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Friday, 13 December, 2002, 16:27 GMT
UB40's concert for Sri Lanka
Members of UB40
UB40 say peace in Sri Lanka is an example to the world

British reggae group UB40 say the world should learn from Sri Lanka's peace process.

We are ambassadors for reggae music and reggae music is all about peace and love

Singer Ali Campbell
The group are in Colombo to give a concert for peace in Sri Lanka on Saturday night - the biggest of its kind here for more than a decade.

The organisers say the idea is to re-integrate Sri Lanka into the rest of the world after two decades of civil war and show that the island is now safe to visit.

UB40 say, as the United States is preparing for war against Iraq, Sri Lanka's peace struggle should be a role model for the rest of the world.

Invitation

Robbie Williams (left) and Ian Dury (centre) in Sri Lanka 1998
Singer Robbie Williams visited in 1998
The group, who have been together for the last 20 years, say they are a statement of cultural and racial integration in themselves and that is the politics they promote wherever they go.

UB40 have taken time off from recording a new album to come to Sri Lanka at the invitation of the government.

Lead guitarist Robin Campbell says many bands might have been reluctant to visit the island, which is better known for its suicide bombs than its love of reggae music.

But are they popular in Sri Lanka?

So far the band say an extraordinary number of people know their music, and because Sri Lanka has not had an act of their size for years, they say their arrival is causing uproar.

Song for peace

Minister of Commerce Ravi Karunanayake says this is the biggest band to visit Sri Lanka for more than a decade.

The concert is being simultaneously broadcast on screens in provincial towns in the conflict areas, including Jaffna.

The minister says he hopes UB40 will fall in love with Sri Lanka and write a peace song for the island.

Some might ask why Sri Lankans in the north and east need a foreign reggae band when many still do not have enough to eat or proper shelter.

But after decades of bombardment, curfew and fear, the organisers would argue they're ready for some entertainment too.


Peace efforts

Background

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See also:

13 Dec 02 | South Asia
11 Oct 01 | England
13 Sep 01 | Music
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