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Good old days at Ananda - 1940-51

I was admitted to Ananda College, Colombo by my father after meeting the Principal, P. de S. Kularatne, a great educationist. I was in the Primary school hostel. Classes were from Kindergarten to Matriculation.
There were about 150 boarders in the College Hostel coming from all parts of Sri Lanka. The hostel had senior, intermediate, junior and a ‘baby’ dormitory. I was in the last one and an ayah looked after us. All the boarders belonged to Asoka House, named after Emperor Asoka of India. We had to wake up at 5 a.m., as the bell boy went round the dormitories. After our preliminaries, we had to study till 7 a.m. in the dining hall. Classes started at 8 a.m. and went on till 1 p.m. with a tea break.

The main meals were rice and curry with ‘parippu’ served daily. We had to use the fork and spoon. For breakfast we had hoppers. There were ‘specials’ on Sundays. It was tea, bread and jam in the afternoons. We had to rest in our dormitories from 2 - 3 pm. Thereafter we were engaged in cadetting, cricket, football, tennis, etc. till evening. We also had a ‘mat-slide’ and a ‘giant’s stride’, to enjoy. After these activities we returned to the hostel for a wash, and study till dinner. By 9 p.m. in bed till next morning.
There was a ‘tuck-shop’ for those who wanted extras! There was a sick-room as well, and the college doctor attended on the sick on a regular basis.
The routine life at hostel and college were well managed. P. S. Nawaratne was the Warden, assisted by a few resident masters. The boarding fee was Rs.27.50 per head, for a month.
Every Sundays, boarders had to worship at the College Shrine Room and listen to a short sermon by the almost resident Buddhist monk Tabbowe Sasanawansa Thera.
Milk supply to the hostel was from the Ananda College farm (dairy) at Narahenpita. Perera and Sons supplied bread in bulk for afternoon tea.
The Ananda-Nalanda Cricket Match was played every year on a grand scale for 2 days.

World War II was raging in the West and East. This war affected Sri Lanka massively. There was disruption to food supply, education, transportation, etc.
Many school buildings including Ananda College were commandeered by the British Military. A. B Perera was the Principal. Classes were conducted in cadjan sheds in the same College premises as the main buildings were used by the military.
At this time the hostel was housed in an old large bungalow at Hedges Court, Maradana and there were only about 30 boarders.
Due to a change of Principalship of the College, towards the latter part of 1945 a “strike” was organised by the senior students, where most of the other students joined. This hostel was the main location of the ‘strike committee’ consisting some senior boarders and day-scholars.
As the strike was on, a fire broke out in the school premises and destroyed all our classrooms, which were in cadjan sheds, even the College Office and Library got destroyed, with so many valuable books and documents. It was an in irreparable loss to Buddhist Education. The culprits were never traced.

By now the war had ended, College buildings were gradually handed over, and the hostel recommenced at the permanent blocks. L. H. Mettananda was our new Principal and D. C. Munasinghe (Chemistry Master) the Warden, with a few resident masters, to assist him.
In the hostel we had a Boarders’ Goodwill Fraternity, where meetings were held every month to enhance our knowledge in debating and story telling. Once I too was the Secretary in it. It was nick named “Patalena” Meeting. There was a Magazine too namely “The Asokian” published by the boarders for their goodwill. Not only boarders had nick names, even the hostel peons were not spared, names like ‘aspro’ and ‘bada’.
Hostellers were allowed to go home for weekends, whenever their parents. There were also sets of Brothers in the hostel. There were prefects in charge of each dormitory and I was one of them.

Cadetting was a serious activity at Ananda, as part of the education. There were 3 platoons, senior and 2 juniors; Col G. W. Rajapakshe was OIC Contingent. 75% of the cadets were hostellers. There was a miniature rifle range behind the hostel building where we practiced shooting with .22 rifles. Ananda was in the forefront in all Island competitions and won the Herman Loos and Milleres Challenge, Cups many times, and also came first in hut inspections at the annual training camps at Diyatalawa, where I was able to participate.

I remember, one year during the Drama competition at Diyatalawa camp, Ananda platoon presented a drama relating to King Gajaba, bringing double the prisoners from South India. The Chief Guest was Sir John Kotalawala, being a Military person, he was quite impressed, and awarded First Prize to Ananda.
The two week stay at DLA was very interesting (getting up at 4.00 am) was invigorating and many cadets returning brought back high sense of dedication, discipline and national feeling.

In my opinion, this solid Ananda tradition in cadetting produced force-commanders in subsequent years and Ananda made a notable and deep contribution to the National Security and Defence.
When Sri Lanka gained independence, Ananda had its own celebration on the grounds next to Olcott Hall, as part of national celebrations. These spotlighted the main historical events coming of Vijaya up to Independence.
The 1815 Kandyan Convention was one such epic event. Col. B. J. Wijemanne M. E. Fernando and 2/Lt C. M. Weeraratne were incharge.

They selected me to act as British Governor, Lt. General Sir Robert Brownrigg. In preparation for this role I had to face many problems. The foremost being the uniform suitable to a Lt. Governor.
In order to solve the problem, I prevailed upon my classmate to bring his father’s white uniform and polo hat (CMC Inspector). I borrowed the Sam Brown belt etc from Col. Rajapakshe, turned out a sword and scabbards from cardboard, epaulettes, several medals (to wear on coat), pasted 2 long voicle red stripes on the longs, with red plumes on hat.

Now with this paraphernalia, I stepped on to the stage to accept the annexation of the Kandyan Kingdom. There were thousands on the grounds; students, old boys, parents of students and the general public. Having seen various episodes, the glorious past of the Sinhalese race, the audience was highly emotional.
After taking the signatures from over 10 ‘Adigars’ and ‘Nilames’, I brought down the Lion Flag and hoisted the Union Jack, and saluted while ‘God Save the King’ was played. At this moment part of the audience hooted at the Governor (in royal style). It was clear that the hooting was for the British Governor and not to the actor.
In conclusion, I wish to state that I may have missed certain events, as it’s more than half a century and hope I would be forgiven by any of the readers.
G. S Gunasekera (1940 - 51)




Ending Executive Presidency

This reply is forwarded on the premise that it is not the people of Sri Lanka who plan to bring about the end of the Executive Presidency, but schemers, organsations and individuals of many a hue, local and foreign who will benefit in diverse ways including the feathering of their nests, in the absence of the Executive Presidency. Many slippery, wily individuals benefited in numerous ways by the Cease Fire Agreement of 2001 sponsored by Norway and signed slyly by the Prime Minister of that time, with the insurgent leader Prabahkaran of the LTTE, giving a carte blanche outright gift of land to set up a Sovereign Tamil Homeland, within the Sovereign Republic of Sri Lanka. Many foreign countries and organisations, including the religious, ostensibly deplored the battle - while craftily suggesting talks with the band of terrorists to arrive at an amicable settlement that would have split the country to two warring factions that would have benefited countries that supplied arms.
The Executive President is the custodian of the sovereignty of the Nation. Looking around the world all successful countries are ruled by authoritarian leaders, benevolently. One leading man encourages loyal advisers around him to secure their assistance in governance. Malaysia, Singapore, Cuba, Egypt, Iran are examples. The two House British system is slow lethargic and lackadaisical encouraging lobbying and corruption as the Iron Lady Thatcher found to her dismay.

The thirty year insurgency ended in May 2009 when the President unilaterally discarded talks and got the gun to talk. A flaw in the Constitution is the inclusion of 13th and 17th Amendments and the absence of a clause to impeach the President if his administration fell foul with the people. A glaring error! That faux pas is used by critics to agitate for a constitutional change. The 13th Amendment is an Indian plant under duress, by none other than Rajiv Ghandi, Prime Minister of India - an act that has drained the funds that would have been available for the development of Sri Lanka. It fortified the figment and subsequent nightmare of the Tamil Homeland, Eelam. Thousand laid down their lives for that faux pas. The amendment provided leeway to split the country! The 17th Amendment provided committees that were an opening to stultify, curb and clip the powers of the President, by some bureaucrats, who manned the committees. A President should have unfettered access to governance. “Checks and balances” could be exercised by Parliament, if the President overstepped the powers which the people gave him; Parliament houses representatives of the people! For a country to rise and shine it should have a leader free of strings that will turn him into a puppet controlled by backstage puppeteers. Parliament is a ‘Talk Shop’ engaged in garrulous gibberish, though it does provide a platform for the desired ‘checks and balances’. The Presidential system is criticised and feared, not by the citizenry but by aspiring grasping politicians who know that the seat cannot be bought or acquired by designing politicians. A Prime Minister post within Parliament can be bought, but not the Presidency, that is a national choice though foreign countries do seek to subjugate a country for their nefarious needs.

Both Chandrika and Mahinda did promise the abolishment of the executive presidency but both later found it a convenient handle in governance. Mahinda Rajapaksa will not surely resort to such senseless stupidity, though political aspirants who sense that they could never achieve reaching the top post will lobby for its abolition - an act which will be anti Sri Lanka. Foreign countries and local pressure groupings will find Parliament a manipulative plaything, but the Executive Presidency is a hard nut to crack; though the previous incumbent did drag the one time ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ in the dust, where she wallowed in as a student in the Sorbonne. It was respect for her illustrious parents, that she wasn’t publicly disgraced. Her Waters Edge fiasco drove her to the Fonseka bandwagon. Mahinda can command a two thirds majority but will not use it to abolish the Presidency, for that is what helps him in pursuing his Chintanaya, which will turn Lanka to an Asian Economic Tiger and a cynosure of the world. The author and architect of the 1978 Constitution, J. R. Jayewardena commented that the only limiting factor in the Constitution was that it would not permit him to make a man a woman or vice versa. Mahinda using the same power will make Mother Lanka the most adorable mother in the world. A cynosure Sarath Fonseka using the swan as his symbol is together with the JVP singing their swansong for they will soon go off the political firmament dragging the UNF with it, making Sri Lanka a one-party State, with no Opposition to hold it back in its journey to Utopia. The World Tamil Diaspora’s hopes to carve out an ‘Eelam’ in the North and East of Lanka will sink. However, the Mahinda Chintanaya proposes to convert the entirety of the country to an Eelam, a homeland for all Sri Lankans, whatever be their religion or ethnicity. Lanka was under the heel of Western blood suckers, until it won independence, and the British left.
Fonseka, an American green cardholder, is the Trojan horse, in the invidious attempt of the West to once again to bring to heel the country that will be the future hub of all World Commerce, bringing in a salubrious breadth of fresh air, of which the West too will have large draughts. Sinhala Kings sat traitors on spikes, giving them ample time to reminisce on their perfidy.

Denzil Perera
Mt. Lavinia


Protect our children

The foreign paedophiles menace rise its ugly head again stealthy in the costal belt villages of Western Province.
The information sources reveal that the children of low income families have been victims to those, pedophiles through local tents and agents.
The vastly effected tourist areas are Kalutara, Payagala, Beruwala, Alutgama and Bentota. Some paedophiles foreigners are residing in local houses which have been sponsored to build on their own expenses in collaboration with local touts and absorb on their notorious activities.
These mala-fide foreigners are molesting the juvenile for commercial purposes pornography and spoil their future, as well as cultural values of our nation.
When complaints are made to the police and relevant authorities regarding incidents of child abusing it has been always a deaf ear.
Most probably, some of these foreign tourists possess expired visas and staying illegally, hence, investigation and prosecution branch attached to the Department of Immigration and Emigration has a main role to be carried out mahout laziness. Please apprehend those illegal visa holders and deport them at your earliest convenience whatever may be their status.
Besides the national Child Protection Authority and the Ministry for Social Services, have great responsibilities to be curbed these malpractices which ruin our country.

C. M. Kamburawala


Darling of the grassroots

Your article on last sunday’s paper indicated you have given publicity to Premedasa’s view only some bias.
Why is a deputy leader elected? He is the next suitable to be leader. I have not seen Karu Jayasuriya except via the media but I have seen his performance when he was the Mayor, Colombo. Experience wise he has more to be reckoned with.
President Premadasa before became the leader wars an MMC, Deputy Minister, Minister, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and Prime Minister. So, young Premadasa has struck the correct note to replace RW but not by himself right now. RW should follow Holmes the UK PM who lost and humble enough to be Foreign Minister. There is no pint in rushing to India to consult astrologers.

Astrologer Royal


Why, oh why?

With the Presidential election over, we can see that that the President is accusing ex-Army Chief and vice versa. I don’t understand why the President is accusing the former Army Commander now, when the President himself promoted him as the Chief of Defence Services no sooner the war was over? As for the Commander, why didn’t he come out with the expose, which he is revealing now, when he was with the government? What would have been the scenario had he been still with the government? Over to the readers for their valuable comments, as I’m a bit confused with the present conduct of both - not only with SF but also MR.
Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3


Nilame Uncle: Remembered forever

My mobile started beeping in the middle of the night, my sister in-law, Dushi, was at the other end. Calling at that time made me suspicious of something unusual. I held the mobile phone closely to my ear with trembling fingers. She started talking to me casually but after sometime, she broke out with sobs saying, “Akki, “Nilame Uncle has passed away”.

I just couldn’t believe. When I called my Dad earlier, he said that Nilame Uncle who had been hospitalised for a minor complication was in full spirits. He even willingly had partaken the home-cooked meal which my Dad had taken for him. Two days earlier when I visited him in hospital, except of a slight cough which disturbed him from time to time he was quite alright. When he noted that I too had a cough, his fatherly concern for me prompted, with a quick advice, “Putha” take treatment for that cough immediately, otherwise, you too will have to visit the hospital like me”. I assured him about treatment which relieved him. I sighted it in his sincere smile which he spontaneously assumed on his lips.

Though we called him Nilame Uncle, his name was Nilame Wanigasekara. He was married to my paternal aunt, Sumana. Nilame Uncle was the uncrowned king in our family circle, who ranked the highest social and professional positions. Everybody including my parents confide him for guidance, wisdom and inspiration.
I remember, many years ago, sitting on his lap as a kid when he visited our ancestral house to court my aunt. Clinging to his neck and kissing him all over his face I wouldn’t leave his lap until he gave me the chocolate bar he had been hiding somewhere to tease me. This is because he knew that once he gave me that chocolate, I would have run away with it. He enjoyed the company of kids.

Even before marriage, Uncle Nilame was a social worker. He was involved in the Cooperative Movement, specifically the Thrift and Credit Cooperative Societies popularly known as Sanasa. He didn’t make money, and didn’t feel economic hardships because the kitchen fires were burnt by the income which Aunt Sumana was making from her job at the Bank of Ceylon. Family finances being looked after that way, he was able to devote full time for the promotion of the Cooperative Movement which was very much closer to his mind. All children were his children for him, and all human beings were his relatives. All kids in the family circle were looked after by him as if it was his own children. When he went to India on a cooperative business, he brought me my very fist electronic wrist watch. I use it even today and cannot stop tearing while looking at it. Uncle Nilame rose from position to position in the Sanasa Movement. He was loved and admired by all for his integrity, humbleness, modesty, and uprightness.

He was a local official at the start and then the Provincial Head and finally a national figure. When Sanasa set up its own Development Bank, he became the Chairman after sometime, and when it expanded to other areas as printing, insurance and education became the leader of all these, sometimes holding the position of the head.
He was just 64 years when he left all of us, which was not an age for a person to depart. Our close family members were all devastated by his sudden demise. So were the thousands of Sanasa volunteers who had known him as one of their leading figures. When his body was lying in state in his modest abode, crowds drawn from all over the country gathered to pay their last respects day and night, with sympathy and grief.
My uncle did not accumulate physical wealth. He lived in an old house which is primitive by modern standards. Despite being a Chairman of a National Bank, he didn’t own a vehicle. He enjoyed moving about on his old motor bike just like a teenager. But he had accumulated things which will remain forever, wealth: wisdom, people, goodwill, and reputation. Those who delivered the funeral orations at his funeral were all unanimous on this single point.

We miss our Uncle Nilame. So do thousands of people in the Sanasa Movement. He is no more with us, but his name will be remembered forever.
This is the best tribute which a loving niece can pay him.
Thilini Sumudu Kumari


Al-Haj Marhoom Wiyaz Moulavi

The entire Muslim Community was deeply shocked by the untimely death of Presidential Advisor on Muslim Affairs Marhoom Niyaz Moulavi. Marhoom Niyaz Moulavi always stood for a united country and worked towards the country’s interests at heart.
Al-Haj Marhoom Wiyaz Moulavi rendered an unforgettable service to the entire Islamic Community of this country during his long tenure as the Chairman of the Ihsaaniya Arabic Madrasa. He directed his wide knowledge on his own religion Islam, other parallel religions and his abilities in aesthetic studies to develop a worthy nation. Marhoom Niyaz Moulavi not only had extensive knowledge on teachings of Prophet Mohamed (Sallal Lahu Alai-Hiwasallam), he also possess an extraordinary knowledge about other religions as well.
The vacuum created by his passing away will be hard to fill.
He is still with us.

Mohideen Fairooze
Mohideen Akram Lezmi
New Moor Street




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