Sri Lanka Press Institute auditorium was packed with the well wishers gathered there for the launching of ‘Elmo Fernando, Colamba Sita’, the biography of late Elmo Fernando, the eminent radio journalist. The author of the book is Wijith Kumar Senaratne.
Wijith, who had been a fan of Elmo’s voice for a long time, persuaded Elmo for an interview with the greatest difficulty. It was published in the ‘Rawaya’ newspaper under the heading, ‘Elmo Fernando Colamba Sita’. The heading was inspired by his signature sign off statement during his years at BBC and was later used as the title for his biography.
When Elmo’s son brought forward the idea for a biography, Elmo wanted Wijith to be the author of his life story. Working on this project together with Wijith gave Elmo the courage to fight the long battle against his illness. While his thirst to unveil the truths experienced as a journalist grew day by day, so did his malady. Even after the passing of Elmo last year, Wijith continued with his work with the help of many people including Elmo’s children and the members of the Elmo Fernando commemorative committee. All their efforts were brought to fruition with the launching on
The book is dedicated to the journalists who have fought with their life’s blood in the name of ethical journalism
The book is dedicated to the journalists who have fought with their life’s blood in the name of ethical journalism. The author takes the reader along a tour of Elmo’s life, starting from his childhood, through the crucial points of his life as a person as well as a journalist. His journey as a struggling announcer, his work at Veritas Radio in the Philippines, and later on at BBC, up to his retirement. During his years as a journalist, Elmo had been to many places and seen many things that an average person rarely experiences. Many of those memories such as the bombing of the Central Bank, his visits to the coastal areas immediately after the Tsunami, the challenges during the 1980’s insurrections, are included in his biography.
While turning the pages, the reader comes across many instances where he is tested by life in giving him one obstacle after another. The way he overcomes each of these challenges, always taking the teachings of his religion to heart, and thinking philosophically, is a lesson to all. Even though Elmo is no more, the fragrance of his personality, that of a straightforward, compassionate man who has travelled a long distance in the road of life, could be felt throughout the book.
The Chief Guest of the event, Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilake commented that Elmo was a journalist that worked tirelessly to maintain the quality standards of the Sri Lankan Radio until his last breath.
The author of the biography mentioned in his speech that Elmo’s voice represented ‘the truth’, and that he always managed to report news from an angle that is different from the norm. “He always stood up in place of injustice, and was eager to help those in need, but he could never be bought”, he further stated. This is the third book published by Wijith, who is also an experienced journalist. It is a publication of Agahas Publication House.
The event was made more colourful with the voice of the famous radio personality Ms. Chitra Kumari Kalubowila, and was attended by many well known personalities including the former MP Tissa Aththanayake and Sumana Lellampitiya.
The launching of the WIFI facility for journalists inside the Sri Lank Press Institute(SLPI) premises, commemorating Elmo Fernando, was conducted parallel to the book launch. Kumar Lopez, Chief executive officer of the SLPC stated that many journalists starting up their journeys will benefit from this facility, which will be turned in to a hot desk to be used by the journalists for their research and learning purposes even after the working hours.
“The good name of Elmo will continue to shine even after his death”, he concluded.
Pix by Nisal Baduge