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Battaramulla then and some unforgettable characters

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(Excerpted from the memoirs of Rtd. Senior DIG Police Edward Gunawardena)

Ganahena is perhaps the highest area; and St. Mathew’s Anglican Church built in 1850 is located here. Sri Sudassanaramaya the oldest temple in the village is also located on a high location close to Ganahena. These were the only places of worship. There were no Mosques or Kovils. However on the site on which St. Mathew’s Church stands there had existed a Hindu place of worship called the Gane Kovil. I have myself seen large granite columns strewn about in the churchyard. These are no more to be seen. A remarkable feature was the unity in which the Christians and Buddhists lived. In fact no family was wholly Buddhist or wholly Christian. My grandfather once told me that when a Revd. Welikala was the Parish Priest of St. Mathew’s Church, his brother had been the Chief Incumbent of the Sri Sudassanarama temple!

The sub-village place names mentioned above served a very useful purpose particularly because the systematic numbering of houses had not commenced. Persons and places were identified with reference to these places. eg. ‘Ganahena Kanda Uda’, ‘Udumulla lindalanga’, ‘Deniye Simon’, ‘Minuwanvila Carolis’ or Averiwatta Romlas’.

Ownership of land was mainly in small-holdings. But certainly not small by today’s standards. It was not unusual for a family to own an acre or more. Most of these plots were planted with coconut, arecanut and ground crops such as manioc, batala, pepper and even coffee. It is indeed a matter for regret that with the demand for land in Battaramulla in the 80s and 90s and the prices rocketing many of the less affluent decided to sell their lands and move further away from Colombo to places such as Pore, Habarakada and Aturugiriya. The massive influx of the affluent, urban middle class who have built palatial homes has certainly transformed the tranquil, traditional, unspoilt village that I have lived from birth to a crude mix of Cinnamon Gardens and Maligawatta of Colombo. Indeed the face of the village which I have known so intimately from the forties of the last century has changed beyond recognition. Only the name ‘Battaramulla’ remains. The story of Battaramulla over the past five decades is the story of a ‘vanished village’.

Large extents of land were rare; and the few that existed were owned by non-villagers. The present Jayanthipura which originated as a housing project during the premiership of Sir John Kotelawela was a coconut land belonging to the de Livera family. The large extent of land that forms the residential complex of Subuthipura was a rubber plantation belonging to a lawyer by the name of Ebert from Kalutara. The area bordering Lily Avenue off the Robert Gunawardena Mawatha was a rubber land belonging to a Vanlangenberg. During the rubber boom of the late forties and early fifties my father was the lessee of this land. As children we were able to closely observe how the latex was collected and sheet rubber turned out. My parental house and the house in which I live today are on a land that once belonged to the Lady Obeysekera Trust which had been purchased by my father and his two younger brothers in 1931. A substantial part of this eight-acre land is to-date retained by the family.

The land on which the Battaramulla Maha Vidyalaya stands today belonged to the Dassanayake family of Mirigama. Until the time of its acquisition by the Education Department my father was its leaseholder. This was the land on which the four Gunawardena brothers started playing football. Soon other children as well as adults were to join, ultimately leading to the birth of the Wingers’ Football Club. More about football later.

 

Roads and other utilities

The two main roads that traversed the village were the Colombo – Kaduwela Road, and the Pannipitiya Road commencing from the Battaramulla bazaar. The former was better known as the Colombo – Godagama Road. The village stood between the sixth and seventh mileposts on this road. These were the only macadamized roads. The present Parliament roundabout and the road to Parliament and beyond to Pelawatta and to Koswatta did not exist. The present Parliament was built in the eighties. The by-roads of note the Averiwatta Road, the Udumulla Road. and the Korambe Road. were all Village Council (VC) roads and they were all single lane gravel paths.

My father’s residence where I lived with my grandfather, grandmother, my father and my brothers was on the large extent of land that my father had purchased abutting the Korambe Road. From the Ganahena turn off up to the village boundary, was the present Parliament Rd. The others who lived on this road were the Jansens and the Vanlangenbergs on the eastern side and the Wijewickremas, Jamis baas and Obiyas baas on the Western side. James and Obiyas were much sought after village carpenters. The Wijewickrema property which was adjoining our land was occupied later by Roy Perera and his wife who were from Badulla. They were a very amiable couple who were very fond of children. Hema de Silva a nephew of Roy was a regular visitor who became friendly with us and would even take us regularly to see Hindi films. He had just returned after graduating from the London School of Economics and joined the newly created Central Bank of Ceylon.

This road was generally deserted except for the few people from the village of Korambe who travelled to work on foot or to take bus from the Battaramulla bazaar. Most casual labourers came from Korambe. I remember Lewis Aiya, Burampi and Thomis Appu as extremely honest and hardworking. The last mentioned drove our buggy cart. In the nights these people returning home carried chulu lights (hulu athu) and sang loud to scare away serpents from the road. Snakebites were common on these unlit by-roads; and the snake bite specialist (Sarpa vedamahattaya) who lived in Korambe was a much wanted man. He was the brother of the best known Vedamahattaya of Battaramulla, Simon Vedamahattaya.

It was from the Averiwatta (Rajamalwatta) Road that we approached the paddy fields and threshing floors that belonged to my grandfather. Ambalangodella was a substantial extent of paddy land together with a well tended fodder grass land. Cartloads of harvested fodder grass were delivered daily to Elephant House that used bullock carts for the transport of aerated waters.

As children my brothers and I enjoyed working in these paddy fields during the school holidays. Harvesting time was particularly pleasant I still remember even the Kamath language eg. Batha, maduwan, ambaruwa etc. My brother Irwin showed a special liking for the paddy fields and did not shy away from the mud. Fittingly in later life he joined the Agriculture Department and eventually rose to be the Director General of Agriculture.

The Udumulla road which was quite narrow, led through footpaths to the northern fringes of the village, the scanty settlement of Hakurugoda and an extensive patch of thick shrub jungle called Bogahahena. Hakurugoda was characterized by three or four small families of the Jaggery caste. These people integrated well with the rest of the villagers. Being traditionally cooks by profession the men were much sought after at village weddings and other social functions. The women carrying baskets on their heads were a welcome sight. They went house to house with breakfast preparations of string hoppers, pittu and hoppers together with delicious vegetable curries and sambols. During the New Year time everybody looked forward to their Kevum, Kokis, Aasmi, Helapa etc.

Two landmarks that I distinctly remember on the Udumulla road were the public bathing well and an elevated garden of mangosteen trees with a fashionable house. The occupant of these premises was an elderly English gentleman by the name of Meaden. He had been a former civil servant in the colonial administration.

Another important footpath that I often used as a short cut, connected the Pannipitiya road from near the present Indrajothi Vidyalaya with the Sri Sudassanarama Temple. On this narrow by-way was located a coconut land where the Hamers lived. Opposite this land was a home for destitute dogs which was very caringly and efficiently run by an energetic English lady by the name of Mrs. Bartlam. I remember visiting this place that was well known as the ‘Balu Madama’ with a parcel of buns for the dogs. There were several others too from the village who had brought food for the dogs.

In the late forties there was no electricity in the village. Some shops and a few affluent households used Petromax lamps. Most people used kerosene lamps with chimneys. Bottle lamps were widely used. Hurricane lanterns were used for outdoor activities while cyclists used carbide lamps. We as children were not allowed by our father to study by kerosene light. He saw to it that the four brothers used candies. Even today whenever lights fail I make do with a candle.

There was no refrigerator or any other electrical appliance in our home. It was common to preserve fish or pork in salt. Delicious preparations were made of salted fish or salted pork. T

The butter, bacon and sausages that my father brought were salted and did not need refrigeration. It is no exaggeration to say that the bacon or sausages sold today are insipid compared to what we ate then. Whenever my father brought ice cream, the container was packed in dry ice. Although rare, whenever an Elephant House van had to pass the village, apart from two or three crates of aerated waters a few chunks of ice were delivered to our home. Making our own ice cream with milk, eggs and mango juice in a manually operated churner was great fun.

There was no water service or drainage. All households had wells and well kept pit latrines. Water for household use was kept in earthenware pots. Boiled drinking water was also stored in earthen decanters. It was a practice for most households by the road to have a large pot of water covered with a coconut shell for the use of thirsty wayfarers.

 

Schools

In the forties and the fifties there were only three schools in the village. The Christian Missionary School situated in the premises of St. Mathew’s Church which to-date remains a popular institution for juniors is perhaps the oldest. Even a century ago this school had been well known for discipline. My grandfather used to relate many stories about the headmaster of the time by the name of Hendrick Gurunanse. Children feared him so much that the mischievous ones wore gunny sacks under their sarongs. He had been a firm believer in the dictum “Spare the rod and spoil the Child”. His son H.D.L. Perera better known as Lennet Ralahamy was the Headman of Battaramulla until the Grama Sevaka system replaced the headman system.

The Indrajothi Vidyalaya on the Pannipitiya road had about four class rooms and three or four teachers. Today this is a popular school catering mainly to the expanding population on the Pannipitiya road to Pelawatta and beyond. This school and the Christian Missionary School which are government schools today, being on limited space have no land for any further expansion. At Mampewatta on the land of Henry Boteju a prominent local politician was situated a small school that was known as the YMBA School. The land adjoining my father’s property which was held by the latter on lease was acquired by the Education Department to accommodate the YMBA School. Fortunately for Battaramulla and the entire locality this school developed rapidly to become the present Sri Subhuthi Madya Maha Vidyalaya catering even to children from Colombo. The role played by the late M.D.H. Jayawardena when he represented the Kaduwela electorate and was a senior minister in the Dudley Senanayake government of 1965 in the development of this school will never be forgotten by the people of Battaramulla.

The English language was not taught in any of these schools. As a result before the Maha Vidyalaya took shape children wanting to learn English attended the Kotte Bangalawa School which subsequently became the Kotte Christian College.

My grandfather had come to know Rev. Dowbiggin, the head of the Christian Mission in Kotte. In fact the latter had succeeded in converting him to Christianity. My father and his two younger brothers had attended this school and been successful in the English School Leaving Certificate Examination (ESLC). Incidentally it was the son of Rev. Dowbiggin, Herbert Dowbiggin, who after his education at Trinity College Kandy and Cambridge became the Inspector-General of Police.

 

Transport & Retail Facilities

Travel to work or to school or places away from the village, particularly to Borella and Fort was by bus. Buses were few in number and belonged to the Colombo Omnibus Company. It was also called the B.J. Fernando Bus Company. The bus crews were extremely polite and even knew the regular travelers personally.

Travelling in the open bodied buses was fun. The Battaramulla terminus for the Borella buses was at the present turn off to the Battaramulla cemetery. As school children we were particularly fond of the bus that was driven by Yahonis Aiya. He was a very kind driver who was caring and helpful to the children. ‘Checker’ Patrick Aiya who usually travelled in this bus was also a friendly and amiable sort. Not long ago, in the mid eighties I often met Yahonis on my walks. He was old but strong enough to ride a bicycle. He never failed to get off the bicycle; and I made it a point to have a brief chat with him. He took great pride in the fact that the DIG Metropolitan traveled in his bus as a child. His funeral in the village of Korambe was well attended.

Fish and vegetable vendors who were mainly womenfolk also brought their goods from the Pettah market in these passenger buses. Baskets of fish and vegetables were accommodated on the hoods of buses and the loading and unloading was done by the conductor. He considered this as a part of his duty. Most passengers returning from Colombo after work also brought their vegetables, fish and meat in bags made of reeds as polythene bags were not even known at that time. Restrictions on this free and easy manner of transport of consumables commenced with the introduction of buses with fully enclosed bodies which were known as ‘Nelson body’ buses at the time.

 

Use of Bicycles

Cycling was a popular means of transport. Most people used bicycles to travel to their workplaces in Colombo. So did the children particularly boys in their teens to travel to schools such as Christian College Kotte, Wesley, St. Joseph’s and Ananda. The bicycles were all imported brands —Raleigh, Humber and Hercules. They were quite costly. As a result the theft of bicycles was a common occurrence. It was such a nuisance that bicycle theft was considered a ‘grave crime’ by the police. It was necessary for the OIC of the police station to visit the scene of theft and also report such theft to Police Headquarters. Every office, school and even shops had bicycles stands for parking bikes. At almost all the places reserved for the parking of bicycles there were warning boards in red, ‘Beware of Cycle Thieves’.

During the war because motor vehicles were not allowed to drive with their head lights on when the ‘black out’ regulation came into force it was difficult to spot cyclists ahead. As a result all bicycles apart from a rear reflector were compelled to paint the lower section of the rear mudguard white.

Much police time on the roads was spent on taking up offenses of cyclists. Riding without lights was considered a serious offense. Most cyclists used carbide or oil lamps until the dynamo became popular. Carrying a passenger on the bar or doubling and riding abreast were the other offenses that were detected by police. Most culprits were schoolboys. I remember having being detected ‘doubling’ on at least three occasions. However on all these occasions I was to plead with the sergeant or constable and escape being charged. One reason was because I made it a point to address the detecting officer as ‘Sir.’

I was once ‘doubling’ a friend, who in later life became a member of the Ceylon Civil Service (CCS) and was detected at Maradana. The sergeant let us go. But he deflated the tyres and asked us to push the bicycle home!

There was another friend of mine who adopted a unique ruse. Whenever he was detected he gave his name as ‘Abraham Lincoln’. In his carrier basket the three exercise books on top carried this name. He also gave a false address. Often he made it a point to be at the Maligawatta Courts on days that these cases were usually heard to enjoy the fun when the name Abraham Lincoln was called loud by the court Mudaliyar. This exceptional prankster in later life became a President’s Counsel and an Ambassador. That was at least 25 years before the National Identity Card was introduced.

 

Goods Transport

There were no vans, double cabs, tractors or landmasters in the village. It was rarely that a lorry was seen. Transport of all types of goods was by bullock carts which were in plenty. It was a common sight to see handcarts being pushed along with vegetables, young coconuts (Kurumba) etc.

My grandfather had two bullock carts in addition to a passenger carrying tirikkale which he enjoyed driving. The bullock carts that were kept in our premises were used mainly for the transport of paddy, coconuts and rubber. Occasionally these carts were hired to cover the expenses of the carters and the cost of fodder for the cart bulls.

Even large business establishments such as Elephant House and the Colombo Commercial Company used bullock carts. The former used bullock carts extensively for the transport of aerated waters whilst the latter transported building materials to their work sites in bullock carts.

In the late forties and early fifties Uncle Sam, my fathers younger brother had a licensed tea cider manufactory in Battaramulla. This became a popular alcoholic drink particularly in the estate areas upcountry. It was a common sight to see hundreds of bullock carts lined up to load tea cider crates to be transported to destinations in the Kandy, Ratnapura and Kalutara districts.

It was a highly profitable business, but Uncle Sam gave up this business as his wife, Auntie Florence, was not very happy with the production of an alcoholic beverage. She was the daughter of a leading Baptist minister and Principal of Carey College, Revd. W.M.P. Jayatunga. Subsequently Uncle Sam began the manufacture of mirrors which turned out to be a successful venture. His son, the late Herschel Gunawardena, became a well known astronomer.

 

Retail Trade

There was only one grocery store of note in the Battaramulla bazaar. This belonged to an Indian by the name of Abraham. Vegetables and fish were mainly sold by women seated on the roadside. There were so many such roadside vendors that the bazaar resembled a fair. Women carrying baskets of vegetables, dry fish etc. also visited homes regularly.

My father purchased provisions for our home monthly from a wholesale grocery in Welikada, W.D. Paulin Appuhamy & Sons. The bulk of the goods that came in a bullock cart from Welikada consisted of poonac and kollu, a seed akin to cowpea, as fodder for our cart bulls and the large herd of cattle that roamed our land. The cows in this herd yielded adequate milk for our home consumption. The breakfast of each of the four brothers, before leaving for school was a large mugfull of hot milk mixed with two eggs and sugar. Even the eggs were from the free run poultry in the garden.

The only shop that sold clothing and other personal goods like shoes, slippers etc. was Rajamoney’s also in the Battaramulla bazaar. However cloth as well as numerous other personal requirements ranging from shoes, sarongs, banians & socks to items such as mirrors, combs and soaps were brought by Chinese and Moor traders to the door step.

The ‘China man’ who pushed his bicycle along with a large bundle of cloth on the luggage carrier and the Moor man wearing a fez with several coloured umbrellas hung on the handlebars were regularly seen on our road. They were both good humoured men who happily tolerated the annoyance caused to them by mischievous children. I still remember how the China man pretended to be angry and threatening when children shouted, “Cheena booku, booku, chinare” and ran away.

The man carrying a bread basket was a welcome visitor to our home. The black barrel shaped basket with a pyramidal cover kept the bread and buns fresh and warm. Apart from bread and buns he brought popcorn sugar coated balls and fresh thala ‘gull’. During the week-ends, when we did not have to rush to school, we looked forward to the visit of the ammes’ who brought breakfast preparations of string hoppers, hoppers, pittu etc. Curries made of kebella leaves and gotukola with maldive fish were delicious indeed.

Electricians and plumbers were unheard of in the village. Of course there was no electricity or water service. Obiyas Bass and Jamis Bass were excellent carpenters. Appuhamy from the village of Korambe was a much sought after mason and Coranelis who was partially deaf was the painter that my father always employed for the colour washing of our walls. The village blacksmith was also a busy man. He was well known in the village as Mattha. Our ‘dhoby’ or laundryman who was addressed as ‘Hene Mama’ was an elderly man from Korambe who visited our home every week. I remember him contacting leprosy and ending up at the Leprosy Hospital, Hendala.



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THE DEMOCRATIC PARADOX OF SRI LANKA

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by R.J. de Silva, Attorney-at-law

In the distant past, there were many approaches to running civilizations. Cruel and ruthless dictators perpetrated assault on human rights, with impunity. The best known among these tyrants were ATTILA the HUN (AD 434-453 of present day Hungary ), GENGHIS KHAN ( 1206-1227 in Central Asia and China ), TIMUR ( 1370-1405 of modern Syria, Iran , Afghanistan) and QUEEN MARY alias ‘Bloody Mary’(1553-1558 in England ).

The combination of divine or absolute power and lack of contact with people made Dictators and Autocrats fascinating as well as terrifying. It is unclear if such characters suffered from mental illness as defined by current standards or whether their lives were marked by incidents that made them ruthless.

Hadenius and Teorell ( 2007 ) identified distinct dictatorships in monarchies, military regimes, one party regimes and restricted multiparty regimes. Studies have revealed that many dictatorial regimes, have democratic facades or some functioning democratic institutions, some holding regular elections and some having operational political parties and legislatures.

Dictatorships are a form of government in which all power remains in the hands of one person enjoying unlimited governmental power obtained by force or fraudulent means in sham elections. Dictatorships are often characterized by deaths or killings because of greed, hatred, pride and yearning for power. For instance, Hitler caused millions of deaths of Jews, Pol Pot killed millions of Cambodians to forcibly change its culture and Idi Amin was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Indians in Uganda.

Autocracy is very similar to a dictatorship. Here too, the supreme power lies in the hands of an individual with some supported by a slavish political party. Autocrats use little or no consultation when making decisions and exercise independent authority over policies and procedures. Their decisions are not subject to any legal restraints. The system suppresses public debate and makes criticism of the government, a criminal offence.

Like in dictatorships, autocracies also use force and punishments to those who disobey the leader’s commands. Autocrats manifest in many ways in despotism, oligarchy and fascism.

In the ideology of benevolent or enlightened despotism (popular in the 18th Century Europe),a absolute monarchs enacted a number of changes in political institutions and enlightened governance. Most of the despots started their careers as “freedom fighters”. Many of them amassed wealth abroad while the world was in denial.

An oligarchy is a form of government where power is in the hands of a small group of elite people, holding wealth or family or military prowess. Oligarchies are where a small minority rules the government and exercise power in corrupt ways. Such governments are frequently ruled by prominent families whose children are raised and coached as oligarchy’s heirs.

Fascism is a political ideology that elevates the nation and race above the individual and advocates a ‘Consolidated Autocratic government’ led by a dictator under strict economic and social regulation while suppressing the opposition. Fascist administrations were seen in Italy’s Fascist Party under Mussolini ( 1925-1945 )and the National Socialist German Worker’s Party ( Nazi Party ) under Adolf Hitler ( 1925-1943). Interestingly, the majority of the modern dictatorial regimes refer to their leaders by a variety of titles such as President, King and Prime Minister.

The 20th and 21st Century dictators and autocrats ruled with tyrannical power and never tolerated dissent. Some of them were VALDIMIR LENIN ( 1917-1924 Russia ), JOSEPH STALIN ( 1924-1953 Russia ), BENITO MUSSOLINI ( 1925-1945 Italy ), ADOLF HITLER ( 1933-1945 Germany ), FRANCISCO FRANCO ( 1939-1975 Spain ), MAO ZEDONG (1949-1976- China ), IDI AMIN (1971-1979 Uganda), AUGUSTO PINOCHET ( 1973- 1990 Chile ), GEOGIS PAPANDUPOULUS ( 1967-1974 Greece ), COL MUAMMER GADAFI ( 1969-2011 Libya ).

Dictator led countries are also associated with severe poverty, repression, decreasing health and life expectancy, famine, poor education and rising mental illnesses. Eight of these brutal and repressive autocracies which caused poverty in their countries were : KIM JONG UN since 2011 ( North Korea- 40% poverty ), NICOLAS MANDURO since 2013 with his Presidency in dispute ( Venezuela – 82% poverty ) , BASHA AL ASSAD since 2020 ( Syria -82% poverty ), PAUL KAGME since March 2000 (Rwanda -39.1% poverty ), RECEP ERDOGAN since 2014 ( an elected President in Turkey- 21.9% poverty ), and NGUEMA MBASOSGO longest standing President in the world since 1979 for 40 years to date ( Equatorial Guinea -76. 8% poverty). Two of them – PIERRE NKURUNZIZA ( Burundi ) and IDRIS DEBBY ( Chad ) died in June 2020 April 2021 leaving 64.6% and 46.7% poverty respectively, in their impoverished countries. However, VADIMIR PUTIN (since 2000 Russia ) and XI JING PING ( since 2013 China ) are leading economic powers, but these two countries have also never tolerated dissent.

It is common to see dictators and autocrats appointing prominent members of armed forces in civilian positions and show disrespect towards the independence of the judiciary and freedom for the media. Such systems and their rulers show no concern for human rights or dissent. For instance in China, when a popular national movement for democracy was precipitated by Chinese youth and students calling for greater accountability, constitutional due process, freedom of the Press, speech and association drawing about one million people to the Tiananman Square and about 400 other cities, China’s Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping violently suppressed the movement in one day on June 4, 1986, similar to what happened in Rathupaswela in Sri Lanka, subsequently.

The suppression of the Pro- Democracy movement by the use of the army was followed by the wide spread arrest and deportation of foreign journalists and the strict control of the Press. In Russia, VADIMIR PUTIN, characterized his rule with endemic corruption, jailing political opponents, intimidating media freedom and free and fair elections. When Russia invaded Ukrain in February 2022, Putin ordered the arrest of thousands of its own citizens for protesting against the war. Tsarist minded Putin decreed that the independent media and journalists will be will be given 15 year jail terms if the cruel destruction of Ukrain’s infrastructure, historical monuments, hospitals and bombing civilian targets are reported to the Russian people.

Dictators and Autocrats are prone to create personality based autocracies surrounded by family members. Family bandyism weakened State infrastructure in Sri Lanka after 2005. The Rajapaksa family based autocracy weakened the State, democratic practices and institutionalized corruption. Family members and lackeys of Iraq and Libyan leaders weakened the State apparatus of Iraq and Libya. The weakened States of Iraq and Libya were such that, it failed to produce nuclear weapons as planned, to meet the threat of Israeli expansion. Saddam Hussain ( Iraq ) appointed his son- in- law and notoriously brutal Hussein Kamil, to fast track the production of nuclear weapons. That resulted in scientists in Iraq intentionally further slowing down the programme and nicknamed it the “unclear power”.

In contrast, the tyrant Gadaffi ( Libya ) was surrounded by ‘yes men’ and female bodyguards and an ego trip as a result of which, had no inclination to produce scientists and engineers for the country capable of dealing with complex technicalities associated with the production of nuclear power.

Dictators and Autocrats are prone to interfere with the sovereignty of other countries. Chinese dictator XI JING PING despite being an economic power, is accused of subtle problematic debt trap diplomacy since 2018 in many poor countries in Africa and Asia ruled by corrupt and mismanaging leaders. PUTIN is facing credible allegations of gross violation of human rights in Ukrain and widespread calls for investigation leading up to a trial for war crimes.

Citizen tired of being oppressed and controlled made widespread demands for democracy and the creation of independent Nation States in Europe. Those revolutions popularly known as the ‘Peoples Spring’ in 1848, brought upheavals in Europe mainly due to the dissatisfaction with monarchies, which were at the helm of each country. The revolution started in Sicily and spread to France, Netherlands, Italy and Hungary, Austrian Empire, German Empire and the whole of Europe. Monarchies were replaced by Republics. Old leaders were forced to grant liberal constitutions.

Caught off guard, aristocracy and their allies plotted to return to power and many leaders of the revolutions went into exile. In the decades after 1848, little had changed. Many historians considered the “People’s Spring” a failure, due to the seemingly lack of permanent structural changes. Karl Marx, disappointed with the bourgeois character of the revolution, expressed the theory of a permanent revolution according to which the proletariat should strengthen democratic bourgeois revolutionary forces, until the proletariat itself was ready to seize power.

The Autumn of Nations between 1981 and 1991 (143 years after the political upheavals in Europe), brought down the former Soviet Union (USSR) which was beset with economic stagnation, mismanagement and excessive dogmatism of the Communist Party. It disintegrated USSR without bloodshed to endorse democratic reforms in their countries. Poland was the first to shrug off communism in 1989 after almost a decade of struggles. It was followed by Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Another wave of pro- democracy uprisings began in Muslim countries such as Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain in 2010/2011. It was named the “Arab Spring” and started in December 2010 from Tunisia. However, not all the nations that witnessed such social and political upheaval changed for the better. Some of the very same leaders who fought for democracy in the Muslim world (and in many other parts of the world), presided over the gradual decline of democratic rule in their countries.

In Egypt for example, despite the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, authoritarian rule returned after the controversial election of Morsi in 2012 leading to a coup by his Defence Minister Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in 2013 and he remains in power till today. Libya, since Col Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown violently in October 2011, has remained in a state of civil war with two opposing governments ruling separate regions of the country. The civil war that began in Syria with the Arab Spring has lasted for several years due to ISIS declaring a CALIPHATE governed by Islamic Law in North East of Syria. The ISIS has been effectively defeated, but the oppressive regime of BASHAR AL ASSAD continues with Russian support.

Democracy

In modern times, generations have rebelled against dictatorships and autocrdacy and fought for human rights and respect for the Rule of law. DEMOCRACY is the method of rule most countries have begun to approve. Although democracy is vulnerable it is very resilient. Mahatma Gandhi said: “Democracy and violence go ill together. States that are today minimally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian or if they must become fully democratic, they must become courageously nonviolent” and Langstone Hughes ( 1902 – 1967 ) wrote “Democracy will not come today, this year, not ever through compromise and fear. I tire so of hearing people say, let’s things take its own course. Tomorrow is another day. I do not need any freedom when I am dead. I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”

To be continued

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My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment says Beyonce

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Beyonce, shown attending the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, is slated to release a new album in July 2022

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, r Six years after she shook the culture with her powerful visual album “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s seventh solo studio work is a pulsating, sweaty collection of club tracks aimed at liberating a world consumed by ennui.

Beyonce, the paradigm-shifting music royal whose art has long established her as one of entertainment’s seminal stars, released her hotly anticipated album “Renaissance,” a house-tinged dance record primed for its summer needle drop

Eminently danceable and rife with nods to disco and EDM history — Queen Bey interpolates Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder along with James Brown and the archetypal synth line from “Show Me Love,” the 1990s house smash by Robin S — the 16-song album is poised to reign over the season.

Prior to releasing her opus Beyonce had dropped “Break My Soul” to acclaim, setting the tone for her house revival that highlighted the Black, queer and working-class artists and communities who molded the electronic dance genre, which first developed in Chicago in the 1980s.The megastar has indicated that “Renaissance” is but the first act of three, in a project she said she recorded over the course of three years during the pandemic.

“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” Beyonce on her website.

“It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving,” she continued. “My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking.”

“A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”

– ‘Expansive listening journey’ –

In the weeks preceding the release of “Renaissance” Beyonce teased the album with the steady stream of glossy, curated portraits of herself that over the past decade have become her signature.But though she’s received wide praise for keeping the world of music videos on the cutting edge, Beyonce put out her latest record sans visuals (they’re promised at a later date.)

In a statement her label Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records lent insight into the decision, saying the artist “decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey.”

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, rap, house and disco.

“Unique / That’s what you are /Stilettos kicking vintage crystal off the bar,” she sings on “Alien Superstar,” which samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” in a sonic ode to voguing, the stylized house dance that emerged from the Black LGBTQ ballroom culture of the 1960s.

That song closes by sampling a speech from Barbara Ann Teer, who founded Harlem’s National Black Theatre.

On “Virgo’s Groove” Beyonce gets raunchy with an unabashed sex anthem, adding a titular nod to her star sign — the Virgo turns 41 on September 4.Along with a smattering of deep house cuts as well as tributes to gospel, funk and soul, Beyonce’s collaborators on “Renaissance” include Nile Rodgers, Skrillex, Nigerian singer Tems, Grace Jones, Pharrell and, of course, her rap mogul husband Jay-Z.

– Album leaks, Beyhive stings –

Beyonce has long bucked music’s conventional wisdom, and is credited with popularizing the surprise album drop.She later made waves by releasing “Lemonade” — the groundbreaking work that chronicled her own emotional catharsis following infidelity within a generational and racial context — first on cable television, and limiting its streaming availability.

Since “Lemonade” she’s released “Homecoming,” a live album and film featuring footage from her mythic 2018 Coachella performance, as well as the critically acclaimed song “Black Parade” — which dropped amid mass protests ignited by the police murder of George Floyd.

That song saw the megastar, who first gained fame as a member of Destiny’s Child, become the winningest woman ever at the Grammys with 28, and the gala’s most decorated singer.But for all her cultural clout and an indisputable throne in music’s pantheon, Beyonce’s songs have not seen the same commercial dominance as other contemporary global stars — her last number one solo hit was 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

That’s poised to change with “Renaissance.”

The album’s release saw Queen Bey return to music business as usual, deploying pre-sales, a lead single drop, a tracklist and polished social media fodder.But it wasn’t without a hitch — in the days prior to the official release, the album leaked online.

Bey thanked her hive for waiting, and added that “I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early.”

“We are going to take our time and Enjoy the music,” the megastar told her fandom. “I love you deep.”–AFP

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Are we to burn borrowed dollars just to cook a meal?

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Eng. Parakrama Jayasinghe

How many of the consumers who opt to use LPG for cooking, realize that they are burning the dollars borrowed with difficulty, just to cook a meal, while the use of LPG hardly brings in any foreign exchange? The reality is that while the country is struggling to raise the dollars even through loans to import adequate supplies of transport fuel, taking loans to import LPG, which will not result in any Forex earnings could hardly be considered ethical or a priority.

The CBSL data below shows the immense amount of dollars drained out of the country in the past years, purely due to the high powered promotions to coerce and trap the consumers to this non sustainable consumption.

With the escalation of world market prices and the depreciation of the rupee , the impact in rupee terms in year 2022, if we are to import the same quantities, would be much greater as estimated. The Governor of the Central Bank has quite rightly stated that

Sri Lanka will have to manage with available dollar inflows, not bridging finance: CB Governor

By Economy Next • Issue #391

However, the attempt by the government appears to be determined to continue this practice at whatever cost and detriment to the economy, to perpetuate a practice foisted on the people by unscrupulous officials, and thereby try and pretend that the gas queues are over. This has been achieved for the present, thanks to a further loan of $ 70 Million from the World Bank, to import 30,000 tons of LPG recently. Perhaps the daily visuals of the gas queues, that the electronic media took pleasure in broadcasting, may also have pushed the government to this short sighted move.

The other side of the coin is that, before the arrival of this load of LPG, while the empty cylinders remained in the queues, the people were absent. No doubt they sought and found alternative means of cooking their meals, albeit with less convenience than using gas. Obviously they would also have been helped in this by the intrepid efforts of many Sri Lankan entrepreneurs who designed and manufactured cooking stoves to use either fuel wood or charcoal, which do not require any dollars.

The novel stoves are yet to be available in adequate numbers in the market, although the manufacturers are running long waiting lists. As such some consumers may have been forced to revert to direct use of fire wood, accepting the disadvantage of smoke and soot. But Sri Lanka has already introduced most acceptable models of cooking stoves to use wood and wood charcoal, devoid of any smoke and soot. These have proved to be acceptable alternatives to the use of gas stoves for the daily cooking needs, even in high rise apartments.

The reality is that the consumers have recognized the fact that the government or the officials cannot be relied upon to provide their essential needs, and their salvation lies in seeking indigenous alternative solutions themselves which have proven to be equally effective.

But shouldn’t this positive change have been noted by the authorities and fostered with the same vigour with which the use of the imported LPG was promoted? What about the media? They diverted their cameras to the petrol and diesel queues, obviously the emerging negative scene of news value.

The officials of the Litro gas company are heard to give assurances of continued supply of LPG in the future, while they admit the loan received is adequate for supplies up to October only. According to their web page their customer base exceeds 4,000,000. The consumption in 2020 was 437,000 tons, purchased at a cost of $ 236 Million. By now it would exceed 450,000 tons annually. How far would the $ 70 Million loan go at present day gas prices? What happens next? Are they hoping to get yet another loan, when the Ministry of Power and Energy is forced to restrict the issue of essential transport fuels to a minimum, due to lack of dollars? Isn’t this a willful deception of the consumers?

Therefore, the discerning consumers are well advised to consider the following points in their decision making for the future.

  • = The import of LPG is possible only through loans which will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren
  • = Continued dependence on LPG is a never ending problem and will need more and more loans with no chance of the LPG used leading to any foreign exchange earnings
  • = The loans taken have to be repaid by the entire country ,while the benefit is enjoyed by only a limited section of the society, which is morally unacceptable
  • = For those fortunate to get even a cylinder of LPG, adopting the already available options of stoves using either charcoal or wood , for the cooking of the main meals , would substantially reduce the monthly expenditure as shown below. This would preserve the LPG cylinder bought with difficulty, to be available for any limited usage in between and for any emergencies for many months
  • = The consumers can be the drivers of the change which would reduce the demand for LPG and thus save the country millions of dollars year after year
  • = This would create a significant indigenous industry whereby the millions of dollars sent out would flow to the local industrialists and rural communities supplying the charcoal and wood. Even a 50% reduction of the imports could result in a local industry worth over Rs 80 Billion annually.

These are indeed practical and worthwhile contributions to resolve a national problem. Are each of us ready to commit to extend the use of our LPG cylinder to last several months, thereby reducing the demand to 50% or even to 25% in the coming year? This should be considered a national duty by all of us.

Just to assuage any fears of deforestation, contrary to popular belief, Sri Lanka already has adequate renewable and sustainable biomass resources formally counted as over 12,000,000 tons annually, contributing to 50% of the total primary energy demand. Simultaneously, a practical program of social reforestation has to be encouraged where the user of charcoal, plants wherever he can, plants trees to compensate for the charcoal he uses. In this way the next generation will also be assured of their own sustainable supply with absolutely no impact on the forest cover. A plant that can be recommended is Gliricidia Sepium among others, which can be harvested in two years, and thereafter every eight months.

(The writer is past president of the Bio Energy Association of Sri Lanka www.bioenergysrilanka.lk
Email: parajayasinghe@gmail.com)

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