Not for Him, But for Us
Kade Yaama is an idiomatic expression that is now added to popular
Sinhala parlance. It literally means ‘going to the market on behalf of
someone or action taken to please someone’. It also can mean to be
uncritically following another’s way. I recently heard a few well-known
and respected Sinhala music, theatre and film personalities say “Api
katawath kade giyeth ne, yanneth ne.
Api kade yanne ape rata wenuwen vitharai” This was on telecasts of
election rallies, where they rallied in support of the incumbent
President and it means “We have never before spoken and will not speak
up for anyone at anyone’s instigation, but will only do it in support of
Never before have I seen such wide spectrum of personalities, some of
whom I personally know and believe are very independent in their
thinking, take on the role of speaking on behalf of a single political
leader. The last, I remember of a somewhat similar instance is the
support a section of the artistic community had for Late President
Premadasa and the various good deeds he performed for the benefit of
this otherwise neglected ‘elite’ of our society. The Tower Hall
Foundation, special housing schemes and old-age support program were
Hearts and minds
Mahinda Rajapaksa being greeted by artistes. Courtesy: ANCL
What I witness today is seen as an even more significant movement by
the artistic community, ignited not merely by deeds performed on their
behalf but through a genuine concern for our Motherland, its indigenous
cultural values and her future well-being. Today, there is genuine
effort to provide State-sponsorship for the development of artistic
creativity, which was glaringly absent during some earlier regimes of
governance. More so, there is an understanding and appreciation by the
leadership of the power of the arts in nation building, especially in
bringing hearts and minds of various communities together.
In focusing on the support of the artistic community, I am here not
referring to the campaign on TV unleashed by Tarunayata Hetak (A
tomorrow for youth) where a cross-section of popular idols and
personalities, also call on us citizens, under that program banner, to
vote for a leader with proven experience and capability to ensure a
better future for the country, without specific reference to any
What I refer to are voluntary deeds of artists and creative
personalities, who were known for their independent stances, now
venturing to speak directly to the hearts and minds of the people at
election rallies in support of President Rajapaksa.
We also see several of those who on earlier occasions had supported
political parties in the opposing alliance, now campaigning for the
incumbent President as well.
Much in touch
Creative people and the intelligentsia of a nation are usually known
to be elite groups in society that stretch their critical faculties
most. They are also much in touch with society at large and strongly
feel its pulse. We have seen how plays such as Hunuwataye Kathawa (an
Henry Jayasena of Betolt Brecht’s ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’);
Apata Puthe Magak Nathe (Son, we have no way out) of Sugathapala de
Silva; Eka Adipathy (Him the Dictator) of Dharmasiri Bandaranayake; and
films such as Gamini Fonseka’s Koti Valigaya; Dharmasena Pathiraja’s
Soldadu Unnahe; Prasanna Vithanage’s Pura Handa Kaluwara, Sunil
Ariyaratne’s Sarungale and other works on the national question and song
lyrics calling for social justice, the Master Premasiri Kemadasa/Nanda
Malini symphonic presentation of Sathyaye Geethaya (Song of Truth),
Jayantha Chandrasiri’s Guerrilla Marketing, G.K. Hatthotuwegama’s Street
Theatre group plays and many other land mark presentations in several
other forms of art, had brought out artistically analytical and
immensely creative presentations of burning issues, in the past.
I got thinking as to why, these mature and thinking change-agents
among our creative community are not convinced by moves calling for a
‘change’, with corruption and nepotism as the central theme?
Were they, if at all doubting the validity of these claims, where
both sides seem to accuse each other, some with evidence and others
without to substantiate them? Were they, like most of us, of the thought
that rumours we hear are stating the obvious, for there has been
corruption in governance during all regimes in Sri Lanka since the
1980s, which has grown like a potent cancer that needs to be removed
altogether? Are they like most, not directly attributing it to the
incumbent President who with years of service in politics has not been
accused of such acts before?
Are they of the belief that he had his hands full, performing an act
of political tightrope walking during his first term, while also
maintaining focus on fighting a difficult war? Do they hold the view
that the President, with proven management prowess he displayed in
overcoming the challenge of defeating the LTTE, has what it takes to
also take on a change process, to set in place a regime of good
governance during the second term he is seeking?
Do they have faith in the clarion call he is making for sustainable
and equitable development for the future of our country, in a new
unified environment of governance, where all Sri Lankans will be able to
live with dignity and honour?
Cut and paste
We all know that there is so much to be desired about our structures
and people in governance. It also extends to the non-partisan nature and
quality of vigilance exercised by our civil society as well.
In the most recent communique issued as a policy statement, by the
main opposing camp, American President Obama’s election campaign theme
of a year ago of ‘Change we can believe in’ has been cut and pasted as
the title, translated verbatim as ‘Visvansaneeya Venasak’.
Although, most of the youth and the creative community in the USA did
support President Obama in this campaign and the campaign theme was
relevant to what was happening in the US at the time, we need to pay
greater attention to the contextual differences we have in the two
situations, before we can talk of ‘Change we can believe in’.
Our call now
What is the change that is called for, that we as Sri Lankans have
not seen happen this far? Is it that we have not seen an end to a near
30 years of a reign of terror, where people of a single nation could not
live as brothers and sisters in unity with dignity?
Is it because, there is an attempt at developing a sustainable
economy with special focus on affected and neglected regions, so we
could not be entirely dependent on global market fluctuations? Is it
because there is a revival of an inclusive nationalism with a sense of
pride in being Sri Lankan, starkly in contrast to indulging blindly in
negative pursuits of the lumpen elements of the dominant global culture?
Have we not as a nation, had enough in long and short spells of
instability and mayhem? For almost 30 years, we lived in constant fear,
under LTTE’s reign of terror.
Young lives with promising futures were lost in misguided rebellion
at different times in our recent history. We have seen our leaders and
members of the media slain in vain. The challenge before us now, as
right thinking citizens, is to rally together to rebuild our nation with
the Rule of Law prevailing at all times.
A leader with proven skills and experience is making a call on us, to
give him a mandate just to do that. He does not claim he is perfect or
all has been well in the past. From most of what he says and does, like
the artistic community we also feel, that he means well.
It is up to us now to determine if we heed that call or get back
again to an era of uncertainty, instability and insecurity.
We must indeed do the right thing, not for him, but for us and for
the future of our nation.