meanwhile their blind followers are still fighting over who gets to rule over them.
    ….
    “Whenever leaders with independent and visionary policy agendas emerged, some colonial powers would go to great lengths to eliminate them.”
    They get labelled as terrorists when they fight for liberation from these oppressive structures.

  • 5
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    Two topics to resurface on 4th Feb are colonialism and what independence truly means to the public who are still living in Lanka. What I write here is what I gained from experiences shared by people of different generations who had experienced the independence at its various stages. It is like people of different ages who share their thoughts on some one from infancy to death.Unfortunately most historians are deceased but few are still alive (nonagenarians). Minorities in general do not feel they are independent and still under colonial rule of a different kind. Chamindra there are quite a lot of people who have surrendered there land,property,house to an occupational force.Families were displaced umpteen times, left their own country as refuge empty handed, scared and hiding in foreign lands,citizenship taken away,children born and living in camps as refugees in India not having a clue about their mother land ——etc. Some of the elders had plenty of nostalgic moments to share, but none what so ever after independence. They never felt the boots on their throats as in post independence.It is colonialism for people within country who cannot freely speak or practice their religion/culture. At least with the foreigners there was hope and an option of them leaving. Where as now, these Lankans have no place to go or live. As you said there is Tara, kept in dark , in a British Museum. Where as plenty of Tara,s in Lanka today are left destitute with no hope, by our own governments. This is colonialism of a different kind.

    • 3
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      Obviously you would have liked our country to remain in the hands of your European invader ancestors and friends. But all problems you refer to were originated by those bastards, and we cant solve them until the Tamils, Muslims and Brughers understand that.

      Our ancestors fought with their blood to regain the country and we will do the same to keep it independent of foreign invasions again. Problem solving comes second.

      If you don’t like that, tough luckChow Chow dog.. We don’t want you here,

      • 7
        3

        Tamil people’s sovereignty was robbed from them by the European colonials and passed on from one to another and eventually served onto a platter to the Sinhalese. All the rest is history. For the Tamils, European colonialism just got replaced by Sinhala colonialism and the gist of what Chamindra says can apply to it.

  • 14
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    Visit the Colombo Museum and see for yourself how poorly our national treasures are maintained. There are leaking ceilings and lax security. At least Tara is safe in the British Museum – for us and the World. It’s ironic that our former rulers still have to do our work for us.

    • 1
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      why are people so obsessed with how well these artifacts are preserved and miss the point of the author. here the discussion is on what these (i.e. tara) mean to the colonised and the coloniser and the need to decolonise our thinking, the result of colonisation.

  • 3
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    [“Her [Tara’s] bronze statue plated in gold was stolen from Sri Lanka’s Kandyan Kingdom when the British colonized the island in 1815”].
    One wonders when gold-plating technology reached the then Ceylon.
    [“Tara’s upper body is completely naked with a sarong draped around her hip concealing her body waist down”].
    The Sigiriya frescoes are topless. During the era of Kandyan Kingdom ‘topless’ was accepted by Malayalee.
    [“As such, she was locked up in a discreet storeroom, aptly named ‘the Secretum’ for nearly thirty years”].
    The Museum must take the blame. Not the ‘colonialists’ who have more serious blames to carry and still continuing to blunder.
    .
    Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana: Do you really need to use words like, for example, ‘non-cisnormativities and/or-non-heteronormativities, non-heteronormative sexualities, phallocentric nature, etc’?
    Same for some of the sentences.
    .
    By the way [“The fact that the demand for a 1000 LKR daily wage is one that 98% concerns Malayaga Tamil women is a key reason why the majoritarian-nationalist, racist, patriarchal state and corporate class do not care”].
    Malayaga people were the poorest of poor during the Raj.
    They remain poorest of poor today because of their leaders of the Thondaman ilk.

  • 2
    6

    “Whenever leaders with independent and visionary policy agendas emerged, some colonial powers would go to great lengths to eliminate them.”
    ———————
    That is exactly what happened in this country. The regime change in 2015 was planned and executed by White Supremacists who wanted to eliminate Mahinda Rajapakse because he did not listen to those two crooks who came and asked him to stop the war and the country was progressing economically with his policies after eliminating LTTE terrorism that lasted for about four decades.

  • 2
    0

    A timely article. Thanks Chamindra for drawing attention to Tara and the lack of de colonial vision among the political class. The political class is using nationalism, sovereignty, nation(jatiya) etc. as political slogans while adopting and following economic and social prescriptions recommended by former imperialist centres through their agencies.In order to counter their propaganda, slogans and rhetoric, a broad based civic movement has to emerge from the educated segments of the population. The country will have a future only under the guardianship of such a movement for decolonisation and actual freedom. However, I do not see this happening when our education system, in particular the higher education is still trapped in the colonial and neo colonial mindset. I have described this pathetic situation in one of my recent articles published in Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences. See https://sljss.sljol.info/articles/abstract/10.4038/sljss.v41i2.7696/

    I agree on the point about the internal colonialism that our political class has constructed since so-called independence.Instead of representative democracy, we have representative aristocracy. Change in this system is long overdue. State itself has become a burden on the people not only in economic terms but also moral, and freedom terms. Corrupted systems do not serve the interests of people at large. Decolonisation of state institutions is long overdue. But we cannot expect this to happen from the current ruling class -as it does not have the necessary vision or the drive. A third force has to emerge from broader society, especially enlightened sections, if any to articulate an alternative vision, strategy to secure power and make changes.

  • 7
    2

    Tara the so called Sri Lankan mother goddess ( a very Hindu Dravidian concept) looks like a typical South Indian sculpture , so mother goddess came from South India or was carved by a South Indian artist , for the Sinhalese to worship a South Indian mother goddess. Why because the so called Kandyan king and all the nobility and upper castes are all imports from South India. What an irony everything is Tamil/South Indian , even the mother goddess but full of hatred and venom towards the Tamils.

    • 0
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      how many global jews hiding here as south indian tamil?

  • 2
    0

    Wow Pseudo patriot. You mean the British left so that the Chinese can enter. Dont kick your begging bowl ( it is a trait of a retard Chow , chow) because you will need it when hungry. Lankans fought for their independence ????? Are you referring to the mythical history made for tele drama.

  • 3
    0

    Thank you Dr.W. for this response to Senel’s article I hope readers can understand the crux of your argument, without getting lost in the pedantic language.

    I think Sinhalese LGBT folks are probably a group that can better understand the plight of Tamizh people in Sri Lanka, having experienced harassment, ostracism,ridicule, and occasional violence from the majority community.

    Colonialism can also be a mindset. Look at the case of African-Americans. After nearly 400 years of inhumane oppression, generation after generation is afflicted by a mentality which causes one to devalue themselves.

    A case in point is the strong desire for women, and even men, to have lighter skin and eye color. This is not unique to SL, but to many of the global South.

    In order to reclaim what is truly ours, we have to unite with others like us – LGBT, Tamizh, Muslim – and take an honest look at our culture, what it was and what is has become.

    We are not who we were before Vasco de Gama set afoot in South Asia – yet we have significant remnants of that material and non-material culture among and within us. We also have incorporated cultural attributes that are from Europe and elsewhere. Let us look at these squarely in the face and identify those that are positive and those that are negative. Then decide which to retain and which to discard. In my opinion, nepotism and nationalism are 2 that should be discarded, while meritocracy and individual liberty are 2 that need to be nurtured.

  • 1
    0

    People keep saying that it’s well and good we got rid the fighting Tigers/lions etc but doesn’t want to find a lasting solution for the return of any new group, telling that there is no solution for our national conflict and criticizing the thought of National Govt are pure un-education and show of covertness, these are strictly not Buddhist philosophy, What is the meaning of National language Both Sinhala & the Tamil languages are National language Those in the National Employment need to learn both Easy

  • 1
    2

    How many global jews are hiding here as Tamil commenters

  • 0
    0

    I read this slowly and carefully, investing a lot of time. Thank you Chamindra for your fine perspectives. Your argument, and your hope for my country springs eternal.

    // the time will surely come, when we will be able to shape our politics, public policy and diplomacy based on intersectional feminist priorities, in the spirit of those freedoms of ours that were taken away from us when we were subjected to forced colonial occupation. We may no longer be very familiar with those freedoms, due to the violent ways in which our ancestors were ripped off them. Questioning, un-learning, claiming inclusive space across the board, we will get there, sooner or later. //The more we progress on such a path, wielding her varadamudrā, Tara will eventually be ours again.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Dr. Chamindra

    An insightful commentary, no doubt. You must realize that you are speaking to the divided and conquered, and likely to remain so for some time.

    Many in Sri Lanka prefer some sort of colonialism new or old, and the introduction of the minority privilege by the British has simply pulled the ground from beneath the feet of the nationalist movement.

    De-colonization is a difficult task, we are better suited to moving towards a cosmopolitanism, and hopefully a strong backlash.

    You may be aware that people who have a strong sense of racial identity are happier. (Science Daily)

  • 1
    0

    This 8th century Mahayana statue was from the eastern coast of SL. The Kandyan king was betrayed by whom?? The British museum is free, primarily because it consist mainly of stolen goods, but not all such museums are free. Theft and colonisation, though bad has happened even in our history as well as in recent generations by the political class (of ethno, religious, tribal and family junta). Even after being at the receiving end of European racial theories, SL has been incapable of overcoming the more primitive tribal theories, where even the priests are incapable. Blindly blaming external factors for the failure of the internal and self is a common, the sooner we can get over this ‘adu kale helawima’, the better.

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