April 10 was the birthday of my late brother, Dr. A. C. S Hameed –‘Desa gurunan sala gedera’ Abdul Cader Shahul Hameed – who passed away on September 3, 1998.
He was born in the village of Kurugoda, in Akurana, and had his primary education at St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota, and his secondary education at Vijaya College, Matale.
My brother showed his gift for oratory at an early age. He was also very much involved in literary activities, including editing the school magazine, “New Broom”, which was widely read by students of Matale schools at the time.
My brother most likely acquired his love for politics from his mother’s brother, the late Hadji S. H. M. A. Abdul Cader, and the principal of Vijaya College, the late V. T. Nanayakkara, who represented Matale district in Parliament.
Harispattuwa is the second largest constituency next to Colombo Central, with a voting population of 140,000. A. C. S. Hameed knew his electorate well.
When his party came to power in 1977, he did everything he could to create a modern electorate. Roads and bridges were built, and electricity, pipe-borne water and more than 1,000 tube wells were provided.
He was a firm believer in education, and gave every school in the electorate two-storey buildings, laboratories and playgrounds. Every Maha Vidyalaya had a percussion band, which was the envy of the big schools in Kandy district.
He established a technical school in Yatiwawala, Harispattuwa for young people to gain practical skills in such fields as motor mechanics, electronics, computer studies, English, and juki machine operation.
A. C. S. Hameed had a deep respect for all religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. Just as he made contributions to mosques and Muslim places of worship, he contributed towards the upkeep of Buddhist and Hindu places of worship.
He built a “Seema Malekeya” at Waratenna, Hallouwa, which is probably the only place for the ordination of young monks in the Central Province. He also built two “Bauddha Bala Mandala” – one on Ranawana Road, Katugastota, and the other in Alawathugoda.
My brother was a soft-spoken, kind-hearted and sympathetic person. He was extremely warm to everyone he met.
His smile was his greatest asset. My brother would greet everyone with his pleasant smile. He would recognise people from all parts of his electorate, and even remember them by name. He would never send anyone from his office without giving a positive response or offering a glimmer of hope. If he promised to do something, it would be done, immediately or later.
I have fond memories of my dear brother enjoying a king-sized cigar and talking politics with his constituents. The Harispattuwa election office was like a carnival scene whenever he was present – with people flocking in day and night and buses lined up to take people to the more remote parts of Harispattuwa.
When he passed away, the Harispattuwa community held an all-night pirith for him at the Katugastota Bauddha Bala Mandalaya, which he had built, and gave a dana in his name. There were 77 Buddhist priests present, and they were presented with 108 “ata pirikalaya”. This was a historic event in Sri Lanka’s political history, with such large numbers gathered to chant pirith and offer dana for a leader who had managed, in his own way, to unite all ethnic communities.
May the God Almighty find him a place in Jennathul Firdous (Heaven).
By A.C. A. Ghafoor