I'll start this by setting my stall out; I'm fundamentally against the principles of colonialism. To me, in this day and age, in just seems wrong.
I've also witnessed, mostly in the last few years it seems, an increasing degree of animosity and antagonism towards the British and their colonisation of Sri Lanka from 1802 to 1948. Truly, I question the motivation behind some of this animosity.
My questioning comes from the fact that I just don't hear much said against the Dutch and the Portugese, both of whom, as I'm sure you're aware, also colonised Sri Lanka. The Portugeezers were there for around one hundred and fifty years, the Dutch then for about one hundred and forty years followed by us Brits for about one hundred and fifty years.
It remains to be seen how long the Chinese will be in occupation for, but it's fair to say that in previous times each occupier was there for about the same time. But these days it's the Brits who get all the flak. Call me naive, which you probably will, but I don't hear much anti Dutch talk or sentiments about the harm that the Portugese did, yet from all I can find out they raped the land, the people and the resources as much as anyone. Though of course the Dutch left lamprais and the Portugese left the baila.
Of course there is one thing that has hit me; the fact that these days the Dutch and the Portugese aren't that vociferous on their calls for investigations and inquiries into things that may or may not have happened in Sri Lanka. The Dutch are usually too stoned and the Portugese may be just too worried about their own place going bankrupt to be at all bothered about little old Sri Lanka.
A cynic might conclude that much of the anti British colonialism thing is actually a way of attacking the credibility of the British, rather than a real problem with the effects of colonialism.
The thing about colonising other countries is that it's a thing of the past, isn't it? Those days, from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, it was all the rage in Europe. It was the means by which many nations built prosperity, power and profit. It wasn't right, it was exploitation, but we know that now, which is why it's not up there along with surfing the net and getting my phone hacked by News International as one of the hobbies of most European leaders.
I compare it with smoking. Slightly.
You know when we see all those old adverts about smoking, the ones where a company says that most Doctors recommend Marlboro as the best fag to smoke, or where they extol the benefits of smoking Benson and Hedges. Well, in the cases where we've later found out that the tobacco companies actually knew about the evils and perils of smoking but ignored them or chose to lie, then that's downright despicable behaviour clearly.
But, in the cases where we just hadn't discovered the dangers, when people really thought smoking was good for you, then we don't actually get angry with those responsible do we? Sure, we would get angry with people if they tried to do the same now, with the knowledge we have.
And that's what I wonder about. Colonialism was the done thing. It's not now.
A wise friend told me something that has stuck; that every colony, once granted independence, goes back in its development to some point between when it was first colonised and the point at which independence happened, then continues to develop from there. It's a bit like a post divorce marriage. I reckon a country takes some years to get its bearings, to figure out where it wants to start from, and I think that's what Sri Lanka is doing at the moment, whilst dealing with all the other things going on as well.
It's no mean feat is it? Colonialism, for Sri Lanka, wasn't all bad. There were some positives as well as lots of negatives. It's going to take time to figure out the negatives, let alone get rid of them.
So shouldn't we, Sri Lankans, in which I include myself, be more angry, concerned and worried about China's behaviour which is actually happening today and now, than towards what the British did over a hundred years ago when I'm not sure that they knew any better?
I don't know the answer, just thinking aloud really. What do you think?