Slave Island

I’ve been two weeks in Colombo, and managed to see many of it’s main sites.

I must say that I wasn’t very amused by the city centre which is blatantly an attempt to follow the western concept of progress and attract as many tourists and foreign investors by building hotels, luxury infrastructures, restaurants…

In fact, the intention of the Rajapakse government is to transform Colombo in the major South Asian commercial hub. Unfortunately, as it often happens when the western model is applied with no regard to the unicity of a place, of its history and in respect of its people, human rights cease to be conceived. In this case, there is a whole quarter under threat of demolition and eviction.

Slave island is one of the oldest communities in the capital. The name was given during the British colonization and administration, as it was the place where the Dutch and Portuguese used to keep their slaves, most of them africans.

Now it’s considered a slum, where not only informal sellers live but also employers and small entrepreusers. Positioned near the railway, the quarter stroke me for the architecture (colonial style combined to a more oriental one) and the bright colours of its houses.

The families were quite surprised to see me wander in such an area, but they’ve welcomed me in their houses and I felt I found a place where I could feel comfortable amongst all those hyper-modern buildings.


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