Shakespeare knew it all | Sunday Observer

Shakespeare knew it all

I feel like making this pronouncement, while contemplating what is happening around us these days, in spite of the fact that I am almost dying due to the vagaries of old age.

 In his speech Brutus said that they loved Caesar, but they loved the country more. Here in Sri Lanka ,it is vice versa; our political leaders love the country less and love their personal aggrandisement more.

In the sleepless night there appears before me the drama, Julius Caesar, a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Julius Caesar was an Emperor of Rome and he was an autocrat who never listened to anybody, his sole aim was the aggrandisement of the Roman empire. In the Senate, the sole ruling body of the empire, there was Cassius, a Senator who was a villain with a grudge against Caesar and who wanted to assassinate Caesar at any cost.

The Plot

For the plot against Caesar, Cassius was very keen on enlisting the support of Brutus, a senior Senator who was noble, humane and loved by the people. So, the plot against Caesar was brewing.

Caesar was getting ready to go the Senate in the morning, but his wife earnestly requested him not to go to the Senate meeting that morning, saying she had seen some evil omens. Caesar never heeds superstitions. He goes to the Senate in the morning. Assassins are gathering round him. Caesar draws out his sword and fights with them bravely; and then Caesar sees Brutus drawing his sword. Caesar was annoyed and says ‘’Et tu Brute- You are also against me” and drops his rapier. Assassins kill Caesar. Common people did not like Caesar for his haughty ways and auto-tyrannic rule. So, they approved the assassination of Caesar.


At Caesar’s funeral, Brutus gave a short speech first. When he rose to speak, the common people or the mob as Shakespeare calls them, made a loud cry, “Tyranny is over, long live Brutus”. In his speech Brutus said that they loved Caesar, but they loved the country more. But here in Sri Lanka it is vice versa; our political leaders love the country less and love their personal aggrandisement more.

After the speech of Brutus, permission was given to Mark Antony, the beloved friend of Caesar to make a short speech. Mark Antony began to speak but people were shouting and not heeding to him. So Mark Antony pleaded with the people saying, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”. The speech went on and people began to listen to him. Mark Antony was such a great orator that at the end of his speech people began to shout out that “Brutus and other assassins are villains’’. At the end of the speech, people hailed Caesar as a great and noble hero. Such was Mark Antony’s oratory.

But the pity of it is that there is no Mark Antony here to tell the people and convince them, that Sri Lanka from being a National State is being gradually converted into a Market State and the assets and resources of economic value are in the open market for sale. Europeans, Americans and other capitalists are bargaining to get them for a song and the worst of it is that all the carrion and rubbish that is cast aside in Europe and America are being warmly embraced in Sri Lanka. The concept of the Market State was once prevailing in Europe but by now it has been rejected.

The best example for this is England. The establishment of a Market State among the developing countries in Asia is welcome news to European and American capitalist countries. They want to maintain the status quo. This is why they are interfering in the internal political conflicts in Sri Lanka.

As an Indian journalist (I forget his name) has rightly said, the greatest enemies of the third world developing countries in Asia and Africa are the European and American capitalist countries. But there is no Mark Antony in Sri Lanka to explain these subtle matters to the people in Sri Lanka.

The cultural tradition of this country which is extant for more than two-thousand years is being corrupted and vitiated. They are going to legalise homosexuality which had been absolutely denounced by Jesus Christ.

Rural Community

As Martin Wickramasinghe has rightly said long ago, the rural community of this country forms its backbone. Welfare of the rural community is the welfare of the country. Recently I visited my village home. There were vast extents of barren lands where once there were smiling paddy fields. Agriculture has been thoroughly neglected. The villager who got his rice from the paddy fields now goes to the boutique to buy rice. But where is the money to buy it? The majority of the rural community are poor. They almost starve.

They are physically hungry and political leaders are power-hungry. A person who has not studied the social and economic history of this country well, who has not understood the mentality of the rural community and who does not feel the heartbeat of the poor villagers cannot successfully rule over this country.

They talk about the violations of parliamentary traditions. Why, talk about it when cultural traditions of this country have been violated and corrupted. What good has the parliamentary system done to us? Even the Free Education Bill which brought about a great revival in the rural community was passed in the State Council, not in the Parliament.

What has the parliamentary system done to us? It has divided the people of this country into several categories, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, UNPers and Communists.

The aim of the colonial powers in their colonies was to ‘divide and rule’. Shadows of colonialism are still haunting this country. Why can’t we keep our national identities and ideological differences to ourselves and get together and work for the welfare of the people?

No. These are the wild nightmares of an old man on his last legs.