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DOCUMENTARY: “Kaffir Culture” by Kannan Arunasalam.
In some parts of the world, the word ‘kaffir’, an Arabic term meaning ‘infidel’, is or was used as a derogatory racially offensive term in reference to black people. Used during the Arab slave trade, the it was later adopted by various European communities, such as the Dutch and Portuguese, to refer to the Africans they kidnapped and enslaved.
Through the enslavement of black people from the African continent to other parts of the world, the word found its way to Sri Lanka where it was used to describe the descendents of Africans brought there by Portuguese enslavers and British colonists from around the 16th century. But where in South Africa the world still carries a negative connotation even amongst black people, Sri Lankan kaffirs use the term boldly as a descriptor and a way of acknowledging their East African roots and heritage.
In this short documentary, filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam tells the story of a small group of Sri Lankan kaffirs, many of whom are mixed, and their struggle to keep their culture alive as their community shrinks.
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