Malay artists showcase their talents
Malay community's contribution to Sri Lankan cultural scene has been
substantial ever since the community became a part and parcel of post
colonial cultural legacy of the nation.
CD containing the tribute song for
Malay community has been living along with the other communities
since colonial days. The community's contribution to Sri Lankan culture
is manifold. Asiff Hussein writes of Malay community in Sri Lanka
"Renowned for their martial prowess and happy go-lucky attitude, Sri
Lanka"s Malay folk have but a relatively short history in the country,
albeit a very fascinating one.
This small Muslim community which comprises about 50,000 persons are
mainly descended from Javanese political exiles (nobles and chieftains),
soldiers and convicts, who arrived in the island from Dutch-occupied
Java during the period of Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka from 1658 "
Although the vast majority of Sri Lankan Malays are of Javanese
ancestry, there are also considerable numbers descended from the folk of
other islands in the Indonesian archipelago such as the Balinese,
Tidorese, Madurese, Sundanese, Bandanese and Amboinese.
Thus the ethnic term "Malay" should not be misconstrued as indicating
their origin from the Malayan peninsula. Although there do exist Sri
Lankan Malays descended from the folk of the Malayan peninsula, their
numbers are very few indeed.
The local Malays refer to themselves as orang Java (people of Java)
and orang Melayu (Malay people) while the majority Sinhalese community
call them Ja-minissu (Javanese people). Indonesian political exiles
comprised a significant portion of the early Malay population brought
hither by the Dutch.
These exiles posed a serious political threat to the Dutch East India
company (or "vereenigde oost indische compagnie", known as the VOC for
short) which had its headquarters in Batavia (the Dutch name for
Sri Lanka and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa were the
principal centres of banishment for such exiles."
Tony Mantara with
Stanley Omar and others in a studio
Malay community's contribution to enrich Sri Lankan culture is
unique. For instance, names of Malay singers like Harun Lanthra have
become a household name. Malay musician Stanley Omar has , over the
years, made substantial contribution to the field of music leaving Malay
imprints on Sri Lankan multi-ethnic music scene. I addition, Stanley
Omar's another contribution to the field is discovering talents
particularly among Sri Lankan Malay community.
Tony C.H Mantara
Tony C.H Mantara is the latest talent from the Malay community of Sri
Lanka. Tony Mantara's journey into the field of music is fascinating.
In his childhood Mantara would love to sing songs of H.R Jothipala,
J.A Milton Perera and Mohamad Drafi. Though he is gifted with talent in
singing, he could not realise his dream as he joined the tourism
industry as soon as he left school. It was a fulltime job and Mantara
had no time to exercise his inborn talent of singing.
There was a lull in tourism before the end of conflict, Mantara had
nothing particular to do and was wondering as to why he should not use
his inborn talent. Recognising the inborn talent for singing in him,
Stanley Omar invited him to sing for some of the songs he composed.
Stanley Omar has written lyrics and composed music for the songs. Tony
Mantara has already recorded a couple of Malay songs and some of the
songs had already aired on Eye Channel. Currently, Mantara is recording
six Sinhalese. Lyrics for some of the songs were written by Stanley
Omar. Jagath Ranatunga and Nambbuge wrote lyrics for the songs. Mantara
and other Malay singers (both men and women) are in the process of
producing the first ever Malay CD containing about 18 songs. Some of the
songs for the CD have already been recorded. The CD will be released by
mid December. A tribute CD to President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already
been done by the Malay community of Sri Lanka. The lyric for the tribute
song was by Jagath Ranatunga and music was by Stanley Omar.