Lanka’s First-Ever Unity Monument With Bricks From Across The Island
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s first-ever “Unity Monument” is to be built with bricks from every part of the island nation to symbolize the need for reconciliation among its ethnic and religious groups after 30 years of bloodletting in pursuit of narrow goals.
The Lankan equivalent of the Indian “Kar Sewa” is the brainchild of the Capital Maharaja Organization (CMO), which runs popular TV stations catering to all the three linguistic groups in the island.
“But the project is broad-based, with the government National Youth Services Council providing the logistics, and several private entities, including the Chinese-funded Colombo Port City Project, sponsoring it. All are welcome,” explained Chevaan Daniel, Group Director of CMO.
Designated as the “Ranbhoomi” (Precious Land) National Unity Rally, the movement is a caravan going from place to place holding rallies. It is currently in the Tamil-speaking Northern Province.
“We plan to stop at about 150 villages and collect one brick from each, with each brick having the name of the village embossed on it. These bricks will be part of the monument to be built in Colombo,” Daniel told Express.
The length and breadth of the island is expected to be covered in the next 35 to 40 days, after which a competition for the design of the monument will be organized.
“We hope to finalize the design and build the monument before year end,” Daniel said.
Challenges to Unity
The need to strengthen national unity through symbolism has acquired great urgency, especially with a section of the Lankan political spectrum trying to whip up anti-minority feelings out of frustration. Recently, one group brazenly waved “Lankan national flags” from which the orange and green stripes representing the Tamil and Muslim communities respectively, were missing.
Furthermore, Lanka has monuments commemorating the armed forces’ exploits, but none symbolizing ethnic reconciliation and unity of the nation. Seeing the lacuna, President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Lankans to commemorate all the war dead, and not just those of one ethnic group, because the dead were all Lankans.