The national anthem issue was weeks ago but I’m commenting on it now, in the video above. Broadly – if you don’t have four minutes to watch a discussion that includes the Macarena and Crazy Frog – people should live with an anthem in multiple languages (like Canada, Switzerland and South Africa have). The point of the video is that a bilingual song is what Sri Lanka has always had, but what I don’t discuss is why. I’ll do that here.
Tamil-Speaking People Live Here
The national anthem we have is a beautiful song saluting and expressing devotion to Sri Lanka. We should ideally have as many people as possible singing it AND understanding what they’re singing. Because the words mean something. I mean, honestly, why would you not want Tamil-speaking peeps expressing loyalty to Sri Lanka?
Some people want them to sing a song they don’t understand as a sort of tacit acknowledgement that this is a Sinhala state, but guess what, it isn’t.
Tamil speakers do live here (Tamils and many Muslims) and if our country can include them, so can a song. We’re not like South Africa where we have to sing it in multiple languages even, we can just do two. Hell, the Canadians have English, French and Inuktitut. The Intuit (eskimos) are unlikely to stage an armed insurrection anytime soon but the Canadians still include them. Which brings me to the next point.
Hey, remember that? It sucked.
We won the war by brute force, but this requires far too many rocket launchers for the long-term. Anything we can do to make people feel welcome and included in this country is great. This is not selling out the sovereignty of the Sinhalese people, because the Sinhalese people aren’t sovereign. Sri Lankans are.
When Quebec wanted separation from Canada, Canada responded by making French available everywhere and creating a country that really could accommodate both communities. In Sri Lanka we have laws like this on our books and we should follow them. The national anthem in Tamil is honestly the least we can do.
It is important to remember the war and do whatever we can to prevent another one, namely, being nice to each other.
My final point about the national anthem is, why not? How does it hurt any Sinhalese person to hear the anthem in Tamil? It just doesn’t. It’s a tiny accommodation, it’s not even a new policy, and it shouldn’t really be a controversy.