The Independence Print Exhibition

The Independence Print Exhibition

An exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka was organized by the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Arts in collaboration with the Awarelogue Initiative, was held at the Boardroom of Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo on 1st of February.

The exhibition was inaugurated by the Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo, Senior Professor Chair. H.D. Karunarathne, in the presence of Acting Dean of Faculty of Arts Professor Chandana Aluthge, Professor Emeritus Amal Jayawardena , Senior professor Nayani Melegoda, Mrs. Sajeewa Rathnayaka, Heads of Departments and administrative staff of Faculty of Arts, and other distinguished invitees. Staff and students of the Department of International Relations led by Head of the Department Professor Chaminda Padmakumara hosted the event.


04th February 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence from colonial rule and is an opportune moment to reflect on that which has been, and look ahead while learning from history. This milestone is a moment for reflection, and more importantly for strategizing for the future. The Awarelogue Initiative, which was initiated in 2021 to enhance awareness and generate dialogue in the field of International Relations and its associated spheres, presents this curated exhibition of print information surrounding the period of independence. It consists of original newspapers, covering  three areas, namely Independence Overshadowed; Pageantry of Independence; and A New Era.

The first segment focuses on articles related to pre-Independence developments, notably the assassination of Mahathma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, which cast a pale over the independence celebrations in neighbouring Ceylon, as it sent shockwaves around the region and world. Similarly, the falling price of rubber was to have a negative impact on the Balance of Trade, as prices of essentials, such as bread increased at this juncture.

The second segment explores the pageantry associated with the commemoration of freedom. While the main focus was on the royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, who visited Ceylon a few days after independence, the celebrations continued around the island, with people being made aware of the significance of the freedom that had been won, so as to instill a sense of pride and fulfilment for that which had been achieved after much struggle.

The third segment emphasizes another significant anniversary being marked in 2023, which is the introduction of the second Republican Constitution on Independence Day in 1978. Whilst the country has seen numerous constitutional changes, the current constitution remains the longest in existence since independence.

The L. S. W. Pathirathne Collection

The Independence Print Exhibition draws from many newspapers found in the L. S. W. Pathirathne Collection. An avid collector of newspapers connected with key events in the initial decades of independence, his efforts have resulted in a Collection that provides much insight into a bygone era. Curated by Dr George I. H. Cooke, Initiator of the Awarelogue Initiative, this exhibition highlights some of the key aspects connected with independence. Whether viewing the exhibition for details of

occurrences during the time of independence or exploring the rationale for decisions taken, and the environment in which policies were formulated, the exhibits collectively ensure the generating of wider awareness and deeper dialogue.