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The Musical Representation of Sri Lankan Kaffirs

Geethika Abeyesekara [ගීතිකා අබේසේකර], Chinthaka Prageeth Meddegoda [චින්තක ප්‍රගීත් මැද්දෙගොඩ]

ASIAN-EUROPEAN MUSIC RESEARCH JOURNAL 12 (2023)     pp: 71-80     2023-12-13
The Musical Representation of Sri Lankan Kaffirs

Sri Lanka, Kaffirs, Manja songs, Diaspora studies, Micro-analysis Cite: APA    BibTeX

අබේසේකර], G.A.[., & , C.P.M.[.ප.ම. (2023). The Musical Representation of Sri Lankan Kaffirs. ASIAN-EUROPEAN MUSIC RESEARCH JOURNAL, 12 , 71-80. doi:10.30819/aemr.12-6
doi = {10.30819/aemr.12-6},
url = {},
year = 2023,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {12},
pages = {71-80},
author = {Geethika Abeyesekara [ගීතිකා අබේසේකර], Chinthaka Prageeth Meddegoda [චින්තක ප්‍රගීත් මැද්දෙගොඩ] },
title = {The Musical Representation of Sri Lankan Kaffirs},

This study presents a very small community within the Sinhalese context of Sri Lanka in light of academic interest: the Kaffirs. Their communal history reaches far back into colonial times, and they did not distinguish clearly from which territories in Africa these Kaffirs, an expression introduced by Portuguese rulers for slaves and servants brought to Sri Lanka from African shores, came and how they identify. Currently, Kaffirs are seen through the gaze of public writings and common biases. They are believed to have their performance styles and their strong association with the drum, dance, and vocal genres integrated into the canon of Sinhalese traditions. One specific vocal expression is the singing of manja songs, which are introduced and roughly analysed in this short paper. Manja songs are not so widely known to all people living in Sri Lanka. A specific study of these songs has not yet taken place. The main methods used are microanalysis, literature studies, and open interviews with those who are connected to Kaffirs, either as members of the group or as people related to their studies and performing arts. Beyond presenting the exciting text repertoire, it is to connect the musical skills that come with this way of singing with related arts such as dancing and drumming. The Kaffirs’ performance potentials are widely underestimated, as many Kaffirs have integrated, through marriage and social subordination, into the current society. Yet, it is important to focus on the snippets in the history of developing performance skills and their relatedness to another continent in order to help understand global issues and their future.
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