The legacy of freedom people experienced in Sri Lanka for more than 2000 years was threatened by the European colonizers. The Sri Lankans resisted the European colonizers for more than 300 years. The independence of Sri Lanka was confined to the Central and mountain regions of the island. The coastal areas were ruled by the colonizers.
It was in 1815 that the British could take over the whole island. They used the policy of divide and rule and bribe the leaders of the natives to weaken the kingdom. This paved the way for the British to take over the whole island. The last king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was a Tamil king. He ruled and resisted the British for 17 years. It was very easy to use the differences in culture and language to divide and weaken Sri Lanka. This policy yet prevails in the rule of Sri Lanka.
The People of Uva-Wellassa had an experience in defeating the colonizers who came to conquer them. They were pioneers of guerilla warfare. When their paddy lands were taken over, cattle destroyed, paddy looted, villages burnt, women raped and children killed the people revolted. This made the whole nation to unite to fight the British. The natives of Sri Lanka were not ready to compromise the country’s freedom with any other. The only strength they had was the faith in freedom and unity of the natives.
It was very easy to use the differences in culture and language to divide and weaken Sri Lanka. This policy yet prevails in the rule of Sri Lanka
Britain was an industrial country. It had all the possessions of the colonies, modern weapons and an experience in colonizing countries. It was not a battle of equals. The natives gave a bitter fight. In the process of September-November 1818, ten thousand natives lost their lives while only 678 lives were lost of the colonizers.( Dr. Davy, Henry Marshall) The natives couldn’t face the massacre and had to retreat.
The Uva-Wellassa resistance kept a heroic legacy in the peoples minds. The villages of battles and the personal sacrifices are deeply rooted in the peoples minds.
At a time when Sri Lanka is facing grave political turmoil, visiting and recalling the first war of independence is timely.
A series of discussions is organized in Colombo, Kandy and Galle.
23rd Nov 2018 - Public Library, Colombo 3p.m.,
24th Nov 2018 - Sri Pushpadana Hall , Kandy 2p.m.
25th Nov 2018 - International Buddhist Centre, Galle 10 a.m.
A concert comprising dance, drama and music will be held on 25th Nov 2018 at the Vihara Maha Devi park, open air theatre, from 5p.m. onwards. Many leading artistes will perform.
This is organized by the Guitar Association of Sri Lanka, Public Library, Colombo7, Kandurata Monarawila Keppetipola Commemorative Committee and supported by the Department of Cultural Affairs.