Wish You Good Luck, Brother…. But…

kck1

Surely, an extremely talented young Kingswoodian: someone who has made it this far in a talent contest. We wish him all the best in the competition, even though these type of competitions are bad for youngsters (“Superstar” mentality is not a quality a school should promote).

But, the more important question is —- does this board belong here? Does this “begging board” belong in front of the college?

The Prefects We Need

If the stories are true, in the late 1980s, when state-sponsored crackdowns on young men and women was at their height, many Kingswood boys would opt to spend the night at school, without going back to their homes. At times like that, some of the Prefects who were active in the years 1987 and 1988 are also said to have stayed back with the boys. The name of one of the Senior Prefects of the “Bheeshana Samaya” is specially mentioned in his commitment to curb violence from entering school — both from the government paramilitary and the JVP.

In the early 1990s, when I was a young student of Kingswood College, we had a very exclusive Prefects’ Court which we looked up to with a sense of awe. In one of these Prefects’ Courts I remember a very small made “aiya” by the name of Wijesiri, who was an artist and was very good at drawings and such. He used to live close to the house I lived in back then for a few years, and lived the life of an artiste, living simple and with the people. He often drew boards and signs for villagers without a charge. Wijesiri, as I remember, died sometime in the late 1990s.

The Prefects' Court of 1987 with Principal Nihal Herath.
The Prefects’ Court of 1987 with Principal Nihal Herath.

In the 1990s, up to about the late 2000s, the practice was to have 20 Prefects, wearing gold plated badges. They were promoted from a group not exceeding 30, who were Monitors for a year. Kingswood’s Prefects were generally from after the A/L year — unlike the Prefects of some other schools whose “duty” ended a few months before their A/L exam — and were required to be in office for a year after studies. Until this changed in the late 2000s, the system worked quite well, except for 1994, where there are three Senior Prefects: Nagahapitiya, Ekanayake and Ranil De Silva. One version of the story is that Nagahapitiya stepped down and Ekanayake — who was then elected — had to back off in favour of a study opportunity that came his way. Ranil De Silva was one of the best loved and best feared of Senior Prefects of the last two decades.

Why was this system changed? One argument is that by requiring the Prefects to stay back another year or half a year at school, they were being asked to sacrifice a few months from their young lives, whereas they can be elsewhere doing a job or preparing for higher studies. With the changing times and changing expectations, maybe this argument sounds valid. But, isn’t this where the decay of Kingswood starts? The office of Prefect should not be a stud or a jewellery item you wear — but an office you take for the love of the school. It should not be something you take up to make your CV look pretty, but a commitment you make in the name of the school that nursed you. In that sense, the “additional year” is not a punishment or a burden, but a commitment of love and honour. Of course, the Prefect — before applying for the job — knows what the job is going to be; and for how long. Therefore, there is no reason for the administration to worry too much about Prefects “growing old” at school.

The stress, here, being Asiri Attanayake (2001), and of course the misspelling of Nathavitharana's initials --- DK, instead of WD.
The stress, here, being Asiri Attanayake (2001), and of course the misspelling of Nathavitharana’s initials — DK, instead of WD.

In a recent seminar at school, the Senior Prefect of 2003 WD Nathavitharana, shared with the senior boys the advantages of being “after ALs” when being a Prefect. According to him, being “after AL”s makes the Prefects biologically the oldest group of students in college and free of any other commitments but to serve the school full time. He also said that, as such, the Kingswood Prefects — wherever they went — were looked up to based on their seniority. The “training” they got in people management, event organization, crisis management and decision making, according to Nathavitharana, was worth the extra year spent in school. I feel that the change brought about in the late 2000s has made the Prefects’ Court both “soft” and vulnerable. This was one step that was taken to bring the Prefects to heel, and on the long run the strength and quality of the Prefects’ Court has come under comment.

In recent years, the Prefects seem to have some confusions regarding their “duty” and way of conduct. This is not the Prefects’ fault, entirely. The problem seems to be the “violation” of a “tradition” the Prefects’ Court had, in very short-sighted, dictatorial ways. In recent Big Matches we saw Prefects donning cowboy hats and dancing while on Big Match duty. We even saw some teachers (who, I am sure, are unaware of the traditions of the school and the Prefects’ Court) justifying this behaviour. Today, the cowboy hat seems to have come to stay and become a “tradition” of the Prefects’ Court. This is lamentable, to say the least and this policy has to be thought of again, considering the Past. At rugger matches we see Monitors holding a gigantic maroon and blue flag/banner of the school. They generally spread this on the railing of the main stand. But, we also see some Prefects who are in coloured clothing, while no Prefects are seen on duty at the game. These are drastic changes from the 1990s where Prefects were the leading force in maintaining order. They were never “spectators” in games or outings.

There were many Prefects during the time who were not the favourites of teachers. But, a good Prefect (in the way he conducted himself) always prompted the teachers and the administration to tidy up their game. In a time where the school was going through a very precarious passage — when the school had many internal issues and discipline was rocking like a boat in bad waters — the Prefects of 2001, in my view, gave the best as anyone could give for the school’s welfare. Back then, as a senior student, I remember feeling antagonistic towards these Prefects for the “harshness” of their policing, at times. But, I also realized that that kind of ruthlessness was needed to push Kingswood through the threat the school was facing at that time.

The 2001 Prefects were led by Asiri Attanayake, with Milinda Attanayake and Malalasekara as Scribes. The ruthlessness of the discipline they exacted off the students didn’t even spare boys of their own Grade. From top to bottom, from Siberia to the Primary, these Prefects combed the school of its lice and bugs — and were not always preferred by some of the teachers, too. But, their “duty” knew very little barriers and the foundation they laid that year, I am told, made the work of the Prefects of 2002 and 2003 a whole lot easier.

Today, the school needs boys who are ready to serve Kingswood, and not wear the name Kingswood as a jewel or a tie pin. We need boys who are ready to study the past, sustain the tradition and to give the best for a quality Kingswood that will live its 125 year old spirit and dignity. It is going to be hard — but, we need people who are ready to stop and re-think where we are, and where we are heading. The Prefects, I feel, have much to do in setting the standards for Kingswood to flourish and stand tall.

School Calls Well Meaning Old Boys

“Country or school may call,
Play the game forward all” The Kingswood Song.

A few months ago, we cautioned that Kingswood has arrived at the most crucial juncture of its history. With overnight transfers to nearly 50 teachers and with a new Principal coming in, Kingswood’s foundation was tested as never before. Among the problems we saw are the following:

1) The removal of 50 senior teachers interrupts the transmission of the Kingswood culture and traditions to the incoming teacher cadre.

2) Kingswood having a number of unique rituals and traditions would require a person some time to study and anlyze them. The removal of the entire top tier of the teacher population blocks a smooth transition of the traditions and culture.

3) The Old Boys (who know and value school traditions) not being closely involved with school.

Today, 10 months later, the consequences of the fears we had are still valid. Only that some of the school students and (older) teachers find that Kingswood is placed in a very tricky tight-rope; with no walking back. We hear stories of internal disunions and disgareements in the staffroom and among the top admin chairs. We hear of little “factions” operating in isolation, not being able to cooperate to the larger unity of the school welfare. We hear of teachers not knowing of the school traditions, coming up with their own ideas of what Kingswood “should be”, parading around.

When we, in January, analysed Kingswood — our alma mater of 123 years — to be placed in the most decisive spot it has been since the government takeover in 1958, we spoke to some of the responsible Old Boys who hold influential positions in the legit Old Boys Body. We tabled our fears and anxieties in person and thoroughly analyzed the situation for their benefit. We beseech them, the situation has not remedied yet. There are serious measures to be enforced, and as the loyal Union of Blaze’s open-minded school of yore, its Union needs to pay close heed to how matters develop from here.

True Greatness Does Not Make Noise

If someone asks me to nominate the most “exemplary sports personality” Kingswood has produced in the past decade and a half, Fazil Marija’s name would be almost an automatic choice. Today, most boys involved in sports at Kingswood, can learn much by simply watching Fazil Marija play; they can learn a whole lot more by watching Fazil marija walk on a pavement. Today, in the age of selfies – where everyone is a photographer and supermodel – we see many ordinary sports teams and sports team members being pumped with hot air with qualities they simply don’t have.

1020441Fazil Marija is arguably the most outstanding back division player of our generation. Had Marija been born to a different decade, or attended a Colombo school, his fate would have been very different. Had Sri Lankan rugby not been the soft toy of the Rajapakshes since 2009 – and had it not become the politicized waste bin it has today become – Fazil Marija’s true potential would have been properly used for the betterment of Lankan rugby. Now, at 29, only time and fitness can tell us how far this elegant Fly Half can go – but, my feeling is that the years in which he was “neglected” or “deselected” by the stooges who run the game was a waste that cannot be pardoned in any way.

If someone asks me to nominate the most “exemplary sports personality” Kingswood has produced in the past decade and a half, Fazil Marija’s name would be almost an automatic choice. In rugby alone, there are a few formidable names spread across the late 90s and the 2000s, but, my feeling is that Marija surpasses most of them in a rare combination of talent, sportsmanship and humbleness. Kingswood’s rugby history, between the late 90s and today, can boast of massive names such as Jeewa Galgamuwa, Amjad Buksh, Chamara Withanage, Nilfer Ibrahim, Achala Perera and Gayan and Roshan Weeraratne. Harshana Wijeweera – who for a number of years represented Police SC – was another formidable player in the late 90s. Nalaka Weerakkody, who excelled in the mid to late 1990s, is perhaps, the best kicker to represent Kingswood, Kandy SC and Sri Lanka in recent years.

But, in Fazil Marija, there was always a defining quality which ranked him a step above many of the others, from his schooling days on. This quality had to do with his gentle and quiet way of getting about his business and his ability to “unswitch” himself from being a “rugby star” the moment he left the stadium. Fazil never tried scintillating breaks or tactical punts outside the line. In fact, though earmarked as a tremendous prospect from his young years, Fazil was still one of the most soft and rarely spoken, silent blokes in the school, who didn’t walk any swagger, unlike many who sat on the bench very often did. The true sportsman is defined by how he holds himself both inside and outside the game. Fazil Marija had greatness carved out all the way along. Fazil’s most outstanding years with Kingswood came in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In fact, he was groomed right in the midst of a legendary revival of Kingswood rugby: a renaissance that saw Kingswood ride high between the years 2000 and 2006. Although Kingswood managed a League title in 2008 under Gayan Rathnage, by then, the Kingswoodian star – already drunk with blindness and vanity – was on the wane.

Fazil all horizontal
Fazil all horizontal

Today, most boys involved in sports at Kingswood, can learn much by simply watching Fazil Marija play; they can learn a whole lot more by watching Fazil marija walk on a pavement. Today, in the age of selfies – where everyone is a photographer and supermodel – we see many ordinary sports teams and sports team members being pumped with hot air with qualities they simply don’t have. How some boys thump their chests and make much out of nothing is laughable, given the fact that many of them can’t even come close to a champion (in talent and discipline) such as Fazil. There are fellows who share on Facebook the day-by-day schedule they follow in the fitness center. Others post photos doing push ups, half squats, monkey-bars or other muscle-enhancing drills, accompanied by captions of bravado which the rest of the world finds funny.

There are schools that put a gaudy flex in front of their gate, even when a sports team wins a District title. For example, St. Joseph’s Balika College Nugegoda has a ludicrous front gate, which looks like a advertising billboard of “minor stars” and “minor achievements”. Between Kingswood and St. Joseph’s Balika College, I agree, there is some distance (and not only in Kilometers); but, there are times when the banners Kingswood put moves one to tears, too. In fact, why put banners at all? Why put a banner in front of the school and parade your little achievements to the big wide world which is, anyway, not interested; or, is too busy to care? Are achievements by the school there to be paraded before society – and use it to “compete” with others – or, are these achievements there to be shared and appreciated by the school community? When did this “banner putting” culture come to Kingswood?

As to when Kingswoodians first started hanging flexes and printed fabric in their front fence is not known to me. But, I do not recall such a practice throughout the 1990s, when I was a junior student there under R.B Rambukwelle’s Principalship. One of my contemporaries at school, I remember, used to boast that it was they (some in my batch) who introduced “banners” to Kandy schools (and he sounded very proud of his landmark achievement, too). As to whether this is the fact I am not sure – since every batch feels they are unique in some way – but, in the 2000s Kingswood went malarial with all kinds of notices and banners along the front school fence. On days, Kingswood even looked like a funeral house of a minor VIP.

Coming back to Fazil Marija, throughout his career at Kingswood as well as for his club and country, his main concern has been the game. He is a superstar by merit of his abilities and temperament alone. He has not been distracted by the sequins and gold dust of stardom, nor by media flashes and fanfare. In fact, fellows such as Fazil have injected inspiration into hundreds of budding ruggerites – both at Kingswood and at a national level – and become role models of whom coaches and team managers speak about. I am not very sure as to whether Fazil has ever been sent to the bin, or been drawn a red card on, but I am sure such instances – if at all – are very few. The most familiar sight is where he would run over a try and calmly walk back to his mark, with restrained feeling, in order for the game to resume.

දක්ෂතාවයේ විභවය අලෙවිකරණයෙන් රැකගැනීමේ අවශ්‍යතාවය

තරගය පැවැත්වෙන අතරතුර අපගේ බලාපොරොතුතුව වූයේ ද කිංස්වුඩ් ජයග්‍ර‍හනයකි. නමුත් තරගයෙන් අනතුරුව ප්‍රකෘති දිවියට පැමිණිය යුතු නිසා මෙම සටහන “කිංස්වුඩ් මැටර්ස්” වෙත ඉදිරිපත් කොට ඇත.

 

කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ කීර්ති නාමයත් ඔහුගේ හැකියාවත් සිරස රූපවාහිනියේ සුපර් ෆයිටර් නරඹන සැම ඇතුලු අනෙක් ලංකාවාසී සැම අතර බැබලවීමට හැකිවීම ගැන ලසිත් දසනායක බොක්සිං ක්‍රීඩක සොයුරා ගැන සතුටක් ඇතිවේ. එහි කිලෝග්‍රෑම් 52 බර පන්තියේ අනුශූරයා (හොදම පරාජිතයා) ලෙස ඔහු ස්ටුඩියෝ එකක් තුල, කෙටි පණිවිඩ ද, නදිනි ප්‍රේමදාස නැමැති සීසන් එකකට පමණක් හිට් වූ සුපර් ස්ටාර් ද ඇතුලු “මීඩියා වීර” විශේෂඥ මත අතරින් ද ගොස් මෙම අනුශූරතාවය දිනා ගැනීම ද වැදගත් වේ. එය වැදගත් වන්නේ වෙන හේතුවක් නිසා නොව, ලසිත් අනුශූරයා වූයේ ද, අනෙක් අය එස්.එම්.එස් ඡන්ද දැම්මේ ද බොක්සිං තරගයක මුවාවෙන් පැවැත්වූ මාධ්‍ය සංදර්ශනයකට වීම නිසාය. අපේ එදිනෙදා ජීවිතය මෙවැනි සංදර්ශන මාලාවක අන්තර් වියමනක් ද වන නිසා මෙහිදී ලසිත් ට වැරැද්දක් පැටවීමක් වන්නේ නැත. අනෙක් අතට, තම දක්ෂතාවය උරගා බැලීමට ලැබුනු අවස්ථාවක් උපරිමයට යොදා ගැනීම තුලින් ලසිත් ජයග්‍රහනයක්ම ලැබුවා යැයි තර්ක කිරීමට ද හැක.

සිරස බොක්සිං තරග‍යේ අනුශූරයා වූ ලසිත් කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ දී පිලිගැනුනේ තූර්ය වාදක කණ්ඩායමේ නාදය ද අතරිනි. ඉහල පාලන තන්ත්‍රය ඉතා නිහතමානීව ප්‍රධාන ගේට්ටුව අසලටම පැමිණ ඔහුව පිලිගත්හ. විශේෂ උත්සවයක් ද පැවැත්වුනු අතර, කිංස්වුඩ් බොක්සිං ෆේස්බුක් පේජ් එක එහිදී ලසිත් ව හැදින්වූයේ උත්සවයේ “ප්‍රධාන අමුත්තා” වශයෙනි. මෙම “ප්‍රධාන අමුත්තා” ගමන් කරන මාර්ගය දෙපස අත්පොලොසන් දෙමින් කණිෂ්ඨ ශිෂ්‍යයෝ රදවා තිබුණි. මේ හා සමාන පිලිගැනීමක් ජයමාල් විතානගේ යටතේ තරග කළ කිංස්වුඩ් රගර් කණ්ඩායමට 2001 වසරේදී ලැබුණි. එම කණ්ඩායම පෑ වික්‍රමය නම් “බී” කොටසින් තරග කර ජනාධිපති කුසලානය කිංස්වුඩ් ඉතිහාසයේ මුල් වරට දිනා ගැනීමයි. තූර්යවැයුමක් නොතිබුණු නමුත් ප්‍රධාන ශාලාවේදී උත්සවශ්‍රීයෙන් පිලිගැනීමක් සිදුවිනි.

1991 වසරේදී ද මේ හා සමාන පිලිගැනීමක් සිදුවුනි. ඒ දකුණු ආසියාතික ක්‍රීඩා උළෙලේ බර ඉසිලීමට ලෝකඩ පදක්කමක් දිනූ (කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලට කේවල තරග ඉසව්වකදී ඉහලම ගෞරවය ගෙනදුන් බවට තර්ක කල හැකි) අසේල විජේවික්‍රම ක්‍රීඩකයා පිලිගැනීම පිණිසයි. අසේලගේ ජයග්‍රහනය කලාපයේ රටවල් හතක ක්‍රීඩකයින් සමග වන අතර, 2001 දී රගර් කණ්ඩායම එම වසරේ හොදම පාසල් රගර් කණ්ඩායම් අට සමග “බී” කාණ්ඩයෙන් පැමිණ තරග කලේය. අද, 2014 දී ලසිත් සොයුරා සිරස රූපවාහිනී බොක්සිං තරගයේ අනුශූරයා වී යථෝක්ත අවස්ථා හා සමාන ම පිලිගැනීමකින් පිදුම් ලබයි. මෙහිදී ඉහත අවස්ථා තුන හරහා පැහැදිලි වෙන කරුණු දෙකක් තිබේ. එකක් නම්, එක්කෝ මෙම වසර විසිතුනක කාලරාමුව හරහා කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහල සාපේක්ෂව වඩා “ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී” පාසලක් වී ඇති බවයි. අන්තර්ජාතික ශූරයාගේ මල්මාලය ම ජනප්‍රියවාදී ටෙලිවිෂන් තරගයේ අනුශූරයාටද වෙන්කර ඇති බවයි (මෙය ලසිත්ගේ ජයග්‍රහණය ගැන විමසුමක් නොවන බව නැවත උච්චාරනය කලයුතුයි). එය එසේ නොවේ නම්, මෙම අවස්ථා තුනෙන් ගම්‍ය කරගත හැකි තවත් කරුනක් ලෙසට තර්ක කල හැක්කේ කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ “විශිෂ්ටත්වය” මැනීමේ කෝදුවේ මෘදුකාංග ගෙවීගොස් ඇති බවකි. නැත්නම්, මාධ්‍ය විසින් මවනු ලබන විජ්ජා ජ‍ාලයේ ෆැන්ටසිකරණය තුල විද්‍යාලය ද අතරමං වී ඇත් ද?

Lasith's friends and fans congratulating him after his achievement.
Lasith’s friends and fans congratulating him after his achievement.

අපට අසන්නට ඇති අදාලම ප්‍රශ්ණය වන්නේ මෙතැන් සිට ඕනෑම බාහිර හෝ අධ්‍යාපනික ක්‍රියාකාරකමකින් ජාතික මට්ටමේ අනුශූරතාවක් හෝ ඉන් ඉහල ස්ථානයක් ලබාගත් අයෙකුට මෙවැනිම පිලිගැනීමක් — බෙර ගසා, මල්මාල දමා, උත්සවයක් තබා — කරනවාද යන්නයි. නැතිනම්, මෙම පිලිගැනීම මේ ආකාරයෙන් සිදුවූයේ ලසිත් තරග කලේ රූපවාහිනී මාධ්‍යයක් මෙහෙය වූ සන්දර්ශනාත්මක බොක්සිං වළල්ලක වීම නිසාද? මෙම ප්‍රශ්ණයට පිලිතුර “ඔව්” යන්න නම් අපි අපගේ ප්‍රමුඛතාවයන් හා වටිනාකම් ගැන අප විසින්ම කරගත යුතු ප්‍රශ්ණාවලියක ආරම්භය ද එයම වේ. එය පෞද්ගලික වූ ද, ආචාර ධර්මීය වූද ප්‍රශ්ණ කිරීමකි. එය ලසිත්ගේ මට්ටමින් කෙරෙන්නේ නම් “නාමික” බොක්සිං තරගයකට තම ශක්තිය හා ආත්මය වමාරමින්, මාධ්‍ය විසින් තමාට එන්නත් කරනු ලැබූ ලංසුවකට අලෙවි වෙමින් තමා ලබන “ජනප්‍රියතාවය” කොතරම් තම හෘදසාක්ෂිය හා අනුරූප වෙනවාද යන්න විවාදයට බදුන් කල යුතුය. මෙම තරගයට ඇතුලුවීමෙන් ම ලසිත් මෙම ප්‍රශ්ණය නිරාකරනය කර දී තිබේ. එසේ නැතිනම් එවැනි ප්‍රශ්ණ කිරීමක් අවශ්‍ය නැතැයි ද, වෘත්තීය ක්‍රීඩකයින් පවා අලෙවිකරණය වන බැවින් මේ නැගී එන ක්‍රීඩකයා පරිභෝජන ජාලයකට මෙසේ ඇතුලත් කිරීමේ වරදක් නැතැයි ද සිතන්නෝ සිටිය හැක.

වඩා වැදගත් ආත්මකථනය කරගත යුත්තේ විද්‍යාලයයි. ඒ, අප අගයන සහ ඇගයුම් ලෙස අපේම සොයුරන් හා බෙදා හදා ගෙන ආත්මගත කරගතයුතු වටිනාකම් හා හර පද්ධතීන් සම්බන්දවයි. අපේ එදිනෙදා වැඩකටයුතු ඉහත කී පරිභෝජනවාදී ජාලයක නැවත නැවත වෙලෙමින් පවතින තත්වයකදී එම තත්වයන් හදුනාගැනීමටත්, ඒ හා ඵලදායී ගනුදෙනුවක නියැලීමට ශිෂ්‍යයා යොමුකරවීමත් විද්‍යාලයක වගකීමයි. අපගේ උනන්දුව වියයුත්තේ පරිභෝජනවාදයෙන් බඩජාරී වුනු මාධ්‍ය භාවිතයකින් සුරුවම් කෙරෙන “සුපිරි තරු” බිහිකර ගැනීමකට වඩා විචාරශීලී හා තීක්ෂන ලෙස මොලය‍ට තට්ටු කර වැ‍ඩක් කල හැකි “පොලව දෙසට නැමුනු” සිසු කැලක් වඩා ගැනීමය. එය ලසිත් වැනි විභවයක් ඇති ක්‍රීඩකයින්ට ද වඩා “ක්‍රීඩාශීලී” පෞරුෂයක් ඇතිකර ගැනීමට ඌනපූර්නයක් සපයනු ඇත. “සුපර් ස්ටාර්” මානසිකත්වයකින් බාල්දු කෙරුනු රටක අවිචාරශීලීව ඒ දෙසටම අපද යනවා නම් ඒ ගැන වඩා වැදගත් ස්වයං-විවේචනයක් අවශ්‍ය වේ. විද්‍යලයේ ඉතිහාසය හා බැදී පවතින අල්පේච්ඡ බව හා නිහතමානී ගුණාංග එවැනි විවේචනයක “අදාලතාවය” ගැන අපට බල කරයි.

අසේල විජේවික්‍රම උපහාරයට පසු අවුරුද්දේ, 1993 දී, අයි.එන් හේවාවසම් “මීහරකා” නම් සිනමා නිර්මාණයක් මුදා හරියි. ලින්ටන් සේමගේ හා ස්වර්ණා මල්ලවආරච්චි රංග නිරූපණය කරන එය මානසික වශයෙන් නොවැඩුනු, පිටිසර ගැමි කොල්ලෙක් වටා ගෙතුනකි. කිසිදු අධ්‍යාපනයක් නොලත් ඔහු මීහරක් බලාගෙන ජීවිකාව ගෙන යයි. නගරයේ සිට එන බස් රියදුරෙකු හා ගෝලයෙකු මොහුගෙ “නොදන්නාභාවය” හරහා අඩුවෙන් මුදල් ගෙවා මී කිරි මිලදී ගනී. කොල්ලා සතුටු කිරීම‍ට සිගරට්, වැල පත්තර ආදිය ද සපයයි. මෙම “සූරාකෑම” දිගටම සිදුවෙන අතර තමාට සිදුවන ආර්ථික හෝ ආධ්‍යාත්මික අහේනිය දැකීමට තරම් විඥානයක් මීහරක් බලන කොල්ලාට නැත. චිත්‍රපටය අවසානයේ දී කොල්ලා සියදිවි නසාගැනෙන අවස්ථාවක් වේ. චිත්‍රපටය අවසන් වන්නේ බස් රථය නැවත ගමට එන දර්ශනයකිනි. මීකිරි විකිණීමට වෙනත් කොල්ලෙක් බස් රියදුරා හා ගෝලයා සොයාගත් බවක් ප්‍රකාශ වේ. වැල පත්තරය දැන් ඔහුගේ සන්තෝසම බවට පත්වේ. “සුපර් ස්ටාර්” සංස්කෘතියේ කෙටි ඉතිහාසය විමසා බැලීමේදී බස් ගෝලයින් දෙදෙනා හා සිරස “ස්ටාර් මේනියාවේ” වෙනසක් නැත්තේය. සිගරට් එක, පත්තරය වෙනුවට මුදල්, ත්‍යාග හා “නොමිලේ ගුවන්ගත වීමේ අවස්ථාවක්” මෙන්ම ප්‍රචාරනයක් ද ලබා දෙනු ලැබේ. ඔබේ “ජනප්‍රියතාවයේ මිනිත්තු පහලොව” ඒ හරහා ලැබෙනු ඇත. අපගේ අධ්‍යාපනයේ හරය විය යුත්තේ මෙම අරාජිකත්වය විනිවිද යාම‍ට නිර්මාණාත්මක ක්‍රමවේදයන් ගවේෂණය කිරීමයි. පත්තරයට, සිගරට් එකට අපගේ හැකියාව හෝ මී කිරි හට්ටිය හෝ විකුණා දැමීම නොවේ.

Kingswood Week: A Prototype for a Meditation of “Meaningful Change” and “Change by Accident”

Kingswood-College-Kandy-CrestChange, says the philosopher, is inevitable. Change, therefore, must happen as much as it should be accepted. If the traditions and spirit of a community or a group of people gets forgotten after the lapse of years, one must accept that: that is a result of change. Other times, change is also forced into a system. This can be seen when new properties are introduced to a process that is being carried out in a certain way for a number of years. When one is to artificially introduce a change there is a merit in consulting the established practice; or, in other words, in checking the “agreement” of the intended change with the “tradition”. There are also two forms of “change”: meaningful change, where one is consciously aware of the change one is making, the reasons of making that change and as to why that change is necessary; and change by accident, largely caused by ignorance and ignominy. The first type of “change”, we believe, is more productive.

When the Kingswood Week was initiated over a century ago, there was no “Kingswood Sunday”. Blaze notes that the “Sunday” was attached to the Week’s programme several years later; when, the Administration found out that some of the Boys had the practice of holding a service at the Methodist Church on the Sunday of the Kingswood Week. In the initial years, the Sunday had been at the end of the Week, with an all-ethnic mass and service at the Methodist Church. Records and accounts of these are found under a separate chapter in L.E Blaze’s KFE: The Story of Kingswood.

With time, the Kingswood Week agenda changes. The Kingswood Sunday comes to the beginning of the week — maybe, with the feeling that religious observances (as per, Ceylonese / Lankan custom) come at the beginning of a festive occasion. Then, in Post-Independence times, the Sunday’s programme incorporates religious programmes at the Maligawa, the Meera Makkam Mosque and the Methodist Church, thus symbolizing the religious plurality of the school, within the meaning of being an independent nation. This, too, is a meaningful change. The Kingswood Week, from the earliest days, was the week in which Kingswood held its sports, prize giving, and day of fellowship. This week begins with the welcoming of “the guest” of the Week; a distinguished person who, mostly, has a close historical connection with the school.

In recent years, the sports meet was removed from the Kingswood Week. This is as per the renewed regulations of the Ministry of Education, where all schools are expected to hold their sports in a particular term of the year. Kingswood had abided by this rule without protest and that “change”, too, can be logically rationalized (and let us hope the Ministry doesn’t bring about further rules regarding prize givings and recitation of Prologues etc). A Colours Eve was introduced in the late 1980s: once again, a logical move, as Kingswood’s sports had gained yards in the 1970s and 1980s.

As we have shown through this blog space on at least two occasions in the past, a “change” we fail to fathom is the inclusion of a “Kala Ulela” and a “Scouts Day” to the Kingswood Week. This was an initiative taken 3-4 years back, during the tail-end of Principal Chandrasekara’s tenure. What reasons and what logic prompted these inclusions remain mysterious. We have used this blog space to discuss this “abnormality” in detail. We will not repeat ourselves here. It is sufficient to say that these inclusions cannot be rationalized and does not agree with the Week’s agenda.

During the Prize giving last week, July 2014, we saw a red colour cloth flex stretched across the cyclorama of the stage. It announced: “Annual Prize Giving, 2014″. In my 26 year association with the school, I do not remember of such a banner being drawn across the prize stage to indicate what event we were partaking in. Logically speaking, if those present there did not know it was indeed the prize giving, they wouldn’t be there in the first place. A sign always has to serve a purpose. A sign has to be a communication; not a decoration.

According to one of our co-blog team members, the first Senior Prefect of (at least) our generation to have rounded up the prize giving’s vote of thanks with a “KFE!” is Isuru Sirinimal (Senior Prefect 2000). I have personal disagreements with that, but my colleague’s memory is more reliable than mine for its depository of facts; but, over the past decade and a half, it has been quite customary for the vote of thanks to be rounded up with that customary salute. But, we see in recent years that every Kingswood boy who has a microphone under his nose make it his style to parrot “KFE!” after whatever it is he is doing there.

Thus, we hear “KFE” being used instead of a full stop at the end of a Prefects’ Day forum, a Colours Eve etc, as much as we hear it at the end of individual speeches, too. More relevant to our topic here, the Prologue Reciter, too, has cultivated the style of saying “KFE!” at the end of the traditional recital. This has been seen over a few years now (with exceptions), including this year’s Prologue Reciter. The Prologue Reciter’s function is to deliver the Prologue as it is given to him; as composed. He is the vehicle through which the sentiments scribed in the Prologue are channeled — and that’s it; nothing more, nothing less.

All in all, it looks ludicrous and unaesthetic when each person who comes under the mic — as if on cue — blabs a “KFE!”. On the Prize giving day held a week ago, altogether 6 people used the mic, on 7 occasions (including the compere; and twice by the Senior Prefect). Of these 7 occasions, in 4 instances the item concluded with a “KFE / Kingswood For Ever!”. The Prologue reciter used it upfront and it was used by Dr. Mahinda Katugaha who proposed the vote of thanks (on behalf of the Old Boys). The Senior Prefect used it twice in the interval of 5 minutes — at the end of his vote of thanks and when he proposed “three hearty cheers” to the floor. We wouldn’t have been too surprised that evening had the chief guest, Minister SB Dissanayake, concluded with “KFE” too: it was surely catching up.

The tradition has been that, at the conclusion of the prize ceremony, the Senior Prefect proposes “three hearty cheers” to (1) the Chief Guest, (2) the Principal and Staff, and the (3) Old Boys and Well Wishers. At least in the last two years this traditional cheer has been warped with the third cheer being changed to “three hearty cheers for the Prefects’ Court and the Gentlemen of Kingswood”. Once again, the illogical nature of this statement fouls its application. Here we have the Senior Prefect (representing the Prefects, who, in turn, represent the Boys) proposing a cheer for the prefects and the boys. In the age of Facebook and selfies this makes some sense, but, in Kingswood’s so-called tradition of being “none for himself but all for the school”, this newly fangled line supersedes the Old Boys and well wishers of the school. And, then, why propose a separate “cheer” for the Prefects’ Court? Why get the school community to cheer the Prefects? The Prefects volunteer to take up some responsibilities for the school. It is a volunteered post. No one is obliged to cheer them for that.

The prize list at the prize giving, too, should be carefully re-assessed. Some of the traditional prizes which have been consistently awarded through the 1990s and 2000s have suddenly disappeared. Maybe, these disappearances have happened over the years, but, still, a careful revision of these prizes can restore some pride and dignity — and sustain a tradition — in what we do. Prizes come and go, depending on the donors. But, some of the traditional prizes need to have a consistency. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s, three shields were awarded at the end of the prize distribution: the Luterz, Crowther and Randles shields. While the Luterz shield was given (for inter-House learning), the other two had simply been erased. The Randles Shield, in particular, was a magnificent shield with a  majestic appearance. We only hope that it is still somewhere around.

Nowadays, another dangerous tendency among those related to school is to take this blog too seriously. This blog is seen by some of the staff and students as an “enemy” of the school. Our views are not read properly, thought about or measured for validity; but, are simply taken as arrows of enmity, because our style is not to mollycoddle. In society, the plurality of views is of the greatest value for development — and we write from that stance. One of our (guest) correspondents was even threatened with assault following a post he channeled to us, following the Big Match this year. Some narrow-minded teachers (possibly unread in the school or its past) rebuke us sometimes. Our views, at the end of the day, are simply summarized: Kingswood is/was our school; and therefore, of Kingswood we will discourse. If our views are even of an iota of meaning , feel free to take us a bit seriously. If not, carry on with the good life. After all, history is an interpretation; and it is a story written by the one who stands last.