7th January 2001
Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Business|
Sports| Mirror Magazine
The Sunday Times on the Web

Remembering two intellectual giants

Two eminent alumni of Richmond College, Galle, Prof. E. F. C. Ludowyke and Herbert Keuneman will be commemorated by two new memorial prizes to be awarded at the school annually, under a Trust established by the late Silva in his last will. Mr. de Silva, a founder vice president of the Richmond Union, Colombo, placed the Trust in the custody of the Union. Mr. de Silva was a leading figure in the world of books.

Prof. E.F.C Ludowyke, after a school career at Richmond, where his father had been headmaster from 1916 to 1935, joined the staff of the University College (later, the University of Ceylon). In the 1940s, he was Professor of English at the Ceylon University. Some of the intellectual elite of Sri Lanka, many of whom are at the pinnacles of professional and public life today, were his pupils. He later settled down in England, but continued to maintain contact with Sri Lanka. He wrote three books on Sri Lanka: "The footprint of the Buddha", "The Story of Ceylon" and the "Modern History of Ceylon". Prof. Ludowyke was one of the most inspiring figures in intellectual and academic life in Sri Lanka during his time.

Under the inspiration and direction of Prof. Ludowyke and several other great teachers, Richmond was famed for its traditions of drama and music. Among these great teachers was Herbert Keuneman. Mr. Keuneman played a major part in the activities of the famous Apollo Club of Richmond along with the multi-faceted Major A. F. de Saa Bandaranaike (who was the headmaster of Richmond Primary, and later Royal Primary). Among the several plays staged by the Club, apart from Shakespearean Drama, were "The Child of Flanders", "The Bishop's Candlestick", "Tom Sawyer", "The Invisible Duke", Domestic Troubles", and the Sinhala play "Ralahamy" written by the late Mr. W.A. Lanerolle of the staff. Mr. Keuneman is remembered with affection by his pupils, especially those who were members of the Apollo Club and Choir.

Among those who adorned the Apollo Club, most of whom were pupils of Ludowyke and Keuneman were V.L. Wirasinghe and his brother Shelton Wirasinghe, Percy Colin Thome, Dr. H.A.I. (Ian) Goonetileke, Colin de Silva, Mr. Ellis Grenier, Allan de Saa Banadaranaike, Louka Musoka, the Uganda Chieftan's son who had a rich baritone voice, Caxton Njuki from Kenya, H.M. Samaraweera, Revd. Shelton and Mr. Ivor de Silva.

Let Drieberg's 'lamp of life' shine on

By A.S Balaratnam

One hundred and twenty five years is a milestone in the life of any institution. It is remarkable when the institution happens to be an educational one, which plays a leading role in moulding future citizens with a sound sense of responsibility, honesty, tolerance, discipline, equality and other worthy characteristics necessary to build a just and free society.

Drieberg College, my alma mater can proudly claim that she had lived up to these ideals during the past 125 years. The motto 'The Lamp of Life" and the emblem, the 'Shield of Love' are well embedded in the hearts and souls of her sons and daughters who had the privilege of passing through her portals.

Realising the necessity of educating the children of the residents in and around Chavakachcheri in the English medium, the then magistrate of the area, the late Mr. Drieberg started a small unit of learning. The American Missionaries welcomed this idea and founded Drieberg English School in 1875. This was really a God-send to many residents of Thenmaradchy. Despite many odds and handicaps, Drieberg English School blossomed into Drieberg College.

At the beginning there was no primary section. Classes were held from the first year to Senior School Certificate (SSC), equivalent to the present G.C.E (Ordinary) Level. English was the medium of instruction. The emphasis in the curriculum was more on three 'R's - reading, writing and arithmetic.

In the late Forties, Sinnathamby Memorial Training College, which was situated adjacent to Drieberg was shifted to Nallur, Jaffna. This move resulted in the amalgamation of the Practising School with Drieberg College. This section became the primary school known as the Lower School. Here classes from lower kindergarten to fifth standard were held under the administration of the principal. The first headmaster of the primary section of the college, the late V. V. Kandiah, contributed greatly towards the development of the college.

My association with Drieberg College as student, assistant teacher and deputy principal spans a period of almost half a century (1940 - 1990). I am happy that the major part of my life was spent in serving her to the best of my ability which she so richly deserved. Santham, my wife was on the staff of the college and our wedding reception was held at the College quadrangle. My children are alumni of Drieberg. Hence my respect, affection, loyalty and concern for Drieberg are natural, and I consider her as my second mother.

As students at Drieberg, we enjoyed the fun, frolic, fellowship and schoolboy pranks. The boarding house for staff and students had been a blessing to many, particularly for those who came from distant places such as Vavuiuniya, Medawachchiya, Karachi, Mannar, and Pachilaipallai districts.

A major drawback then and now is the lack of a proper playground for sports and games. Mahilankerni grounds about a quarter of a mile from the college was formerly used. Children had to march to the ground daily during sports season. Temporary cadjan sheds were put up and the necessary sports equipment, furniture, drinking water had to be transported up and down daily which was cumbersome and expensive. Nevertheless the enthusiasm and sporting spirit of the participants overcame these drawbacks and the standard of their achievement was rewarding.

Of late, encroachment by poachers has deprived the college of this playground. I hope the present administration will give priority to finding a playground for the college in the near future.

An article on Drieberg is not complete without a reference to the late K.S. Saravanamuthu (K.S.S), who served as Principal for nearly 25 years. His vision, down-to-earth approach to problems and genuine compassion and concern towards students, endeared him to all, both teachers and students.

Let the " Lamp of Life" continue to shine brightly.

Loss of identity, security and trust

Book review

In the Garden Secretly And Other Stories By Jean Arasanayagam

The back cover describes the collection as "seven brilliant stories about war and rebellion, displacement and dispossession..." and Jean Arasanayagam delivers what is promised. This is the strife-torn Sri Lanka behind the violent, screaming headlines and TV clips showing columns of soldiers/rebels marching through the forests, each one of them intent on fulfilling their chosen mission. In In the Garden, one finds the people who end up as statistics in newspapers and government records, or live in fear that they might.

Living in times of war is tough: Worse, perhaps, is a separatist movement which mercilessly divides and carves up not only land and people but life itself. Imagine living - day in and day out - through a conflict that steals your identity, or distorts it with a grotesque nomenclature of its own.

It is these realities that Arasanayagam explores and bring to focus a moment, or time-frame in the lives of her narrators who are trying their best to survive this time of change - "violent change" - as best as they can.

Starting right in the heart of the forests in the north of the island which has witnessed hundreds of thousands of deaths in the nearly two decades of violence for a separate Tamil homeland, In the Garden Secretly is the story of a young pilot. Confronted with an abandoned house and a damaged statue of Christ in the war-ravaged town, he wonders what it is that he is doing in a land that is supposed to be his own, yet is so far removed from his reality and that of his family from the south.

In The Crossing, the journey undertaken by two very different people is a difficult transition, again between the two very different worlds on the island nation: "I travel with my double identity, but as I journey south, I feel myself slipping into the one which enables me to live at peace with the others at the university. How can I say that they are not of my kind? Yet we are divided, our oneness cracking under the weight of history." The confession is at the heart of the south-north, us-them dichotomy that mars the country and those who must travel back and forth between the two worlds.

Arasanayagam expertly stretches this dichotomy in Search My Mind and Quail's Nest. In the latter, a teacher in a mixed marriage finds that there is no identity for her family any more. In an us-against-them scenario, it is dangerous to be a part of both worlds instead of bringing a communal security, it turns into a dispossessing, double-edged liability, especially for the children.

But war and revolution are not the only dispossessors. Arasanayagam's other stories The Wall, Sanctuary and Samsara sensitively portray other kinds of dispossession: the loss of security in what used to be a refuge, the loss of rights to land that is the identity of human-kind, the loss of trust within a community, all extremely debilitating in an already fragile society.

Index Page
Front Page
Mirrror Magazine

More Plus

Return to Plus Contents


Plus Archives

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Mirror Magazine

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.
Hosted By LAcNet