25 October, 2020

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Video: Sri Lanka’s Kaffir Culture

Historians say that the Kaffirs of Sri Lanka started arriving from the eastern shores of Africa in the 1500s with the Portuguese, and later in more waves with the different colonisers of Sri Lanka.

‘Kaffir culture’ is a video portrait of one such community of Kaffirs and the struggle to keep their culture alive in the face of falling numbers.

Written and produced by Kannan Arunasalam.

Music by Ceylon Kaffir Manja, arranged by Jesse Hardman.

Special thanks to Sweta Velpillay (on sound), Nethra Samarawickrema (for help with translations), Leah Worthington (background research) and Greg Kelly (Radio Netherlands). Date of completion 2010

 

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Beautiful smiling people..so refreshing to watch this video – thank you.

  • 1
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    So similar to Tamils.

    SL government should look into their problems. Why they are not in parliament, cricket team, army, etc.?

    • 0
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      govt is busy solving problems of politicians and their family pedigree.

    • 0
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      Fathima Fuku – “So similar to Tamils” ?? Ever seen in person or
      photographs of Vigneswaren, Sampanthan and the late Minister M. Tiruchelvam QC or even Jayalalitha Jayaram across the Straits.
      Your stupidity in these pages stinks as does your name. Fortunately,
      there are many better Muslims.

      Thamilthambi

    • 1
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      Fathima Fukushima

      “SL government should look into their problems. Why they are not in parliament, cricket team, army, etc.?”

      The parliament, cricket team, army, etc are home for crooks, rapists, war criminals, thugs, thieves, drug barons, child molesters, all the scums, saffron cladistas, ………….

      Hence Kaffirs avoid those houses of thieves.

    • 1
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      Your ignorance on the history of the Island is so glaringly obvious. You will be better served by reading some relevant text books!
      Did you go to school in Sri Lanka?

      • 0
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        Mahen, relax, not everyone knows our history as you do. Certainly not me, time to get back to reading our History, which I don’t recall our schools taught, regarding the Kaffir’s.
        Cheers.

    • 0
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      fatima [Edited out] of lanka toilet web oi,[Edited out]

  • 0
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    Those many do-gooders in the NGO community, other service organisations and even the State should have paid greater attention to these helpless and innocent folks blessed with that enticing smile – very much within the psyche of all Kaffir men, women and children. Is Kaffir necessarily the derogatory Kaapiri?

    It will be surprising if attempts have not been made to educate and integrate them into society with the State leading the way in recruiting them to the army, the Police and so on.

    It is admirable Colombo Telegraph brought the plight of these people to the notice of the readership.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    YouTube has some recordings of these people singing in a Portuguese patois. Very rhythmic and beautiful music.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3ohKs4s6yE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9OuqFkSfwA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP1QxcigeeA

  • 0
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    About 15 years ago a beautiful and informative documentary about the Kaffir population in Sri Lanka was repeatedly shown on one the local TV channels depicting their livelihood, cultural practices etc. Yet it had failed to capture the attention of the relevant authorities of the government. They seem to be a neglected community in our country.

  • 1
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    1. I just heard better, clear and more polite sinhala spoken by these lady folks than what’s being spoken by our own sinhala people.
    2. When I was a primary school kid, I have heard from my mother that she had seen fearful looking “Kaaberi” carrying guns travelling to and fro on motor bikes through our village, around the time of the Second World War and immediately after. That was her way of describing her impressions. As I grew up, I began to realize that she was referring to military men brought over by the British during war time, presumably from their African colonies. However it did not occur to me that such people might have come with their families or their other female support staffs, and at the end of their duties, had settled down in Sri Lanka. So, now I know that they did, and where. This video is very interesting to me and I am impressed by the way they have adopted to our country and its culture, language etc. Its a salutory lesson on integration and adaption. May be our Tamil bretheren and sisters should learn something from them on integration and not complaining. These people y hardly complained, except on the point of attempted exploitation by our own Sinhala broadcasters,. Their tenacity and joyful attitude to life as depicted here is impressive. They fully deserve a helping hand from the State and local government to improve their conditions.

  • 1
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    The word kaffir was used in the former South Africa to refer to a black person. Now an offensive ethnic slur, it was previously a neutral term for black southern Africans.

    The word is derived from the Arabic term Kafir,which is often used to mean ‘disbeliever’ but actually means ‘one who conceals [the truth]’.[1]

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • 0
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    Good on you folks to refresh our knowledge of our shared past.

  • 0
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    Guys Kaffir’s are very similar to the Mauritians, in fact the dance and the creole represent the roots from Mauritius.

  • 1
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    Fathima , you are human being and should not compare karriffs in srilanka to any other race . I wonder why you muslim people go no whwre in life . Your race will be completely erased from this phase of the earth .

  • 0
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    First of all can all of you shut the hell up!! What’s so disturbing about this is mostly the articles name!! Why the use of the word “Kaffir”, this is highly offensive !! Even African from Africa would bitch slap you if you ever referred to them in any given form, age or generation as a “kafir”!!
    #disgusting that such beautiful people with a rich culture can still in this day and age can be referred to as “kaffir”

  • 1
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    Kaffir culture has a older history in SL than Tamill culture.

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