hose who have known or met the second Prime Minister of then Ceylon are but a few among the living now, albeit few relatives. Those who are living but yet remember to give the information are even less in number.
Some of us were fortunate, to have had memorable encounters, with the much loved figure and to have been brought up in households where it is ensured that fond memories of a great man are passed on to the next generation-to inform that there did live such great leaders.
When I put pen to paper, on a life of an extraordinary man, this precisely is the reason.
What better tribute would be fitting, I thought on the occasion, than recording the views and experiences of those actually involved in the preparation of the tedious task undertaken over the last months, the making of the statue and the installation of it, in preparation of this unveiling of a brand new statue. No doubt that is how he, Dudley Senanayaka would have wanted it.
Never has there been a time – post independence, so much than now, where the mere mentioning of the name Dudley Shelton Senanayaka, is immediately followed by heavy sighs of sadness and a wish with a prayer for politicians of his caliber to emerge.
This was a common phenomenon experienced by many of the Dudley Senanayaka Memorial Society Committee members who were tasked with the work at hand after the decision to install a new statue of Prime Minister Dudley Senanayaka adjacent to what is commonly known as the Kanatte Roundabout was made.
At the function arranged tomorrow, where President, Maithripala Sirisena will unveil the new Bronze statue and will also officially declare the name of the roundabout too, fittingly to be known hereafter, as the Dudley Senanayaka Roundabout which was earlier known as the Borella Kanatte Roundabout.
The story of the new Bronze statue began with the newly reorganized Dudley Senanayaka Memorial Society, which gathered at the Board Room of the Young Men’s Buddhist Association early this year.
It’s patrons, Rukman Senanayaka, President of the Society, Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku and the Society’s Secretary, Chandima De Silva who collectively spearheaded the Committee at its’ first meeting, before the death anniversary in April, informed of the decision with much enthusiasm.
Representatives of the committee members, grand nephews, Ruwan Wijewardena and Vasantha Senanayaka, both now Parliamentarians serving the Government of Sri Lanka were also present.
The new statue to be in bronze and one that would be true to the shape and form and to the height and stature of the 2nd Prime Minister was tasked to the renowned sculptor Gunasena Kurulugama.Outstanding work of Kurulugama already adorns the City of Colombo with the statues such as, of N.M. Perera, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Peter Kenaman, Gamini Dissanayaka and Dharmasiri Senanayake.
A recipient of the Kala Vibushana awards, Kurulugama was ecstatic at being given the task and told that to do one of Dudley Senanayaka is an honor and a challenge.
After its completion while meeting him at the site of the installation taking place, Kurulugama said “The work on the statue took nearly three months” . The statue is made out of cement in bronze colour and weighs 800 kilos and has a height of 8’ feet 6’ inches, he revealed.
Mr. Chandima De Silva Secretary to the Dudley Senanayaka Memorial Society, in addition to seeing the entire operation of the old statue that was removed and the installation of the new one, was also tasked to the renaming of the roundabout too, to its’ successful implementation with his own team and spearheading the organizing of the ceremony for the unveiling of the new bronze statute.
The Dudley Senanayake statue that stood at the Borella Kanatte Roundabout was originally at the Borella Main Junction, the intersection of four roads.
Records show that the first statue installed in that location in Borella in memory of Dudley Senanayaka soon after his untimely death, was carefully moved to the Kanatte Roundaboute to safeguard it from road expansion and development was in fact the timely and good deed of late Barethe Lakshman Premechandra.
Speaking to his wife Mrs. Premechandra, who was herself a follower of Mr. Dudley Senanayaka’s politics, more details were found.
Describing the time she said “Dudley Senanayaka was my hero. We would admire and respect him as our leader in his time and after. I would collect all the memorabilia and is in the possession of a large collection of his election time badges, hand- outs and newspaper articles.”
“My husband was the SLFP Borella organizer at the time, he intervened and made an appeal to the RD that he would take it upon himself to relocate the statue.
Politician, Late Barethe Lakshamn Premechandra, had offered to take the responsibility personally of paying the taxes for the new location for which the wife continues to make payment to this day.
When the location was to be decided on, Premechandra made sure that the statute does not get situated in the island at the Centre of the Borella Kanatte intersection therefore he personally chose carefully a suitable place for its re-location on the side of the Kynsey road turn off.
Eventually Premachandra received the letter authorizing installation. Recalling the incident Mrs. Premachandra said upon receiving the letter, “my husband would joke with me saying he took best care of my hero and it was ironically located a stone’s throw away from his own office and he added that would be able to keep an eye on it for it’s safety”.
Although it is over 60 years since he stepped into the lime light as the son of the father of the nation, at 35 years of age, and four decades have passed since his untimely death, such is the magnitude of the affection and reverence of this great leader but yet a man of the common people. The public outpouring to help is testimony, to the fact that he was a firm favourite of all walks of life, and a leader of all time.
Tomorrow the new bronze statue will be unveiled adjacent to the Dudley Senanayaka Roundabout.
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