by Bernard VanCuylenburg.
During the colonial period of the lat 1930’s, a tea plantation in the Madulkelle district Relugas Estate, was the place where what appeared to be a simple act of insubordination by an assistant superintendent, was to have far reaching consequences and wider ramifications not only for the company concerned, but for the colonial government of the time and a left leaning socialist political party called the “Lanka Sama Samaja Party”, (The Lanka Socialist Party) popularly known as the LSSP. The “David” in this case was a young assistant superintendent named Mark Bracegirdle and the “Goliath” was the government of the day – at first glance an uneven match.
The Superintendent of this particular estate Mr.H.D.Thomas was badly in need of an assistant, and he petitioned the company accordingly. As was the modus operandum of the day, a young Englishman Mark Bracegirdle was recruited from overseas and after he arrived in Ceylon and spent two days at the Agency House, where the director of tea inducted him into what a planter’s duties entailed. He was then sent to another estate for a stint of ‘creeping’. When he had completed his creeping to the satisfaction of the superintendent of that estate and the company, he finally arrived to take up duties at Relugas estate in Madulkelle to the relief of the superintendent.
Remember his name well. It is a name that figured prominently not only in the tea industry of that period, but also in political, business and government circles. Mark Bracegirdle did not come from England, though he was English in origin. He came from Australia ! His mother and he emigrated to Australia from England in 1925 and when he grew up he trained as a farmer. He also joined the Australian Young Communist League — As history will show, his political leanings were to have a dramatic impact on his life in Ceylon. Settling in well, Bracegirdle went to work with vim, vigour and a hearty dose of enthusiasm. He got his hands dirty often as he did not believe in giving instructions and supervising. He would prune,weed, move stones in new clearings, lop trees, and sometimes pluck to the amusement of the women pluckers, and physically was
hyper active ! He was particularly sympathetic to complaints by the labourers, especially if such complaints were about their line rooms whenever repairs were needed. He was always accessible, and before long became the idol or pin up boy of the entire labour force ! He even visited the line rooms of the labour and shared their meals with them.
Mr.Thomas was aghast ! This was something unheard of in the days when the English Planters ruled their estates like some petty fiefdom and “never the twain would meet”, with apologies to Mark Twain. Meanwhile, he kept an eagle eye on Bracegirdle’s progress and concluded that although he was an exemplary worker and a cut above the rest as far as Assistant Superintendents were concerned, his attitude and behaviour to the established norms of the social structure were out of character. He had no idea of the mini revolution looming on the horizon which would rock this estate to its very roots !! …Read More →
The etymology of the word ‘arrack’ has always left room for some doubt ‒ partly because it has been around for a very long time. What’s more, the word is also used in different parts of South and Southeast Asia, to describe local beverages made from the fermented sap from various sources ‒ fruit, sugarcane, grain etc. ‒ depending on the country in question. In Sri Lanka, ‘arrack’ is the much-loved local drink, distilled from the sap of the coconut flower.
The Toddy Tappers of Sri Lanka – believed by some to be the inventors of Ceylon arrack, Sri Lanka’s much-loved local beverage.
Indian philologers believed the name derived from the areca nut, a palm seed originating from India that was used in the production of multiple varieties of arrack. The Arabs, too, meanwhile, claim credit for the invention of arrack, stating that the word arrack was derived from the Arabic word araq, which translates to ‘perspiration’ in English. Others believe that Sri Lankans were the creators of arrack, which was discovered when tapping for toddy; thus, the word arrack was believed to have derived from the Sinhalese word arrakku. The difference between arrack and toddy lies in the production process, as toddy is converted to arrack when it undergoes distillation. Whatever the origins of this beverage may be, Sri Lanka has a rich history of tapping for toddy and today Sri Lanka is the main palm sap-based arrack exporter in the world. …
Built on a foundation of effective communication, the ULTC Personal Leadership & Life Skills Program for Youth is a unique program designed for youth aged 10-18 years, to create self- awareness as a key to personal development and personal leadership so that they can live their lives to their fullest potential.
Purpose of ULTC is to develop self-confidence in youth and build up their self- esteem so that they are able to create their own unique path to success – success as defined by them, not a definition borrowed from others.
Our aim is to create well-balanced, all-rounded individuals who are independent and self-reliant, but comfortably interdependent.
The unique feature of ULTC program is the learning of skills through facilitator led interactive peer learning sessions in a fulfilled environment. Our focus is on incremental development through continual hands on practice. The way the program is structured, it allows plenty of opportunity for the members to practise the skills taught in each session.
In addition to public speaking, presentation and debating skills, they will learn essential life skills such as interpersonal communication, creative problem solving, organisation, time management and teamwork skills, and workplace etiquette. The personal leadership skills taught are skills that can be applied in all educational, career and social settings throughout a member’s life.
We strongly believe in empowering our youth at an early age to face and deal with the ever-increasing demand and challenges of the current world and define and achieve their own path of success in their life.
The program is delivered on a fortnightly basis on Sundays at Baulkham hills Community Centre, Windsor Road Baulkham Hills. There are eight sessions per semester and two semesters per year. Please refer to the attached program detail.
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