Over the past few years, a new tendency has come up at Kingswood: that is to call various teams and objects belonging to the school as being of the “Kings”. We would see social media posts urging us to come for rugger matches to “support the Kings”, we see all kinds of t-shirts printed by all kinds of t-shirt crazy groups at school having “KINGS” spread across in gigantic fonts; as well as the term being fed into patriotic slogans such as: “Kings, the Kings of Sri Lankan Rugby”.
Now, this tendency to call various aspects of Kingswood as “being of the Kings” is of recent origin. We are not very sure when this practice took root, but it is felt that this cannot be more than 4-5 years. Perhaps, this is a usage that came into the Kingswoodian vocabulary since His Excellency the President started calling everything as belonging to the king, but the traditionally used term whenever one referred to Kingswood, or a property thereof is the adjective “Kingswoodian”.
Traditionally, we would have a “Kingswoodian culture”, a “Kingswoodian rugger team”, a “Kingswoodian flag” etc. This usage complements with a boy of Dharmaraja referring to himself as a “Rajan”, a boy of Royal using the term “Royalist”, a boy of Richmond calling himself a “Richmondite” etc. Of course, these are formalities and one can argue that to say “come and back up the Kings” (as opposed to, “come cheer the Kingswoodians”) is both creatively novel and easy on the tongue.
But, let’s do this the hard way —- Creativity is okay, as long as you know that you’re being creative. In other words, a “wrong usage” or an abbaration doesn’t always qualify as creativity. Our feeling is that the usage of the word “Kings” is done because the word — in a superficial way — connotes the idea of regality. So, the cheeky reference we earlier made to His Excellency, the Head of State is not an idle one, because that gentleman, too, opted a “kingly mode” because the idea of royalty sounds nice to loud mouth. So, whenever the word “Kings” is uttered, we try to feel the thrill of something royal-like, kingly and majestic connected with it.
However, “Kingswood” is one name and it is a name that doesn’t grammatically permit a knife to be sent through the center. Notice — it is neither “King’s Wood” or “Kings’ Wood”. In other words, there is no “King” or “Kings” — in the royal, regal sense — in the name “Kingswood”. Beatrice, for example, is not “Beat + Rice”, and therefore, cannot be delved into two stand-alone words. In 1898, when the then Boys’ High School (the name styled after the Boys’ High School in Lahore, where L.E Blaze was briefly employed in 1890; and NOT after the name Girls’ High School, Kandy as many idiots suppose it to be) was expanding, a change of school name was welcome. The name Kingswood was proposed and this name was chosen deliberately, given the strong Wesleyan Methodist background and roots that our founding fathers shared. Kingswood in Bath was a famous Wesleyan school initiated by John Wesley, to whose architecture and culture Kingswood, Kandy was to be heavily indebted when the school — much later — moved to the current premises in 1923.
So, when we style ourselves as “Kings”, we have to also look back into the origins of the name “Kingswood” and as to how appropriate it is to go around chanting “Kings! Kings!”. The vision of L.E Blaze very clearly shows us that Kingswood was from the origins not a place that gave priority to Kings, but a stage where a various blend of ethnicities, cultures, religions and social walks met and mixed. The down to earth humbleness of LE Blaze is seen in his writings, whenever he refers to his school and its humble achievements. Blaze was never the scholar to wave a banner in search of “Kings”.
The feeling is that when we style ourselves we must consider our roots and our heritage. Erecting a statue of the late Blaze and singing his praise with loud voices is not what is important. One has to read the visionary scholar’s personality, his values and his vision and try to see how we can make those meaningful to our lives, today. More importantly, when we style ourselves, we must double check whether what we call ourselves has a meaning; and as to whether that meaning has a grammar and a logic behind it.
“Kingswoodians” we have always been. To Kingswood have we always belonged!