This year’s independence day will be our country’s 75th.
It marks an important step in the post-colonial history of the country, and one that serves as an indicator of how our nation evolved and developed over the past 75 years. This time around, independence day celebrations come on the back of a year of unprecedented protests and a successful citizen’s movement that ousted a president entrenched in authoritarian, yet legitimate power. It raises questions on how we are ruled, and to what degree the regular men and women of our country are able and allowed to live a dignified and economically/politically sound and stable life as Sri Lankans. These questions are made evermore pertinent due to the economic and debt crisis that we live in and suffer under. In addition to this, the President has promised that the country’s ‘ethnic issues’ will be solved through the full implementation of the 13th Amendment come February 4th. What does this mean in the context of our post-independence history?
Within the context of the past 75 years, it is also important to assess our history – how have the years since our independence from colonial rule allowed our country to move ahead in the light of self determination? Is this history one that shows the end of our dependence on outside powers? How have we forged a national identity in the interim? Is it an identity that treats all Sri Lankans the same or one that holds one sect or group of Sri Lankans superior to another?
The history of Sri Lanka’s armed uprisings in the North and South perhaps speak better to the latter. Does the disenchantment and disenfranchisement of certain groups of Sri Lankans speak to our failure to integrate and build a united country for ourselves? What have our successes and victories reflected for us? Have moments of national unity meant our ability to have pride in ourselves as Sri Lankans, or is this a flawed perception of our country’s inability to be truly united, and truly independent.
Finally, do we as Sri Lankans feel we have a place in our country’s future?
In an attempt to understand what answers to these questions would look like, Groundviews has compiled a selection of photographs that speak to the story of independence by looking at how everyday moments in Sri Lanka capture or convey the idea of independence. These images further aim observe to what degree these exist in our everyday understanding of our life as Sri Lankans.
To view this story click here, or see the window below.