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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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The boy from Hakmana who made it to the top

The small city of Hakmana lies 18 miles interior from the coastal big city of Matara. Have these cities sprung to fame newly? No. These Southern cities spangled in glory even during the famed regime of Rohana desha from where a prince marched Northwards as early as the Before Christ years to secure "unto the Sinhala race their due priority".

In fact legend has it that King Detuthis chose Hakmana as his seat of power. However, Father Time rode swiftly by. Years rolled by, centuries rolled by. History itself orchestrated many somersaults and along with the rest of the country, the territory around succumbed to the foreign yoke.

The Star Fort of Matara today sprawls as a symbol of the colonial hegemony. In 1948 tables turned again and the voyage towards freedom was sleek unlike in India where it was bloody.


Wimal Rubasinghe,
Chairman SLRC

Yet the fight was somewhat challenging. Reins of power glided from the White man to the ones suppressed and oppressed by three colonial rulers.

That could be an exaggerated statement for not all suffered. In fact many of the upper rungs of the native Lankan society profited by colonialism for they were allowed to pick the most savoury pieces fallen from the imperialist table. English language went on to become the Kaduwa that favoured the upper and and upper middle class while cutting the necks of the struggling masses.

The offspring of those born with the proverbial silver spoons, were afforded admission to the superior schools that thrived on the foreign language and the brainiest of the lot were chosen to the foreign universities of the West to make the "alienation" process complete.

Social revolution

But slowly, surely set in a social revolution spearheaded by nationalists and educationists that provided scope for the native intelligentsia to spring up and shed their lustre.

Many are those who fall into this list including Wimal Rubasinghe , who today heads the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. He is so modest about himself that he may actually disown the position that the writer ascribes to him.

The latest to rise from the rustic and pastoral landscapes to the galaxy of intellectuals of Lanka. Why use that word "intellectual" as an alternative to the word bureaucrat? For Wimal Rubasinghe (WR) is really an intellectual by himself. He prefers to be introduced as a writer.

His stuff is the local stuff, that stuff that moulds the man and woman who parades our roads and fields and valleys daily, whose sweat goes into the transformation of the green stalks into those bearing the golden seeds of paddy. Then there are the poor who live by the sweat of varied manual hardwork. He hankers after them and after those who appreciate them.

Experience

I met WR at an assembly held in the Royal Asiatic Society premises.

He was then Secretary to the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, if I remember correct.

Not only the highest elements of intellectualism were embedded in him but the lowest and most admirable levels of humility, I must say, have gone into the making of WR.

I have been curious about this gentleman some ten years plus my junior in age but who has continuously climbed up and up not by sheer bureaucratic aggression but by the gift of gods who befriend pure souls always veering towards the good and the positive and the constructive.

His father was the village Veda mahaththaya (along with his maternal grandfather) who mustered much respect but were satisfied with their lot.

The father never wanted his children to reach the stars but two of them went quite a distance along that route.

The second in the family, WR had his primary and secondary education at Hakmana Methodist College and Kongala Maha Vidyalya.

Beginning his career as a teacher, he passed his clerical examinations and entered the Civil Service with flying colours.

Getting his first appointment as AGA of the Weeraketiya division, he went on to become the Divisional Secretary of Pitabeddara, Kotapola, Akmeemana, and Welipitiya.

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training he got the most suitable job so far (since he had started writing too) ie. the post of Senior Asst.Secretary of Media.

He was also appointed Additional Commissioner of the Motor Traffic Dept. Then on to the post of Secretary of the ministry of Culture and National Heritage and then Secretary, Culture and the Arts.

He become Chairman, National Environmental Authority.

And today he is chairman, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation.

As for his academic achievements, he holds a degree from Sri Jayewardenepura University, a Diploma in Journalism from the Colombo University and a Diploma in Management from the Open University.

He continued his studies in Birmingham University, London on Enhancing the Performance of Public Service and a Management Diploma from the SL Institute of Development Administration.

With all that or in spite of all that he acts as a Registered Ayurvedic Medical Practitioner and as a professional trainer in Management in the Southern Province.

Who says that life is too short for more than one activity? Wimal Rubasinghe's career tale belies that. And as reiterated, he is a writer too.

These are his works, all in Sinhala media Kolamba Kaviya (Colombo poetry), Divi Gamanaka Aswenna (Harvest of the Journey of Life),(could be his own), Prabodhani (Stimuli), Vana Osu Wavamu, Suvasetha Sandamu (Let us cultivate wild curative plants and enhance our health). In addition, he is the editor of varied magazines and journals. In 1998 a magazine edited by him on Management won an islandwide competition.

Why did I bother to list all this? To demonstrate what a lot a man can achieve within his normal lifespan (he is 64 years). And all of it is fragrant with goodness and utility value.

Human life is precious but today many a man and woman and even some children for that matter fritter their lives away and even end their lives on utterly insignificant issues that can be easily solved.

Providing information on such worthwhile lives no doubt acts as a boon and salve and as a very positive catalyst.

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