130th Birth Anniversary - October 20, 2017
Don Stephen Senanayake was born on October 20, 1884 at Botale Walawwa in Dedigama Electorate. DS, as he was popularly known, was the third Son of Late Mudaliyar Don Spater Senanayake. He obtained his education at S. Thomas’ College, then situated at Mutwal, Colombo. He was married to Molly Dunuwila and he was the most outstanding political leader of Sri Lanka since Independence Era.
The present generation should know about this great exemplary leader of Sri Lanka who was associated with all the political Leaders and spearheaded the Independence struggle of the then Ceylon. He and his elder brother F.R. Senanayake and other associated colleagues namely Sir D.B. Jayathilake, Sri Ponnambalam Ramanadhan, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, T.B. Jayah, E.W. Perera and many others led the Independence movement of Ceylon. This intelligent and enthusiastic group was the architect in the struggle to win the Independence without shedding even a drop of blood.
DS, although his family belonged to the dignified society, he never lost the common touch as he was very close with the common man. DS left the school at seventh standard and joined the family owned plantation and graphite company. He was a popular character in Ceylon known as “Kale John”. He was a keen sportsmen who took part in cricket and wrestling, horse riding.
Later proceeded to work in the State Survey Department for a short period. His Talents were purely identified by his father and admitted him to the government farm school at Gannoruwa which was set up by the British in order to provide Vocational Training to Youth in Agriculture and animal husbandry. After obtaining the basic training from the farm school, young DS was fully involved with their family’s plantation and graphite companies.
In 1915, Sinhala-Muslim riots erupted in the Gampola area and later its spread to the other parts of the country. DS and other leaders were arrested by the British rulers to prove that DS was directly involved with the riots. However, they were released from jail due to lack of proof.
In 1924, DS became a member of the National Legislative Council, and subsequently with the dawn of the reforms of Donoughmore Commission, he became the Minister of Lands and Agriculture in 1931. The new Minister of Lands and Agriculture was able to restore the tanks and irrigation network of the dry zone of Ceylon.
“The Father of the Nation” should be remembered by all Sri Lankans - as hitherto - the most outstanding political leader ever"
The fertile lands were within the thick jungle in the dry zone; relocation of landless people was done by him under productive and well planned colonization schemes. He became the first people’s Prime Minister of Ceylon after Independence - September 24, 1947, DS inaugurated the United National Party (UNP) on September 6, 1946 with other political leaders of Ceylon and he was unanimously elected as the first leader of the UNP.
During his tenure in office as first Prime Minister of Ceylon he was able to launch Minneriya, Higurakkgoda, Bakamuna, Kahagama, Kalawewa, Minipe and Huniluwewa colonization schemes and settled farmer families who were brought from the other parts of the country. DS truly deserved to be the “father of the nation” due to his honesty, integrity and sincerity he showed towards the people and the nation. Therefore, D.S. Senanayake, “The Father of the Nation” should be remembered by all Sri Lankans - as hitherto - the most outstanding political leader ever produced by the country since the Independence till this date.
The writer is a Justice of Peace, Rtd. Snr. Asst. Secretary and Asst. Secretary Committee of Late D.S. Senanayake