Colossal farce or an act of gratification…?
Posted on February 13th, 2017

K.K.S.Perera Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Keppetipola made a hero after  ‘Nine Score years and Nineteen’   

…we cannot dedicate, we cannot desecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated far above our poor power to add or detract…”

-Extract from Gettysburg address by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the USA.

The President deserves praise for de-gazetting or posthumously awarding ‘medals’ for personal acts of valour above and beyond the call of duty for their heroic acts and meritorious services against invaders in the past while running a unity government with someone who once initiated a plan to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Portuguese invasion during his short stint as Prime Minister in 2001-2004.

Rajapaksa Wickramasekera Mudiyanselage Bandaranayake Monarawila Keppetipola [Monarawila Keppetipola Dissawe] was the leader of the Uva rebellion 199 years ago. Keppetipola was sent with 500 men by Governor Brownrigg to suppress the rebellion. However, at the request of the rebels, Keppetipola joined them to lead the struggle. His men joined him too. Keppetipola returned the British arms and ammunition to the Governor. The rebellion began in Uva-Wellassa on October 12, 1817 spread to Dumbara, Hewaheta, Harisspattuwa and Nuwara-Kala-Viya, was a great success until it was broken with the disbanding of the rebels. Two new army divisions, including an Indian one were dispatched to Uva by Governor immediately after the news that Keppetipola had joined the rebels.
Wilbawe Doresamy was formally crowned by the rebels. Keppetipola was appointed as the Maha Adhikaram (Chief Minister) and the new King urged the fighters to free the country from the invading British. A guerrilla war was waged by Keppetipola, though aware that the rebels were lesser in firepower.
On January 10, 1818, Governor Brownrigg castigated Keppetipola and several other leaders of the uprising as outlaws, rebels, and enemies to the crown through a gazette and they were found guilty of high treason, and their properties were confiscated.

Keppetipola captured and executed   

Keppetipola along with Pilimathalawe were captured by Captain O’Neil On October 28, 1818. As the troops surrounded the house, Keppitipola boldly came out and greeted Capt. O’Neil; he was taken to Kandy, and tried for high treason and sentenced to death in a gruesome crime of history. This national hero is well known for the exceptional bravery that he showed at the instant of his execution, and has been honoured as a national hero of Sri Lanka since then. Honouring their memory, of course is an exercise in generosity. His skull was taken to London by the colonial authorities, but was returned to Ceylon on February 9, 1948; a few days after the declaration of Independence.
In 1813, the colonial office recommended Robert Brownrigg appointed as Governor of Ceylon. In 1815, he acquired Central hills of this island through a treaty known as the Kandyan Convention” assisted by the defecting ministers of the King, and annexed it to the British Empire, which they thought on which the sun never sets”, since its spread around the globe meant that the sun was always visible in at least one of its colonies. [it was Dr. Colvin R. de Silva who once said, Yes, the sun never sets in British Empire, because God never trusted them in the dark].

Another mass de-gazetting planned for March 1 for the rest   

The genocidal policy of the colonial British during the Great Rebellion of 1818 recognized his ‘achievements’; Brownrigg was honoured with the hereditary title by the British Crown in 1816. Brownrigg who defeated the 1818 Rebellion and ordered the beheading of Keppetipola, attained the rank of General before leaving the colony in 1819. [The organizers of the ceremony may revoke the above two gazettes as well before they wind up the de-gazetting process].
It was reported that another mass de-gazetting was planned for March 1 for the rest of the national heroes, to be held in the Maligawa precincts, Kandy.
There had been many national, cultural, and political massacres, butchery and slaughter committed by the British and other colonial powers who ruled for 443 years from 1505 to 1948. The Badulla atrocity undertaken by Robert Brownrigg involved the slaughter of adults and children, including babies suckling at the mothers’ breasts. They destroyed their paddy cultivation the irrigation schemes and other infrastructure as well.

Gettysburg address   

The historical Gettysburg address delivered on November 19, 1863, by Lincoln, [who’s four years in office is regarded by historians as the most critical period in American history], was made at the dedication ceremony of ‘Soldiers National Cemetery’ at Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, the place where one of the worst battles in American civil war was fought which left over 7000 men dead. [The speech conveys a message to our organizers of de-gazetting ceremonies]. The Union Army defeated confederation. The classic speech demonstrating mastery of thought and expression is generally accepted as one of the most enduring addresses ever delivered by the lips of a man.
Dedicating the cemetery to the war heroes, Lincoln began with the now iconic phrase…,
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of the field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

“Keppetipola along with Pilimathalawe were captured by Captain O’Neil On October 28, 1818. As the troops surrounded the house, Keppitipola boldly came out and greeted Capt. O’Neil; he was taken to Kandy, and tried for high treason and sentenced to death in a gruesome crime of history”

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But…In a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot desecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did there. that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vein – that this nation, shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln took nearly two weeks to prepare the small speech, lasting just under three minutes. Our national leaders have lacked the courage to write their own speeches. They depend on ‘social scientists’. These people have dominated state strategy with incompetent and unproven academic theories.

Unnecessary, if not farcical   

There is no way of undoing these grave injustices. Reversing the record on these shameful crime is ‘farcical’ and the government needs to concentrate on burning issues of the day instead of wasting everybody’s time. The British authorities may have condemned the 1818 rebellion leaders Keppetipola and 18 others as ‘traitors’ through a Gazette. It is an unnecessary exercise to expose this disgraceful obsolete and archaic British document and trounce it. Those who advised the government to dwell upon erasing the British gazette have resorted to publicity feats. If it necessitates ‘erasing’ even a small part of the colonial legacy it is an act of distortion of history- besides everything else.
It is an act of remembering people who had their own personal concerns, individual ambitions to live peaceful lives. But being confronted with events that affected not just them, but the nation, yet, they could have chosen to remain focused on their personal battles, ignoring what was going on around them. They set aside their personal agendas, their fears, they did not waver. They knew that if they did not use their strength to resist it, then the abuse and violence would continue. These are the people we consider heroes.
After all they say – heroes are people like you and me who were placed in unexpected situations, and yet, still preferred to do what is right; do they need Gazettes to become heroes?
‘The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.’- Benjamin Disraeli.

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3 Responses to “Colossal farce or an act of gratification…?”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Our country for years run by tyrants who never cared for the people, from the King to his chieftains. All the chieftains wanted was to oust the horrible king and grab the power for them selves using the British with the Kandyan convention.
    That was the period of the world history where tyrants were thing of the past.None of any country had a good history and there was a new culture and a new world was opening up where Britian was just the catalyst in the process where by a new dawn for our people was ushered.
    Glorifying this rascal is like getting the mosquito back that gave us malaria.He was duly dealh like eliminating a pest that kept our countries in dark.
    Since the colonials set foot we had the privilege of the facilities that we are enjoying now. Prior to them did we have any cemeteries for us to bury our dead? Did we have hospitals and schools? Did we have a police force to protect the people, but some force to protect the tyrants? Where were those police stations for the people? Did we have a justice system for our people? Since the arrival of the colonials there were those facilities that came along with them but we are dishonestly in denial because our leaders are trying to bring the standards down so they could rule in the most cruel manner that our tyrants did to our people.
    After the so called independence instead on building on what that was left by them, our leaders are ruining the country with such low standards the cream of the country have left the country to the countries of the Colonials.
    Our present leaders are trying to bring back the old medieval cruel standards by glorying the tyrant who would have put back the clock to our demise if he had lived.
    Our leaders are very clever to put religion to hide behind and praise the cruel past to justify their near unaccountable and doggy palanaya.We are expecting the progressive countries to make the leaders in the cruel third world accountable where sovereignty of a state which they can’t hide any more.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Sri Lanka has a History to be proud of.
    Most of the Kings were good and able leaders. Sure there were a few not so good leaders, but that came about mostly after the some 500 yrs of Colonisation of Lanka.
    Lanka had a great civilisation based on the Buddhist Values and an Irrigation System which still draws the awe of the world, together with a truly sound Education (based on Life Values). The Ola leaf books in the libraries in the Buddhist places of learning were all burnt down by the Portuguese. What a loss.
    Yes, there was poverty by today’s standards.
    But the Country was not divided then, and People then were loyal to the Country of their Birth with good Life Values.

    By the way, it were the same standards of living for the masses as in Lanka then, or worse, for the Colonial countries.

    It is the correct move that our Local Heroes are given their rightful place in the History of Lanka.

  3. aloy Says:

    It is a great dishonor to decorate our heroes by a government of thieves for the thieves; they are doing it to cover their sins. They say at the time of Sinhala kings, a woman could walk with her gold on her head from Dondra to Peduru thuduwa. ( from one end of country to the other) Can a woman go out of her house with a necklace in any part of the country today.

    We tell MS & Co, please put the house in order without denigrating our heroes.

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