Written by Staff Writer
15 Apr, 2020 | 9:52 am
Gammadda is a grassroots movement deeply entrenched in the hearts and minds of rural Sri Lanka. But when it launched an art competition on Sirasa & Shakthi TV when the Covid-19 lockdown was declared, nobody thought much of it. The competition would attract a few hundred drawings at best. And that was what was safely assumed.
24-hours later, and the WhatsApp number publicized by the network for people to send in their art, packed up.
WhatsApp took it down because it thought the account was being hacked due to the unusually high data traffic. 15,000+ contributions came in on day Number One. By the end of the week, it was over 100,000. Today, Gammadda has lost count of the total number of drawings sent in by kids ‘young and old’. The drawings are painstakingly sorted by a skeletal crew, edited into short videos and aired on Sirasa and Shakthi TV. Countless homes in Sri Lanka are glued to the network, with kids and parents keen to see their submissions on a national TV channel.
Around a week later, the Gammadda team decided to launch a song under the same theme. ‘Nagitimu Sri Lanka’, or ‘Rise up Sri Lanka!’, was sung by some of Sri Lanka’s best-known singers in Sinhalese, Tamil and English. However, even these legends have been happily overshadowed.
And that’s because Gammadda asked ordinary people, to lend their voices to the song. And lend, they did. In their thousands. WhatsApp videos of Sri Lankans young and old, near and far began to flood in. A random search on youtube will result in thousands of home-made videos; an outpouring of creativity. TikTok went wild with lip-synced versions. Today it is the song of Sri Lanka. An anthem for hope amidst the uncertainty. A prayer for better days ahead.
And what’s perhaps most significant is the involvement of young Sri Lankans. The youth from all parts are singing this song. They are singing it in Sinhala, Tamil and English. They are singing it in Jaffna, in Galle in Batticaloa and in Gampaha. They are singing it up in the hills and they are even singing it overseas.
‘Nagitimu Sri Lanka’ seems to have captured a wave of hope amongst young Sri Lankans. A new wave. One of silent determination and perhaps most importantly, unity.
Gammadda is Sri Lanka’s largest grassroots development movement, operating in all 25 districts and 14,000+ GS divisions.
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