How pandemics originate and evolve
By Prof.Kirthi Tennakone
National Institute of Fundamental Studies
History tells us pandemics have devastatingly interrupted civilizations. They killed millions of humans and brought forth misery and poverty, but never wiped out a civilisation. Epidemics and pandemics begin, escalate and wane or re-emerge. However, the causative agent rarely disappears; it opts for a less vicious coexistence. Smallpox is the only epidemically potent disease that has been eliminated absolutely – not via natural processes but by the intervention of human intelligence.
Life has been created by natural forces endowing an essence for it to reproduce and undergo change. We ourselves and the virus exist because of this, which also enables the virus to adapt itself to the environment, survive and expand causing the pandemic. In ancient times, humans had to await the consequences of the same natural forces to face a pandemic – those who remained fit and immune survived and reproduced.
Today, human intelligent intervention makes things more favourable to us than to the virus, and helps many who lack the natural immunity survive. The eventuality of the present pandemic will be determined by the effort we make to combat it.
How pandemics originate
Persian philosopher Ibn Sina was probably the first to conjecture that living entities in the human body caused diseases. Later, Louis Pasteur proved infections occurred when microscopic organisms entered the body and proliferated and those microbes could pass from one individual to another.
Microbes do not emerge spontaneously; nor do they arrive from the sky. They exist everywhere in the environment as creations of biological evolution. Humans, animals and plants harbour them. Microbes associated with a given species, often symbiotic, pose no danger to the host, whose immunity prevents their undue proliferation. They are selective; those present in one species would not easily move to a different type of host and get established. Nevertheless, the complexity of living things allow exceptions. Occasionally a pathogen or innocuous microbes concealed in animals or found in the environment can jump to a human causing diseases.
An illness acquired from an animal is referred to as a zoonotic disease or a zoonosis. Sometimes, the zoonosis turns out be contagious. Almost all calamitous epidemics and pandemics have arisen from accidental transfer of a bacteria or a virus from an animal species to humans and subsequent evolution- their origin is zoonotic. Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and COVID-19 are zoonotic diseases. The zoonotic infections such as plague, smallpox, measles and swine flu caused first magnitude pandemics in the past.
Ebola Virus Disease: near pandemic situation 2014-2016
A previously unknown sickness broke out near the Ebola River in Congo in 1976, killing almost 80% of persons who contracted it. The cause of the disease, subsequently named Ebola, was found to be a virus endemically associated with bats. Although the virus does no harm to the bats, when transferred to humans via contact during hunting, a fatal condition, similar to a flu occurs. The exposure to body fluids of the infected persons passes the disease to the community. The Ebola outbreak 2014-2016, spread across West Africa. Some cases were also reported in Europe and the United States.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS): The older cousins of COVID-19
Coronaviruses with crown like spikes on the surface exist everywhere. Until early 2000s, they were not considered a threat to humans. In 2002, a new contagious respiratory disease, SARS, emerged in China and spread rapidly to several other countries. International corporation; coordinated by WHO quickly elucidated the nature of the condition. The cause of the disease was identified to be a virus harboured by some bats, transferred to humans by palm civets. Handling civet cat meat in wet markets is believed to have caused the transmission of the pathogen to humans. The epidemic was effectively controlled by isolation of infected persons, use of masks, protective equipment, physical distancing and thermal sensing of passengers in airports. In July 2003, WHO declared SARS had been contained.
Another respiratory viral disease MERS first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 crossed continents due to air travel. The second major MERS outbreak occurred in South Korea in 2015. Compared to SARS, MERS is more virulent but less contagious, and spreads through close contacts of infected persons. The origin of MERS virus is zoonotic, bats being the primary source and camels the intermediate which transferred the pathogen to humans. The virus may have undergone genetic change in camels facilitating its adaptation to humans.
How pandemics evolve
Pandemics and epidemics begin when an infectious agent enters a community possessing no immunity to resist. A tragic example is measles epidemic in Fiji. In 1875, an Australian delegation carried the virus to the island whose natives were never exposed to the measles – a disease quite common in Asia and Europe. In a matter of months 30 percent of the population died!
Zoonotic viruses are particularly dangerous because humans are not exposed to them at the beginning. The absence of immunity allowed an epidemic in one locality to expand as a pandemic. Furthermore, when a virus originally found in an animal, genetically and associatively distant from humans, is harboured in an intermediate host closer to humans, some genetic intermingling could occur via processes referred to as recombination and re-assortment. This way, the virus acquires a foreignness needed to evade the human immune response and a kinship favourable for adaptation. Domesticated animals sometimes carry viruses originally derived from humans but genetically modified. A virus found in a wild animal co-infecting a domesticated one can copy genetic information from the latter producing a new kind of virus, adaptable to humans and also withstand host immunity.
The origin of the virus causing COVID-19 named SARS-Cov-2 has been traced to a bat species. The genetic make-up of SARS-Cov-2 tally nearly 95 percent with a virus found in so-called horseshoe bats. It is not conclusive whether the virus passed directly from a bat to humans or through an intermediate host. There exists no evidence to support the conspiracy theories that the virus leaked from a laboratory. Finding out how the virus came into being would shed light on how to control it effectively.
Once a pathogen enters a population devoid of immunity, the number of infected people begins to expand exponentially at a rate proportional to the population density reaching a peak. Thereafter, because of the decrease of susceptible persons owing to acquisition of immunity and deaths, the disease wanes.
Mathematical models predict above behaviour and point to the important concept of the effective reproduction number of a progressing epidemic. Effective reproduction number (RE) is the average number of people who acquire the infection from one infected individual at a given time. The idea of reproduction number was first introduced by the British Physician Ronald Ross, who took up mathematics to find a way to eradicate malaria. Ross showed that in order to control an epidemic RE needed to be kept below one. His suggestions for doing this paved the way for the eradication of malaria epidemics in Sri Lanka. In the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China RE has been in the range 3-5. Control measures such as physical distancing, wearing masks and isolation reduce RE, but the issue is reducing the number further to reach values below one. The mode of evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic is complicated by human migration by imposition and withdrawal of preventive measures.
Transmissibility and virulence
The virus is not after vengeance to be noxiously virulent and kill as many as possible; evolution in that direction renders no advantage because if a large majority of infected persons die, the virus will be deprived of hosts to feed on and reproduce.
The probability that someone will catch the infection from an infected person depends on the rate and quantity of the pathogen transmitted. A severe infection produces larger progeny of viruses; this has some advantage to the virus. Generally, pathogens compromise between transmissibility and virulence giving a higher weightage to the former. The transmissibility of COVID-19 is high because the infected shred the virus before symptoms fully develop. Contrastingly, in case of SARS; the infected release the pathogen at later stages when symptoms are readily identifiable enabling isolation; this is the main reason why SARS was contained and the COVID-19 transmission continues.
The virus aggressively attacking elderly and sparing younger could also be an advantage to the virus. Severely sick elderly patients release larger quantities of virus, infecting the younger who take care of them. The younger move about and infect others. The virus wants to procreate and exploits everything possible for that purpose!
Variations of the virus
Zoonotic viruses undergo major genetic changes via recombination or re-assortment and adapt to human system. Mutations enable them to fine-tune the traits favourable for adaptation by small genetic adjustments. When viruses replicate, their genetic code is sometimes copied erroneously, resulting in random variations. The process is analogous to typographical errors you make when you retype your essay. Even if you retype thousand times, you would not expect to find an improved version of the essay as result of random typographical errors. However, when a virus replicate trillions of times; a more adaptable one may originate and replicate endlessly – these are new strains of the virus. Recently, more contagious strains have been found to proliferate in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. The British Prime Minister announced that the variant identified in his country seemed to be more virulent.
Convergent evolution of strains
The three strains of the virus (United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa) seemed to have evolved independently. Yet, all the three variants have undergone similar changes in the spike protein, enabling the virus to attach to host cells more strongly; this is essential for efficient spreading. The qualities acquired indicate that mutations have got selected for the definite purpose of convergence to the same cause – to spread the disease fast.
Convergent evolution is quite common in nature. A prototypical example is the near identical streamlined body shapes of the shark and the dolphin. Shark is classified as a primitive fish, whereas the dolphin has been an evolutionarily modern four-legged mammal that lived on land adapted to the ocean. Both shark and dolphin independently evolved towards the optimum hydrodynamic body features to be able to swim fast.
Future of the Present Pandemic and Future Pandemics
It is too early to determine the degree of effectiveness of existing vaccines to new and emerging strains. Fortunately, some vaccines can be easily reprogrammed to provide immunity to new strains. The world will soon acquire the arsenal of weapons needed to fight it. Efficacious vaccines have been demonstrated, and many are in the pipeline. Antiviral drug research progresses although to date there exist no cure for COVID-19. The virtues of physical distancing, wearing masks, contact tracing and isolation are gaining acceptance. Hopefully wide vaccinations programmes and strict adherence to preventive measures will help subdue the pandemic; a concerted effort is imperative. As pointed out in the editorial The Island editorial of 21st January 2021 ensuring equitable access to vaccines is an urgency. This the factor determining what lies ahead and how the pandemic will halt.
Doing the needful forthwith is prudent because given sufficient time the virus might mutate in response to a single political decision implemented somewhere, irrespective of the geographical location.
The other issue would be the emergence of new pandemics in the future – most likely those of zoonotic origin. During the past two decades many such diseases have surfaced. Excessive interference with environment; clearing forests, maintaining millions of farm animals in unnatural conditions and climate change resulting from burning fossil fuels probably contribute this dangerous trend.
When humankind turns cruel to animals, destroy flora and engender environment, the return could be a pandemic!
What JVP-NPP needs to do to win
By Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
A young academic at the Open University writing on a popular website has recently defined the NPP project as ‘Left populist’, a term which is very familiar to us at least from the writings of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. He also mentions several parallels and precursors internationally.
As one who has been advocating a ‘left populist’ project for years, I am disinclined to nit-pick about whether or not the JVP-NPP fits the bill. At the moment and in its current incarnation, it is indeed the closest we have to a ‘left populist’ project. Its competitor the SJB, which its founder-leader identifies as social democratic, would be as approximate –and as loose– a fit for the labels ‘progressive populist’, ‘moderate populist’ or ‘populist centrist’, as the JVP-NPP is for ‘left populist’. But that’s the deck of cards we have.
The points I seek to make are different, and may be said to boil down to a single theme or problematique.
Distorted Left Populism
My argument is that the JVP-NPP is as distant from ‘left populism’ globally as it was from ‘left revolutionism’ globally in an earlier incarnation. In both avatars, it is unique in its leftism but not in a positive or helpful way for its cause at any given time.
Mine is not intended as a damning indictment of the JVP-NPP. It is intended as a constructive criticism of a rectifiable error, the rectification of which is utterly urgent given the deadly threat posed by the Wickremesinghe administration and its project of dependent dictatorship.
The JVP-NPP has a structural absence that no ‘left populist’ enterprise, especially in Latin America, has ever had. It is an absence that has marked the JVP from its inception and has been carried over into the present NPP project.
It is not an absence unique to the JVP but figures more in Sri Lanka than it has almost anywhere else. I say this because the same ‘absence’ characterised the LTTE as well. In short, that factor or its radical absence has marred the anti-systemic forces of South and North on the island.
The homeland of left populism has been Latin America while its second home has been Southern Europe. With the exception of Greece, it may be said that ‘left populism’ has an Ibero-American or culturally Hispanic character, which some might trace to the ‘romanticism’ of that culture. But such considerations need not detain us here.
‘Left populism’ has had several identifiable sources and points of departure: the former guerrilla movements of the 1960s and 1970s; the non-guerrilla movements of resistance to dictatorships; parties and split-offs from parties of the Marxist left; left-oriented split-offs or the leftwing of broad flexible even centrist populist formations; leftwing experiments from within the militaries etc.
Populism, Pluralism & Unity
Despite this diversity, all experiments of a Left populist character in Latin America and Europe, have had one thing in common: various forms of unity – e.g., united fronts, blocs etc.—of political parties. I would take up far too much space if I were to list them, starting with the Frente Amplio (which means precisely ‘Broad Front’) initiated by the Tupamaros-MLN of Uruguay and containing the Uruguayan Communist party and headed by a military man, General Liber Seregni, in 1970. The Frente Amplio lasted through the decades of the darkest civil-military dictatorship up to the presidential electoral victories of Tabaré Vasquez and Mujica respectively. Another example would be El Salvador’s FMLN, which brought together several Marxist guerrilla movements into a single front under the stern insistence of Fidel Castro.
Though the roots of unity were back in the 1970s, the formula has only been strengthened in the 1990s and 21st century projects of Left populism. There is a theoretical-strategic logic for this. The polarisation of ‘us vs them’, the 99% vs. the 1%, the many not the few—in socioeconomic terms—is of course a hallmark of populism. But pro-NPP academics and ideologues are unaware of or omit its corollary everywhere from Uruguay to Greece and Spain. Namely, that socioeconomic ‘majoritarianism’ is not possible with a single party as agency.
When the JVP and the NPP have the same leader, and the JVP leader was the founder of the NPP, I cannot regard it as a truly autonomous project, but a party project. Left populism globally, from its inception right up to Lula last year, is predicated on the admission of political, not just social plurality, and the fact that socioeconomic, i.e., popular majoritarianism is possible only as a pluri-party united front, platform or bloc.
This recognition of the imperative of unity as necessitating a convergence of political fractions and currents; that unity is impossible as a function of a single political party; that authentic majoritarianism i.e., “us” is possible only if “we” converge and combine as an ensemble of our organic political agencies, is a structural feature of Left Populism.
It is radically absent in the JVP-NPP and has been so from the JVP’s founding in 1965. It was also true of the LTTE.
It is this insistence on political unipolarity (to put it diplomatically) or political monopoly (to put it bluntly) is a genetic defect of the JVP which has been carried over into the NPP project.
I do not say this to contest the leading role and the main role that the JVP has earned in any left populist project. I say it to draw the Gramscian distinction between ‘leadership’ and ‘domination’. Only ‘leadership’ can create consensus and popular consent; domination through monopoly cannot.
The simple truth is that however ‘left populist’ you think you are; no single party can be said to represent the people or even a majority – as distinct from a mere plurality– of the people. Furthermore, the people are not a unitary subject, and therefore cannot have a unitary leadership. This is the importance of Fidel Castro’s insistence to the Latin American Left of a ‘united command’ which brings together the diverse segments of the left by reflecting plurality.
Anyone who knows the history of Syriza and Podemos knows that they are not outcrops of some single party of long-standing but the result of an organic process of convergences of factions.
Had the JVP had a policy of united fronts – within the Southern left and with the Northern left– it would not have been as decisively defeated as it was in its two insurrections, and might have even succeeded in its second attempt. Though it has formed the NPP which has brought some significant success, it is still POLITICALLY sectarian in that it has no political alliances, partnerships, i.e., NO POLITICAL RELATIONSHIPS outside of itself.
I must emphasize that here I am not speaking of a bloc with the SJB, though it is most desirable, to be recommended, and if this were Latin America would definitely be on the agenda of discussion.
Let us speak frankly. The most important phenomenon of recent times (since the victorious end of the war) was the Aragalaya of last year. The JVP, especially its student front the SYU, participated in that massive uprising which dislodged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but it played a less decisive role in the Aragalaya than did the FSP and the IUSF which is close to it. This is by no means to say that the FSP led the Aragalaya, but to point out that it played a more decisive role – which included some mistakes– than did the JVP.
How then does one remain blind to the fact that the JVP-NPP’s ‘left populism’ does not include the FSP and by extension the IUSF? How can there be a ‘popular bloc’ – a key element of left populism—without the IUSF?
Given that Pubudu Jayagoda, Duminda Nagamuwa, Lahiru Weerasekara and Wasantha Mudalige are among the most successful public communicators today (especially on the left), what kind of ‘left’ is a ‘left populism’ devoid of their presence, participation and contribution?
What does it take to recognise that unity of some sort of these two streams of the Left could result in a most useful division of labour and a quantum leap in the hopes and morale of the increasingly left-oriented post-Aragalaya populace, especially the youth?
Surely the very sight of a platform with the leaders of the JVP-NPP and the FSP-IUSF (AKD and Kumar Gunaratnam, Eranga Gunasekara and Wasantha Mudalige, Wasantha Samarasinghe and Duminda Nagamuwa, Bimal Ratnayake and Pubudu Jayagoda) will take the Left populist project to the next level?
As a party the JVP from its birth, and by extension, the NPP today, have set aside one of the main weapons of leftist theory, strategy and political practice: the United Front. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Dimitrov, Gramsci, Togliatti, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro have founded and enriched this strategic concept.
It is difficult to accept that Rohana Wijeweera and Anura Kumara Dissanayake knew/know better than these giants, and that the JVP-NPP can dispense with this political sword and shield and yet prevail–or even survive the coming storm.
The JVP must present a LEFT option in the leadership of which is the major shareholder; not merely a JVP option or para-JVP option, which is what the NPP is. A credible, viable Left alternative cannot be reduced to a single party and its front/auxiliary; it cannot but be a United Left – a Left Front– alternative.
[Dr Dayan Jayatilleka is author of The Great Gramsci: Imagining an Alt-Left Project, in ‘On Public Imagination: A Political & Ethical Imperative’ eds Richard Falk et al, Routledge, New York, 2019.]
Obtaining fresh mandate unavoidable requirement
by Jehan Perera
The government’s plans for reviving the economy show signs of working out for the time being. The long-awaited IMF loan is about to be granted. This would enable the government to access other loans to tide over the current economic difficulties. The challenge will be to ensure that both the old loans and new ones will be repayable. To this end the government has begun to implement its new tax policy which increases the tax burden significantly on income earners who can barely make ends meet, even without the taxes, in the aftermath of the rise in price levels. The government is also giving signals that it plans to downsize the government bureaucracy and loss-making state enterprises. These are reforms that may be necessary to balance the budget, but they are not likely to gain the government the favour of the affected people. The World Bank has warned that many are at risk of falling back into poverty, with 40 percent of the population living on less than 225 rupees per person per day.
The problem for the government is that the economic policies, required to stabilize the economy, are not popular ones. They are also politically difficult ones. The failure to analyse the past does not help us to ascertain reasons for our failures and also avoids taking action against those who had misused, or damaged, the system unfairly. The costs of this economic restructuring, to make the country financially viable, is falling heavily, if not disproportionately, on those who are middle class and below. Fixed income earners are particularly affected as they bear a double burden in being taxed at higher levels, at a time when the cost of living has soared. Unlike those in the business sector, and independent professionals, who can pass on cost increases to their clients, those in fixed incomes find it impossible to make ends meet. Emigration statistics show that over 1.2 million people, or five percent of the population, left the country, for foreign employment, last year.
The economic hardships, experienced by the people, has led to the mobilization of traditional trade unions and professionals’ organisations. They are all up in arms against the government’s income generation, at their expense. Last week’s strike, described as a token strike, was successful in that it evoked a conciliatory response from the government. Many workers did not keep away from work, perhaps due to the apprehension that they might not only lose their jobs, but also their properties, as threatened by one government member, who is close to the President. There was a precedent for this in 1981 when the government warned striking workers that they would be sacked. The government carried out its threat and over 40,000 government officials lost their jobs. They and their families were condemned to a long time in penury. The rest of society went along with the repression as the government was one with an overwhelming mandate from the people.
The striking unions have explained their decision to temporarily discontinue their strike action due to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s willingness to reconsider their economic grievances. More than 40 trade unions, in several sectors, joined the strike. They explained they had been compelled to resort to strike action as there was no positive response from the government to their demands. Due to the strike, services such as health, posts, and railways were affected. Workers in other sectors, including education, port, power, water supply, petroleum, road development, and banking services, also joined the strike. The striking unions have said they would take up the President’s offer to discuss their concerns with the government and temporarily called a halt to their strike action. This would give the government an opportunity to rethink its strategy. Unlike the government in 1981 this one has no popular mandate. In the aftermath of the protest movement, it has only a legal mandate.
So far, the government has been unyielding in the face of public discontent. Public protests have been suppressed. Protest leaders have been arrested and price and tax hikes have gone ahead as planned. The government has been justifying the rigid positions it has been taking on the basis of its prioritization of economic recovery for which both political stability and financial resources are necessary. However, by refusing to heed public opinion the government has been putting itself on a course of confrontation with organized forces, be they trade unions or political parties. The severity of the economic burden, placed on the larger section of society, even as other sectors of society appear to be relatively unaffected, creates a perception of injustice that needs to be mitigated. Engaging in discussion with the trade unions and reconsidering its approach to those who have been involved in public protests could be peace making gestures in the current situation.
On the other hand, exacerbating the political crisis is the government’s continuing refusal to hold the local government elections, as scheduled, on two occasions now by the Elections Commission and demanded by law. The government’s stance is even in contradiction to the Supreme Court’s directives that the government should release the financial resources necessary for the purpose leading to an ever-widening opposition to it. The government’s determination to thwart the local government elections stems from its pragmatic concerns regarding its ability to fare well at them. Public opinion polls show the government parties obtaining much lower support than the opposition parties. Except for the President, the rest of the government consists of the same political parties and government members that faced the wrath of the people’s movement a year ago and had to resign in ignominy.
The government’s response to the pressures it is under has been to repress the protest movement through police action that is especially intolerant of street protests. It has also put pressure on state institutions to conform to its will, regardless of the law. The decisions of the Election Commission to set dates for the local government elections have been disregarded once, and the elections now appear to have to be postponed yet again. The government is also defying summons upon its ministers by the Human Rights Commission which has been acting independently to hold the government to account to the best extent it can. The government’s refusal to abide by the judicial decision not to block financial resources for election purposes is a blow to the rule of law that will be to the longer-term detriment of the country. These are all negative trends that are recipes for future strife and lawlessness. These would have long term and unexpected implications not to the best for the development of the country or its values.
There are indications that President Wickremesinghe is cognizant of the precariousness of the situation. The accumulation of pressures needs to be avoided, be it for gas at homes or issues in the country. As an experienced political leader, student of international politics, he would be aware of the dangers posed by precipitating a clash involving the three branches of government. A confrontation with the judiciary, or a negation of its decisions, would erode the confidence in the entire legal system. It would damage the confidence of investors and the international community alike in the stability of the polity and its commitment to the rule of law. The public exhortations of the US ambassador with regard to the need to conduct the local government elections would have driven this point home.
It is also likely that the US position on the importance of holding elections on time is also held by the other Western countries and Japan. Sri Lanka is dependent on these countries, still the wealthiest in the world, for its economic sustenance, trade and aid, in the form of concessional financing and benefits, such as the GSP Plus tariff concession. Therefore, the pressures coming from both the ground level in the country and the international community, may push the government in the direction of elections and seeking a mandate from the people. Strengthening the legitimacy of the government to govern effectively and engage in problem solving in the national interest requires an electoral mandate. The mandate sought may not be at the local government level, where public opinion polls show the government at its weakest, but at the national level which the President can exercise at his discretion.
Sing-along… Down Memory Lane
Sing-alongs have turned out to be hugely popular, in the local showbiz scene, and, I would say, it’s mainly because they are family events, and also the opportunity given to guests to shine, in the vocal spotlight, for a minute, or two!
I first experienced a sing-along when I was invited to check out the famous Rhythm World Dance School sing-along evening.
It was, indeed, something different, with Sohan & The X-Periments doing the needful, and, today, Sohan and his outfit are considered the No.1 band for sing-along events.
I’m told that the first ever sing-along concert, in Sri Lanka, was held on 27th April, 1997, and it was called Down Memory Lane (DML), presented by the Moratuwa Arts Forum (MAF),
The year 2023 is a landmark year for the MAF and, I’m informed, they will be celebrating their Silver Jubilee with a memorable concert, on 29th April, 2023, at the Grand Bolgoda Resort, Moratuwa.
Due to the Covid pandemic, their sing-along series had to be cancelled, as well as their planned concert for 2019. However, the organisers say the delayed 25th Jubilee Celebration concert is poised to be a thriller, scheduled to be held on 29th April, 2023.
During the past 25 years, 18 DML concerts had been held, and the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will be the 19th in the series.
Famous, and much-loved, ‘golden oldies’, will be sung by the audience of music lovers, at this two and a half hours programme.
Down Memory Lane was the brainchild of musician Priya Peiris, (of ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Do’ fame) and the MAF became the pioneers of sing-along concerts in Sri Lanka.
The repertoire of songs for the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will include a vast selection of international favourites, Cowboy and old American Plantation hits, Calypsos, Negro Spirituals, everybody’s favourites, from the ’60s and ’70s era, Sinhala evergreens, etc.
Singers from the Moratuwa Arts Forum will be on stage to urge the audience to sing. The band Echo Steel will provide the musical accompaniment for the audience to join in the singing, supported by Brian Coorey, the left handed electric bass guitarist, and Ramany Soysa on grand piano.
The organisers say that every participant will get a free songbook. There would also be a raffle draw, with several prizes to be won,
Arun Dias Bandaranaike will be the master of ceremonies.
President of the Moratuwa Arts Forum, Melantha Perera, back from Australia, after a successful tour, says: “All music lovers, especially Golden Oldies enthusiasts, are cordially invited to come with their families, and friends, to have an enjoyable evening, and to experience heartwarming fellowship and bonhomie.”
Further details could be obtained from MAF Treasurer, Laksiri Fernando (077 376 22 75).
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