The Last Africans of Sri Lanka- Meeting a lesser known community in rural Sri Lanka

The Last Africans of Sri Lanka- Meeting a lesser known community in rural Sri Lanka

Unknown to most people, even Sri Lankan’s themselves there exists a small community of the Africans who are a unique ethnic group who partially descended to the island in the 16th Century brought in by the Portuguese traders who brought Bantu Slaves to work as labourers and soldiers to fight against the native Kings.

This community traditionally speak a native version of Creole which is based on the Portuguese language. Known as the Kaffir People ( the name they refer their community to, and not concerning the derogatory term used in parts of South Africa), as still found in a small village located in the remote corner of Puttalam in the West of the island.

They are a colourful group of people with a rich musical culture, and even the Sri Lankan songs and dance is known as Baila which is today perceived as quintessentially Sri Lankan is believed to have originated from the Kaffir people.

Now the community is intermarried with the local Sinhalese and Tamil people and have almost all lost their traditional language which is remembered only by a few elders. They still preserve their musical culture in the form of song and dance known as “Manja”.

A rhythmic form of song and dance, using various instruments, and wearing colorful dress, this up beat music adds to the color and diversity of Sri Lanka.

Maintaining an oral history of their families and descendants, it is believed they originate from East Africa from the Great Lakes region.

A visit to their village entails a step into the past, in discovering the lives of these amazing people who have made Sri Lanka their home, and keep their rich traditions and culture alive. Classic Sri Lanka has gained special access to meet and work with this community to bring forth their unique culture to the world. Join Classic Sri Lanka to explore the vast diversity and colourful tapestry that is Sri Lanka.

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