By Faraz Shauketaly
We were fab such a long time ago that most of us in this beautiful, asian splendour, fertile and rich in diversity, emitting an overall colour of a deep green and glowing golden beaches, have long forgotten When We Was Fab.
There was a time in the late 1960’s when travel was easy and cheap, probably long and arduous. The fun I presume was so great that the length and the arduousness possibly never mattered. The Mainline from Colombo to Badulla rattled its way into the hills complete with the fumes of the coals mixed with the heat of the day cooled by the wind generated by the noisy train. It snaked upwards quite literally full to the brim and arrived in the dusk. Waiting buses and a solitary car would whisk us away from the station thereafter.
Every April or thereabouts we were off to the cooler climes of the hill country. A time to cool off, be freer than we would have been in greater Colombo. Time to visit our annual-visit-list relatives all smiling and welcoming us all to share whatever was available. Even through the rationing period. Nostalgic, yes perhaps.
But a time indeed, to reflect on When We Was Fab.
We was so fab that the visiting Lee Kuan Yew wanted to emulate us, the Ceylonese now turned the Lankan lions.
So what happened to our beautiful island? An island of happiness and peace until some of us returned from the West having been exposed to the ways manners and dress sense of the white man or simply the West. Intoxicating it must have for we had all sorts return to our island paradise.
We had people who were exposed to leftist ideals, to communism, Marxism, Democracy and Republicanism too. And everything in between. A touch here and there of neo-liberalism too.
We Was Fab before all that were we not? Our Kings Was Fab. Our Architecture Was Fab. Our Temples Was Fab. Our traditions Was Fab. We Was Fab. And yes, Our Culture Was Fab and in tact.
Along with the evolution of life per se, of our society through western infused ideas and ordeals even, a cancer entered unnoticed and sept into dismembered bits of our communities. It was so secret and so understated that we certainly did not notice it and we fail to notice that the same West still has in-tact those practises except it so so subtle almost never to be found.
That cancer was greed, fed by the unbalanced ideals of some who protend to practise democracy and work in the interest of the people that they may as well say in the ultra limited interests of the peasants. Enter Corruption, the cancer holding back the progress of our nation of our children, of our future of our nation.
The people are being held to ransom by the narrow, selfish and limited agenda of men and some women, who protend to serve us the people.
The last four and one half years has been an absolute disgrace in terms of accountability, fiscal management, political stability, national security, energy security and even the retirement funds of the working public. It leads us to verily believe that ‘We ain’t Fab. Not Now’.
We was Fab until our politicians thought they understood business. It did not help that some in business fancied their chances in the field of politics. And vice versa. Nans of yesteryear will say ‘There Where The Trouble’. Indeed when politicians started to meddle in entrepreneurship and in hard nosed commerce the country was set to go down a definitive slippery path gathering moment each and every yard.
We Was Fab until our politicians became intelligence operatives. We Was Fab until our Prime Ministers and Presidents and Ministers played pandhu and ignored – and by that ignorance – failed to understand miserably the pain, the feeling, the desperateness, of the people and their family and friends, who openly wept with increasing intensity when the kids came back inside from school, to be presented only with the still bodies of their loved ones dressed in all of their final glory.
We Was Fab when we sorted out the terrorists. It took thirty plus years. We Was Fab enjoying our regained freedoms, our happiness oozed for all to see. Northerners and former conflict area citizenry made nostalgic visits down south. Southerners curious to find out what of their Northerner sisters and brothers travelled north. The Mainline to Jaffna was redone. We Was Fab.
When we upped our ante and our entrepreneurs risked their hard gained capital and infused into our economy thousands of hotel rooms, hundreds of thousands of our youth found jobs in the sector and informally thousands more too.
In all of this We Was Fab.
The people of Sri Lanka will not be Fab again until and unless the people of Sri Lanka choose for themselves a Fab Leader.
We Was Fab. We wanna be Fab. We need strong leadership. We need to be able to draw from that candidates’ expertise in our quest for a better land.
We Will Be Fab. The question remains – When?
We Was Fab. Not now.