A few days ago I was greeted with the good news that the new government of Sri Lanka lifted the ban on the national anthem being sung in Tamil. My joy was disturbed by certain statuses I saw on Facebook that undermined this positive move. So here I am, inspired to write a blog, because I was shocked and mostly heartbroken that almost 5 years after the war, there are still people with racist views. So why should the national anthem also be in Tamil?
Firstly, it’s about time, because the Sri Lankan government embarked on their journey towards reconciliation with the LLRC report been published, and this move is taking us ever closer to achieving this goal. It is a move that shows the Tamil people that Sri Lanka belongs to them as much as it does to the Sinhalese. It is also a symbol of moving forward in unity, as one people, despite race or religion – we are all Sri Lankan.
One of the arguments of the people who don’t agree with the national anthem being sung in Tamil, is that, if other countries like India, UK, USA are not doing this, then why should Sri Lanka? So in reply to that, firstly we cannot begin to compare ourselves to USA or UK. Taking the example of the UK, despite England, Scotland, Whales and Northern Ireland all being part of the “united” – they all have their own national anthems. Added to that, being home to many different types of Ethnic minorities they don’t need to have their anthem in all these different languages, because although they are ‘British’, they are not ‘English’. Tamil’s on the other hand, are Sri Lankan and they are the people of Sri Lanka as much as the Sinhalese are – they are not immigrants.
The point is that, we are on the other side of a brutal war, and despite how the war ended or other politics involved with it, declaring that the Tamil language is as important as the Sinhala language is a step in the right direction, and an indication of truce. In fact, taking South Africa as an example, they have their national anthem in 5 different languages and that doesn’t cause any issues for anyone. It is home to various tribes and races representative of South Africa’s rich diversity, and no they are not immigrants, therefore it makes sense to have national anthems that are reflective of this. Likewise, Sri Lanka is also diverse in the different races that all represent what it is to be Sri Lankan. Therefore a national anthem that reflects Sri Lanka’s diversity is a step in the right direction.
So, again I ask you, why should it be a problem for us that we are embracing our Tamil brothers and sisters – and giving them the right to sing their national anthem with pride in a language they understand, and a language that they are proud of?