At Sri Lanka’s independence: How ‘Independent’ are former Colonies
As we approach what we are told is to be our ‘independence’ day it is good to ponder exactly how independent we are and what we connote to mean as being an independent nation. Are we to celebrate the symbolism of being called a ‘sovereign’ nation or do we feel and act as one? More importantly to feel independent we must know from what we became independent from. Essentially the cruelty that our people suffered under the tyrannical rule of the 3 colonial invaders has never been given due publicity by even post-independent leaders. None have so far wished to reverse the discriminations suffered by the majority race and none of the leaders have sought to return all that was confiscated when power was ceded. This questions, how many are truly aware of the history of the nation before colonial conquest and how many are proud of the heritage and heroes of pre-colonial Sri Lanka? It is only in feeling a sense of belonging, a sense of pride in one’s nation that inspires us to want to protect the nation from foes (local or foreign). How many of us truly feel the nation is ours to truly protect and defend?
Humans evolved from apelike status approximately 6million years ago in Africa. People are said to have walked on two legs over 4million years ago. Fossils found are evidence. Early humans first migrated out of Africa into Asia probably between 2 million and 1.8 million years ago. The beginnings of agriculture and the rise of the first civilizations occurred within the past 12,000 years.
Church & State acted hand in hand
Once upon a time nations were independent in the true sense of the word. What needs to be clearly established is that countries prevailed, people lived in them and nations existed (though not in name) far before the Church and Colonial crusaders were ordered to declare them ‘Discovered’ and ‘Christianize’ them into submission.
These inhabited countries followed their own customs, traditions, laws, and cultures and had their own systems of governance. They lived off what they grew and there were no chants of ‘rights’ ‘freedoms’ etc. Life was simple and uncomplicated. All that changed when the Catholic Church inaugurated a major effort to spread its faith. The Papal edicts issued by the Roman Catholic Church changed the lives of millions of indigenous natives and their lands. Territories and boundaries were redrawn separating families from each other. Tribes were divided new nations were created with the West Christening them under names convenient to them.
The edict issued by Pope Urban II in 1095 “Terra Nullius’ ordered Kings and Queens of Europe to ‘discover’ or claim non-Christian lands. The edict issued in 1452 “Dum Diversas’ declared war against non-Christians, authorizing conquests of their nations and territories, non-Christians were declared uncivilized and to be treated as subhuman without rights to land or nation (despite living in them for centuries before arrival of the European invaders). The 1455 “Romanus Pontifex’ edict and the 1493 ‘Inter Caetera’ decree were orders by the Pope to convert natives of non-Christian lands to Catholicism in order to strengthen the ‘Christian Empire’. Manifest Destiny introduced by John L ‘O Sullivan in 1845 was nothing other than another name for Doctrine of Discovery to defend US expansionism. All expansionism was tied to and remains tied to the continuance on the Church notion that whites held natural rights to expand their domination on the pretext of spreading ‘freedom and democracy’.
Thus, there was no ‘Discovery’ of America by Columbus for there are documented instances of Black Egyptians led by King Ramses III in 1292BC sailing and settling in the Americas. In 445BC, Greek historian Herodotus had written of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs great seafaring and navigational skills. American historian and linguist, Leo Weiner of Harvard University quotes from Columbus himself “black skinned people had come from the south-east in boats, trading in gold-tipped spears.” Thus not only did people live in the Americas, seafaring from Africa to the Americas took place long before the Europeans took sail. Some western historians are refusing to accept this claiming that seafaring was a European monopoly. This history needs to be corrected. Highlighting the false ‘discovery’ of Americas by Columbus further is the civilization of the Olmecs (African) of 1200 BC, a civilization that prevailed far before Incas, Aztecs and the Maya. Ancient African historian Professor Van Sertima has illustrated how Olmecs were the first Mesoamerican civilization to use a written language, sophisticated astronomy, arts and mathematics and they built the first cities in Mexico, all of which greatly influenced the Mayans and subsequent civilizations in the Americas. This again questions the ‘inventor’ rights given to Europeans when possibly these were all invented by non-Europeans far before they ‘discovered’ these nations and it was Africa that ‘civilized’ the America’s far before the Europeans claimed credit for it. Not many Western text books will acknowledge that even inventions and discoveries were already invented though the White Europeans have taken credit for them.
Not many text books or Western history will cover the crimes committed by either the Church or the colonial invaders. Crimes in the name of the Church for disbelievers of Christianity run into millions. The Crusades killed over 1million, the Inquisition led again to millions cruelly put to death, another million were killed accused of witch-hunting, Rudolph J. Rummel estimates that 14 million native North and South Americans were killed by Europeans. He also estimates 17m Africans to have been killed. The Church refused to excommunicate Catholics involved in the Holocaust and the Church did the same in Rwanda in 1994 (90% of Rwandans were Christians). Colonial crimes throughout 500 years of tyrannical rule remains unapologized or compensated.
‘Scramble for Africa’ (1880-1900) was the nomenclature used for the manner Europeans scrambled to divide Africa among themselves and steal its wealth and resources. The Berlin Conference 14 foreign ministers of European nations and the US divided Africa among themselves without so much as inviting the Africans to voice their views. The French dominated most of West Africa, and the British East and Southern Africa. The Belgians acquired the vast territory that became The Congo. The Germans held four colonies, one in each of the realm’s regions. The Portuguese held a small colony in West Africa and two large ones in Southern Africa. That was how democracy was practiced and continues to be. To exploit Congo it is estimated that 10million people were killed. The British adopted a different strategy of discovering how to get locals to act as their agents and do the dirty work of the British. It worked to perfection. There were enough of locals waiting to be servants of the British in exchange for being ‘favored’ above the rest of their own. Over time such people became known as Pukka Sahibs or Kalu Suddas and there are plenty among us still.
The white West thought fit to divide the world into 2 between Spain and Portugal after signing the Treaty of Tordesillas on 7 June 1494. Conquests became ‘discovery’ taking a religious character in the manner that all nations that were not Christian were to be declared as ‘discovered’ and turned into Christian nations. These were direct orders from the Vatican and proved through numerous decrees issued via Papal Bulls that have not been repealed to this date. The moment these truths are brought into the open these facts become automatically shut down by calls of racism and attempts to upset peaceful coexistence. All the while what is happening is that whitecrimes are being shielded and swept under the carpet. Africans have been more vocal but Asians continue to suffer from a weakness to function as slave to the White master as in colonial times.
Thus whether it was Columbus to America or Vasco da Gama’s first East India voyage a decade after 1492 the name of the game was to take over all that belonged to the natives. Thus, the Portuguese, Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, British, French and Germans began a cultural ‘superiority’ presuming themselves to be ‘civilized’ and projected themselves as ‘civilizing the uncivilized’ world that they had found. Civilizing the natives meant stealing all the wealth they could get their hands on. The development done in return was not to provide any relief to the natives but to facilitate the transportation of what they were stealing and for their own comforts while they ‘roughed’ it out trying to civilize uncivilized people. Enough of colonial notes by various Governors and others provide evidence to the ghastly impression that the White rulers had for the people they were ruling over with iron fist. Accounts of killing elephants for sports and watching natives being hung while having breakfast shows the mentality with which these colonials functioned.
Millions of deaths have been caused by both Christian and Islamic rulers who have confiscated lands that did not belong to them. None of these have been held accountable as ‘victors justice’ prevail and international laws are written by them.
Let us also add that it was not only Western Christian imperialism but Islamic expansionism too saw much bloodshed. The sword was enough to convert all non-Islamic nations into followers of Islam and entire continents were declared Islam. The Christian and Islamic expansionist agenda using religion has not abated and both are on track to compete with each other for world domination by numbers while non-Abrahamic religions of Hinduism and Buddhism are bearing the brunt of their agendas. Both have found solace in using ‘gunboat diplomacy’, manipulation of free trade agreements and other means to entice nations to succumb to their agendas. In reality we need to realistically question how free nations really are.
“Europeanization’ of the world has meant a plethora of ideologies thrown to divide people further and provide opportunity to manipulate systems through divisions facilitated by the fact that global economy, banking systems, control of religions, manufacture of arms, intelligence and spying techniques, global supply chain and a host of other key components lie in the hands and control of the same people who decide what to give, when to give, when to hoard, when to be liberal and when to deny as they see fit.
archives.dailynews.lk International law is Eurocentric and Colonial – TIME TO CHANGE
Modern international law traces its roots to 1648 Peace of Westphalia Treaty meant to grant freedom to nations that were originally free but came to be acquired by European powers. International law comprises doctrines and principles developed in Europe and tilts to European history ignoring all laws and cultures that existed before European colonial expansion. Laws were meant to promote Christian faith by civilized nations (European West) now developed after stealing the wealth of the developing ‘uncivilized’ nations. Their racist, biased and discrimination that became the rule of law has been deviously channelled to accuse the victim nations. As we can see the concepts of military intervention, humanitarian intervention and R2P are today applicable only to West’s enemies. The IMF, World Bank are all under control of these Western nations and they ensure that the developing nations of South America, Africa, Asia remain in eternal debt and eternal strife for which they have found multiple means to trigger conflict made possible by following the British strategy of galvanizing local stooges to align to their agenda. Of course even stooges end up enemies as Saddam, Gaddafi and Osama bin Laden found out too late. Whereas nationalist leaders like Aung San of Myanmar and Patrice Lumumba of Congo were put to eternal rest before their nationalism posed a problem to the colonial rulers. Similarly, even those within their own systems who function out of line are also dealt with as UN Secretary General Dag Hammerskjold whose untimely death screams ‘murder’ most foul.
Even the concept of Westphalia and sovereign nation systems are being challenged by introducing further complicated ideologies like self-determination, homeland myths as a means of continuing the desire to put people against each other and benefiting from the outcome.
What we can see if we accept reality is that only non-Europeans/Americans are objects of international law and ‘treaties’ are nothing but sham pieces of paper that suit western hegemony.
Yet, the dynamics is that the First World though functioning as virtual bully and dictator cannot function without the Third World.
Unfortunately, the Third World instead of helping their own have seen fit to cut themselves a disastrous path of putting down their own in order to curry favour with the West.
Whither Sri Lanka’s future
Colonial, imperial rule and mass conversions using Christian missionaries became the norm. Joseph Vaz was one such Christian missionary arriving as a spy to convert masses by force and was rewarded with sainthood – a key step in an effort to harvest souls in Asia. Missionary schools were set up with the projection of inculcating Western discipline, Western Christian culture, attitudes and liberal secular thinking as a long term effort meant to denationalize locals and gradually move their thinking away from nurturing nationalist sentiment that would form a defense against neo-colonial adventures. This was a cultural revolution that was initiated during colonial era which has continued unabated with only a handful of Western-educated natives realizing the gameplan and preferring to put their efforts to protecting the history and heritage of nations that have continued to be flogged ever since Western rulers set foot on non-Christian nations. Yet, education, communication channels (electronic and print), industry and legal structures as well as the dynamics of global politics continues to entice the leaders of the developing world and their cohorts towards continuing to function as agents of the West in no different a manner to how the locals served their colonial masters.
Thus we come to view the 67th independence of Sri Lanka by asking the question how independent is Sri Lanka and from what have we become independent? We can call to mind that it has been the behaviour of our own that have betrayed the nation. There are plenty of Don Juan Dharmapala’s amongst us and leaders intoxicated with power as was Sri Vickrama Rajasinghe a trait suffered by many post-independent rulers. Leader and other kalu suddas with their accent and pretentious western attitude and copy cat western behaviour have been a curse to any nation striving to call itself ‘independent’. What nation can be called independent if it prefers to eternally go running to the West for advice, for templates, plans and methodologies in how to run a nation and helps the West to oust leaders following nationalist agendas. The West and in particular the British have found plenty of ways to divide post-colonial nations – dividing them by ethnicity, by tribes, by political parties, by pitting castes against each other etc and a lot of funds are disbursed to keep these dissent alive. After a honeymoon with their chosen local agents the West will find some way to go against these locals as the new Government are beginning to realize within days of taking over!
If we are truly to believe we are an independent nation, the school curriculum must adjust its history books to show the true story of the manner our people suffered, the agendas that prevail still and our own shortcomings by virtue of the weak stands that have been taken because our own people have chosen to betray the nation for their own selfish ends.
As we approach independence day on 4th February, again we must ask ourselves are we really an independent nation, why are we not and how do we truly become one. It is not a task left to only the ruler and his cabinet but one in which every single citizen requires to play a role in. The first step is to start to appreciate what is ours and not what is foreign to us, the next step is to realize which part of our history is our real history – it is not the history that we are taught to believe started after the colonial conquest and thereafter it is left to us to preserve, protect and foster the history, heritage and culture that existed before it was cruelly snatched and destroyed by those that continue their expansionist agenda which is camouflaged by their media pretending to be democratic and righteous. We must be intelligent enough to not copy what was forcibly and cruelly imposed on us but have the courage to fight for to reverse and preserve whatever is left that is being attempted to be taken away again.
The independence of our nation will come only when we take pride in our pre-colonial history and begin to dictate our destiny and not when it is allowed to be remote controlled from offshore bases.
Shenali D Waduge