The Royal Brotherhood – Unity in Diversity – Lesson for a fractured Nation –
By Faiz-ur.Rahman (Solankili)
The Royal College Class of 1958 comprised of One hundred and forty 10 & 11 year olds from all over the Island, from all strata of society and all religions, spoke Sinhala or Tamil at home and also had a smattering of English.
Some came to school by bus, others by car, a few by bicycle and a few walked to school, whilst another group lived in the school hostel.
Very quickly we grew up to be the Royal Brotherhood – and defined ourselves unashamedly as Royalists, very much like those a hundred years and more before us, and how, many generations after us, will define themselves very proudly.
About forty of us met recently, on the 8th of March 2018, for an evening of reminiscence, nostalgia and camaraderie – sixty years after that first meeting in January 1958.
We have been meeting twice a year for about forty years – during the Royal-Thomian Big Match and during the Christmas holidays when those overseas, returned “home” to see their families.
Some of our Royalist brothers have in the years moved to U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, New Zealand and many other exotic countries.
Those who could make it this year were Ranil from Scotland, Knightly & Amjad from England and Ranjith & Upali from Sydney.
In past years we had Tin Maung Lwin from Myanmar, Afaq Rizvi from Pakistan/USA and Mayura Boteju from USA/Pakistan, David Ferdinands from Toronto, Prasanna Weerasinghe from California, Rudran Shanmuganathan & Miles Mylvaganam from Sydney, Upali Gunasekera from Perth, Ravi Gooneratne from Christchurch and many others visiting us.
When we – the island bound – travel overseas, we are often hosted by our “Royalist brothers” in those cities.
We have seen the assassination of two national leaders (SWRD & RP), numerous other leaders (Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Amirthalingam, Tiruchelvam, et al) and thousands of our best and talented youth – sacrificed on the altar of ethno-religious disharmony.
We believe, our school boy rivals – St. Thomas, Trinity, St. Peters, St. Josephs, St. Benedicts, Ananda, Nalanda, Thurstan, Issipatana, Carey, Wesley, Zahira and the 125 year old Hameed al Hussainiya – schools in Colombo and in the suburbs, too have rich traditions that should be cherished, borne friendships lasting lifetimes – crossing ethno-religious boundaries.
We learnt of books and men (and life) from our teachers – lovingly known as Dudley, Kataya, Bella, Ruperty, Pol Tokka, Wariyapola, Bruin, Alavi, Sariffodeen, Thamba, Ratnathicam, Conner, Mudguard, Lena, Canto, Arasa, Pope, Kotta Silva, EFC, Rev. Kahaduwe Ratnajothi and many others, who represented the rich tapestry of Sri Lanka’s ethno-religious backgrounds.
They taught us that it was the strength of character that defined a man.
Our Nation is beset by new challenges – the radicalisation of one community by bad leaders could easily lead to the radicalisation of other communities.
Today’s youth, the future leaders of Sri Lanka, forged by the fires of great institutions such as Royal,
should join hands across ethno-religious divides and wipe out the menace of disharmony that raises its head from time to time, in robes & thobes, to promote arson, looting, murder and mayhem.
Those age old values that kept this country together, will keep us together in the future too – in spite of the aberrations that surface from time to time, to plunge our diverse community into a rabid dog type failed state that leads to fractious violent conflict!
Royalist Mangala Samaraweera’s passionate plea to withdraw the civic rights of Politicians who promote ethno-religious disharmony deserves the support of all right thinking citizens.
Our abiding friendship, heedless of the ethno-religious origins of our brother Royalists should be the gold standard to be followed by our fellow Sri Lankans,
whose love for Sri Lanka should cross all man-made boundaries of religion, language and ethnicity.
Amongst the Class of ’58, Muslims have married Sinhalese, Sinhalese have married Tamils, Buddhists have married Christians, Christians have married Muslims, and all of these unions flourishing into the third and fourth decades, because we believe in humanity and regardless of religion and language, ethnicity and pedigree,
we are all one – deserving mutual respect, and celebrating extraordinary friendships that have been cherished for centuries.
Class of ’58
With contributions from:
Faiz-ur Rahman / Tin Maung Lwin / Nimal Dias Jayasinha / Bryan Baptist / Tilak De Zoysa / Amjad Haseeb / Mayura Boteju / Branu Rahim / Dick Siebel / Wijitha Perera / Ruzly Hussain / Stanley Obeyesekere / Zubair Sulaiman / Lincoln Ratnasingham / Sarath Sirisena / Tony Latiff / Anil Weeratunga / Vijaya Lekamge / Jimmy Hewawasam / Ravi Gooneratne / Srijith Liyanage / Sunil Gunasekera / Mohan Wijekoon