Serapina comes dancing merrily into the compound and goes to  the Margosa tree where her friends Kussi Amma Sera and Mabel Rasthiyadu are having their tea, singing “Naana..…..Waana.” Hearing the din, I look out of the window to find Serapina loudly humming the tune of a new song that is making waves on social media. [...]

Business Times

Achcharu country


Serapina comes dancing merrily into the compound and goes to  the Margosa tree where her friends Kussi Amma Sera and Mabel Rasthiyadu are having their tea, singing “Naana..…..Waana.”

Hearing the din, I look out of the window to find Serapina loudly humming the tune of a new song that is making waves on social media.

Nana, nana, mehe ahanne nana; Wana, wana, yuddhe ayeth wana: Oona, oona sama thamai oona,” she sings. This is the chorus and it means “Nana (affectionate term for a Muslim) we want peace, we don’t want war again.”

The song ‘Nana’ sung by Ishaq Baig and Rajiv Sebastian has some nice lyrics on peace, harmony, how Sri Lankan communities can live together, share their cultures and traditions and why peace, against war, is essential. You can find the song on The song is infectious, catchy, has a nice baila beat and is very popular on social media.

Soon Kussi Amma Sera and Mabel Rasthiyadu joined Serapina in humming the chorus. Then settling down, Kussi Amma Sera asked: “Ape ratata metaram prasna athivune aie? (Why does our country have so many problems)?

Apita godak svabhavika sampath tiyenava (We have so many natural resources),” said Mabel Rasthiyadu.Api Singappuruva vage neme, lankawe godak palathuru saha elavalu thiyenawa (We have so many fruits and vegetables unlike Singapore),” interjected Serapina.

Mey siyalu sampath ekka, ape jeevithe meita wediya honda wenda oney neda (With all these resources shouldn’t our lives be better)?” responds Kussi Amma Sera.

The trio was referring to recent events where more than 250 people were killed in a dastardly bomb attack by Islamic extremists, rioting against Muslim homes and shops and a general feeling of uncertainty amongst all communities in the country after the Easter Sunday attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels.

While I reflected on these thoughts and also subconsciously began to hum the tune of ‘Nana’, the phone rang with a surprising caller. It was Pedris Appo, short for Appuhamy, a retired agriculture expert who does farming but has a great knowledge of culture, traditions and harmony.

“Why, oh, why are we shooting ourselves in the foot,” asked Pedris Appo. It was a pleasant call, as I hadn’t spoken to him for a while. “Greetings my friend, long time, no see,” I said in the usual greeting for someone you haven’t seen or heard for a while.

“This country is blessed with so much natural resources, forests, natural vegetation and fruits. Why can’t we live in peace, while equally sharing our valuable resources,” said an exasperated Pedris  Appo. I sensed he was angry and bitter over the happenings in Sri Lanka. “I think this is a phase that would hopefully pass,” I said, trying to calm him down.

We then got talking about the country’s nature resources and the kind of countryside that many other countries, with limited resources, would love to have.

Sri Lanka is indeed blessed which unfortunately our politicians have chosen to ignore and are fighting each other ever since independence, for power and their own survival. Sri Lanka has plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy and a coastal line that should be enough to feed the country with fish and also export – if done correctly.

The country’s natural resources include graphite, mineral sands, limestone, phosphate and gems. There are industrial minerals including, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, quartz, feldspar, clay, kaolin, apatite (phosphate rock), silica sand, garnet sand, mica, calcite and dolomite.

The Pulmoddai beach, on the country’s northeastern region, has a sand deposit with non-ferrous mineral generally referred to as ‘black gold’ due to its richness and value.

When it comes to fruits, Sri Lanka has an amazing array – mango, banana, passion fruit, durian, wood apple, rambutan, pineapple, mangosteen, avocado, papaya, jakfruit, guava, jambu, even grapes in the north and coconut, among others.

When it comes to vegetables, we have carrot, leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, salad leaves, beetroot, beans, bell-pepper, cucumber, gherkins, capsicum, pumpkin and bitter-gourd, among others.

Then for consumption and industrial use we have tea, rubber, coconut, maize, coffee, etc while for protein there is fish, dairy, poultry, eggs, beef and milk. While Singapore, which has no resources but nevertheless is rich, has a per capita (average per person) income of US$55,600, Sri Lanka’s per capita is $4,073 and categorised as a lower middle-income country.

As Pedris Appo says, why are we shooting ourselves in the foot when this country is blessed with so much of resources that can equally make its people wealthy in terms of health, happiness and prosperity? Why can’t Sri Lanka be for example like the mountainous country of Bhutan which has continually been ranked as the happiest in all of Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world? With communal violence sporadically occurring now, also a threat to the country’s thriving tourism industry, Sri Lanka is far from being happy and contented and sharing its resources amongst its people.

One thing, however, in Sri Lanka’s favour is that the country’s economy recovers fast from a tragedy, seen often during the 30 years of conflict when the economy moved in a see-saw fashion; one year it was down and the following year it recovered. If Sri Lanka’s communities can live in harmony, sharing of resources comes naturally followed by an increase in incomes, reducing poverty.

In fact, while there is a lot of blame on the government for failing to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks with information of possible attacks already in the security domain, the recovery in breaking the extremists’ cells, the recovery of weapons across the country and the speed of arrests have brought the situation under control. Several countries including India, China and on Thursday, Britain (Sri Lanka’s three largest source markets for tourism) relaxed travel advisories, from ‘avoid non-essential travel’ to ‘be cautious when travelling (to Sri Lanka)’.

Schools have reopened and life has returned to normal, amidst tight security at hotels, public buildings and key state establishments. Tourism is going through a lean patch with a sharp drop of 70 per cent in arrivals last month, compared to the same month in 2018. The authorities are hoping for a better month in July and a quicker-than-expected recovery by November/December when the traditional winter season is in full force.

Just as I press the key to wind up this column, Kussi Amma Sera walks in with a second cup of tea (this has been happening for three weeks now on the trot), saying: “Ape ratata siduvela thiyenne mokakda? (What has happened to our country?)”.

Avaasanavanta deyak (something very unfortunate),” I say in response, humming the catchy tune of ‘Nana’.

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