The Shared History of Britain and Burma

Thant Myint-U, grandson of U Thant (the third UN Secretary-General), had an article1 in the Telegraph last week that briefly outlined the British colonial legacy in Burma. He’s an excellent writer (I’ve been planning to read his book “The River of Lost Footsteps” for about 2 months):

When I visited Pantanaw in 2003, the town looked much like I imagine it had in the early years of the last century, with little wooden houses and shops, children playing everywhere and dirt roads lined with Tamarind trees and bouganvillea. My grandfather’s old school was still standing and I took tea with some of his former students, now well into their eighties. Distant relatives took me to see the town’s pagoda and Buddhist monasteries. A community that had first come together under British rule more than a hundred and fifty years ago had survived despite all the challenges.

With Cyclone Nargis, I’m not sure it will survive anymore.

It seems a strange time for him to mull over British-built buildings and streets at a time when much of the country has been devastated but there is something particularly depressing about the fading relics of colonialism in Pakistan, and maybe it’s the same in Burma.

1 Myint-U, Thant. (May 11, 2008). “The Shared History of Britain and Burma”. The Telegraph.


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