From Puttalam to Pretoria: Afro-Lankans Fascinate in South Africa
An eleven person musical dance troupe of Puttalam’s Afro- Sri Lankan community thrilled a large audience consisting of Ambassadors, Foreign Ministry Officials, South Africa’s Business Community and South Africa’s Sri Lankan Expatriate Community at the Sri Lankan High Commission Independence Day celebration held at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria.  Specialist chefs from Perera & Sons were also flown in for the event and the Sri Lankan food festival held over the week at the Sheratons main restaurant.
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H.E. Shehan Ratnavale Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Pretoria began his address by quoting from Arthur. C. Clark who stated that:
            “The Island of Sri Lanka is a small universe; it contains as many variations of culture, scenery and climate as some countries a dozen times it size.”

After expanding on the developing political and commercial relations with South Africa, the High Commissioner highlighted Sri Lanka’s rich climatic, scenic and cultural diversity, and then detailed the symbolic nature of the Sri Lankan flag with reference to virtues and the main ethnic groups.  He explained that the yellow border of the flag represents other minor communities in Sri Lanka and said that on this the 65th Independence Day celebrations in Pretoria it was appropriate to make a visit to the border. 

The High Commissioner noted that the year 2011 was designated as the UN International year for people of African descent and that the 2012 Global African Diaspora Summit was held in South Africa.  He said he was delighted to observe that even in the context of the global African diaspora Sri Lanka has a small but interesting contribution, and went on to explain the impact of the Afro-Lankan community on the roots of Sri Lankan Baila music.
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This lively performance at the Sri Lankan Independence Day celebration was the first International performance by this community.  It was appropriate that it took place in Africa
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