“There’s no place quite like Slave Island,” Nizar Doole announced to us within minutes of meeting us for the first time. As an example, he urged us to look to his own community, the Malays, who speak most if not all of the country’s languages: English, Sinhala, Tamil along with their own dialect, Ja. A gentleman in his late 60s, Doole himself spoke all four; conversing easily with us in English, hailing his neighbours in Tamil, addressing his children in Ja but preferring to be interviewed in Sinhala.
These are the stories, homes, neighborhoods and lives of people the Ministry of Defence lumps together as slum and shanty dwellers.
See http://groundviews.org/2014/08/08/slums-shanties-or-stories/ for more.
Our effort is to see a slums and shanties free Colombo in year 2020 says the Ministry of Defence.
To be clear about the terms used, a slum is a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people or a house or building unfit for human habitation. A shanty is a small, crudely built shack.
A search on defence.lk for ‘slum’ yields 59 results to date, whereas ‘shanty’ brings up 39 results. Not a single of the nearly 100 stories on the site looks at the enforced relocation of those in areas like Slave Island and Java Lane, an inherently violent and traumatic process, from the perspectives of actual inhabitants.
At 27 years old, Sugeeth Kumar is part of a generation of Slave Island’s young entrepreneurs. Tiring of the long hours his previous job at Pizza Hut required, he decided that if he must work so hard, he would do it on his own time and for his own business: vending prawn vadai – a popular Tamil fried food – out of a cart at the Galle Face Green Promenade.
See his story at http://www.movingimages.asia/2011/04/“if-they-relocated-me-i’d-be-dead-against-it”/
Produced by Sharni Jayawardena and Tarika Wickremeratne, as part of Walkabout: Slave Island. Watch the trailer to this series below, and visit the Moving Images website for more stunning content on Sri Lanka.