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Old 17-12-20, 01:57 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Unique Stroke! The Inaugural Royal-Thomian in 1889


Unique Stroke! The Inaugural Royal-Thomian in 1889

Thuppahi Blog August 24, 2020



S. Thomas' College has recently brought out a remarkable publication called Thomian National Heroes of Sri Lanka . It is the brainchild of Lakmini de Silva, the Teacher-in-Charge of the Political Science Society of STC, and the outcome of the efforts of the Student Committee led by Uthsara Dunusinghe whom the Warden, Reverend Marc Billimoria describes as the ?live wire behind the project."

The two hundred page book is a collection of essays on nineteen old boys who were national leaders and statesmen. They cover distinguished old boys from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Each biography is separately authored, and in most cases written by a contemporary descendant of the Old Boy. The book has a number of rare old photographs of those documented, as well as of other relevant places and events.

A distinguished old boy and one of Sri Lanka's pre-eminent economists, Dr Nimal Sanderaratne served as Chief Editor of the publication, providing it with the literary and scholarly excellence that will impress readers.

The pen sketches begin with Sir James William Maduwanwela Disawe who was a student at STC Mutuwal in 1857, six years after it was established. As Maha Disawe he had considerable administrative and judicial powers which he used for the common good. As a Country Squire he focused on improving the lives of the people of the Sabaragamuwa Province. He established four village schools in Wijeriya, Kolonna, Kumburugamuwa and Muladiyawala which are still functioning. He also established and served as patron of Buddhist temples.

Another interesting biography is that of Anagarika Dharmapala who joined STC in 1878 during the time of Warden Miller. He had an impressive life as an ascetic, a religious reformer, a global crusader and a national leader.

The book covers a wide array of notable personalities including prime ministers, ministers, leaders of the independence movement, legislators, businessmen, Civil Servants, and political leaders and reformers. They hailed from every community and religious group represented in the country.

The youngest of the old boys to have earned a place among these distinguished sons of Sri Lanka is CP De Silva. After graduating with first class mathematics special degrees from the University College of Ceylon and the University of London, he entered the prestigious Civil Service. He pioneered the restoration of ancient reservoirs in the Dry Zone as well as the construction of the Gal Oya Project and at the age of thirty seven was appointed Director of Land Development. He thereafter entered politics and was Leader of the House during the prime ministership of another distinguished Old Thomian, SWRD Bandaranaike.

During the March 1960 General Election, the College Magazine predicted that regardless of which party was successful, the next prime minister would be a Thomian. This was because all the major political parties at that election were led by Thomians. CP De Silva (SLFP), Dudley Senanayake (UNP), W. Dahanayake (LPP), NM Perera (LSSP) and SJV Chelvanayakam (FP). This remarkable situation highlighted the pre-eminent place that Old Thomians held in Sri Lanka's political life.

Published and distributed by Vijitha Yapa Publications the book is priced at Rs 1,000. I was fortunate to obtain a copy from my S. Thomas' Prep School classmate Ashrof Farouk, who went on to have his secondary education at Royal. But once a Thomian, always a Thomian.

Jayantha Somasundaram, Canberra

STC: 1962-68 De Saram House

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