Beauty in the Eye of the Farsighted
The Nedimala Canal, bordering the Attidiya Bird Sanctuary, is on my morning jogging route. It, like all of Sri Lanka’s waterways, is choked with plastic. All of the newish walking paths built through and around the wetlands of Colombo’s suburbs, part of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse’s initiative (begun when he was head of the Urban Development Authority) to create a healthier population, are built on plastic. Wetlands are used as landfills; the city’s waste (mostly plastic) is dumped in, and then landscaped. It looks pretty, but it’s just garbage.

Special Feature — Retracing My Black July

A version of this post first ran in July 2008, on my blog, The Blacklight Arrow, under the title, ‘Black Thoughts’, and was later reproduced on Groundviews as ‘My Name is Cedric, do You Remember Me?’; part of a Black July anthology. With my intention to move some of my online writing to this site, I thought I would retrace my journey on that first day of the July 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom, from my school in Borella to my grand uncle’s home on Temple Road, Maradana, and on to my own home on St John’s Way, in Mutwal. So I walked and taxied across Colombo today, trying to find some of the places I had described thirteen years ago, and compare them to the images in my head from thirty-eight years ago. I took a few photos too.
Wesley College, Colombo, where generations of Blackers have graduated by the skin of their teeth, and yours truly, in June 1982, a year before Black July.

July usually passes me by without too much notice, beyond the vague worry that there might be a Tiger attack on Colombo, and a few flashbacks to that weekend in 1983. But this time it’s been a bit different. I’ve found myself reliving that day a lot more this year. It isn’t the fact that this is the 25th anniversary of the carnage which most people see as the starting point of our war, though that has been the focus of a lot of attention. What did it was a phone call a couple of weeks ago.

Continue reading “Special Feature — Retracing My Black July”

Guns and Lucia #2
A soldier guards St Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahena, in April 2021, on the eve of the second anniversary of the 21st April 2019 Easter Bombings, in which several churches were attacked by suspected Islamic suicide bombers. Consecrated in 1902, St Lucia’s is the seat of the Archbishop of Colombo, and is the largest and oldest Roman Catholic parish cathedral in Sri Lanka.

5DMkIV & EF 16-35mm/2.8L courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

Broken Trust
The face of Mr Tuan Rishard, a Muslim resident of Kochchikade, displays the shock he feels at the carnage wreaked on his Christian neighbours, by what is widely believed to have been Islamic extremists of the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a militant group claiming ISIS affiliation. Five days before, on Easter Sunday morning, 21st April 2019, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the crowded St Anthony’s Shrine, just around the corner from Mr Rishard’s home in Newham Square, killing over a hundred worshippers. Until the Easter Bombings, which simultaneously hit several churches and large hotels in and around Sri Lanka’s capital, the Muslim and Christian communities, both small minorities in a largely Buddhist population, had lived alongside each other peacefully. Both religious minorities have been regularly targeted by Buddhist extremist groups, with several violent anti-Muslim pogroms being initiated in the years leading up to the bombings. Shot on assignment for Polaris Images.

One Year On, More Questions than Answers in Sri Lanka
Black flags hang over Jampettah Street, leading to the damaged St Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, close to the Colombo Port, days after a bomb killed more than a hundred worshippers on Easter Sunday in 2019. The clock in the church bell tower, stricken by the explosion, still displays the time of the attack — 8.45am. (David Blacker / Polaris Images)
Continue reading “One Year On, More Questions than Answers in Sri Lanka”

The Temple of War #2

The Temple of War #2 by Son of the Morning Light on
The preaching and meditation hall at the Nagadeepa Viharaya, close to Mahiyanganaya, in eastern Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine. My road trip piece, The Temple of War, appeared in the April 2016 issue.
Continue reading “The Temple of War #2”

Shrouded by Sorrow

Hidden by Sorrow, St Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade by Son of the Morning Light on
The usual view of St Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, from the top of Jampettah Street is almost completely blocked by thousands of black and white streamers — the traditional sign of mourning in Sri Lanka — strung above the street by local residents (licensed to Polaris Images).
Continue reading “Shrouded by Sorrow”

Cordoned Off from God

Cordoned Off from God, Kochchikade, Sri Lanka by Son of the Morning Light on
Unable to get closer to his church than a couple of hundred meters, an elderly Roman Catholic prays at a Sri Lanka Navy barricade cordoning off St Anthony’s Shrine from Jampettah Street. Five days before, on Easter Sunday, 21st April 2019, a suicide bomber from the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), an ISIS affiliated Islamic extremist group, walked into the Kochchikade church close to Colombo’s port during morning mass and blew himself up. Over a hundred worshippers were killed. Six simultaneous attacks, four in Colombo and two outside the city, targeted three Christian churches and three large hotels, killing more than 250 people and wounding over 500. Sri Lanka, 26th April 2019. (licensed to Polaris Images).


Rami and Pepper by Son of the Morning Light on

Rami, a refugee from Syria, makes new friends on a farm close to Simmern, in the Hunsrück Mountains, Germany. July 2016.

  • 600D+EFS18-200/3.5-5.6+polariser@18mm,1/500,f/3.5,ISO400
  • The Temple of War #3

    The Temple of War #3 by Son of the Morning Light on

    The Nagadeepa Viharaya, close to Mahiyanganaya, in eastern Sri Lanka. The stupa is believed to date to the 2nd century BC, when it was built by King Dutugemunu of Anuradhapura, in gratitude for his victory over the Chola king, Elara. To the left of the stupa, is a small shrine built in 2009 by President Mahinda Rajapakse in gratitude for his victory over the Tamil Tigers. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine. My road trip piece, The Temple of War: the Road to Andaulpotha and the Other Nagadeepa, appeared in the April 2016 issue.

  • 600D+EFS18-200/3.5-5.6+polariser@18mm,1/200,f/3.5,ISO400