D. A. Rajapaksa – great son of Ruhuna
It is a great pleasure to hear that, from time immemorial, our
country which was eulogized as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and Granary
of the East was the motherland of great rulers, sophisticated and
religious intellectuals with pious sentiments, knowledgeable persons
etc. Such literati built the country and the nation; developed and
protected the religion; made the people happy and delighted; created and
nurtured a predominant culture, art and literature and provided valuable
models that other nations in the world might follow.
Late D. A. Rajapaksa was a prominent figure among such geniuses who
were born in this precious land in the 20th century and acted with
foresight to achieve the present development and to usher a ‘Prosperous
future’ for us, developing our land more and more, day by day.
D. A. Rajapaksa who was born on March 30, 1905 in Buddiyagama,
Weeraketiya had his primary education at the village school at Mandaduwa
and secondary education at Richmond College, Galle. He entered the field
of Social Services following in the footsteps of his forefathers in
Ruhuna. D. A. Rajapaksa was the third son of loving parents, Don Davith
Rajapaksa Vidana Arachchi and Dona Gimara Weerakoon Ratnayaka. Unique
human characteristics including pleasantness, foresight and modesty were
some of the valuable traits visible throughout his exemplary life.
Freedom and peace
The Rajapaksa generation of Weeraketeiya shone with many astute
leaders and chieftains who rendered yeoman services for the advancement
of the nation earning great respect and affection of the people of
Ruhuna. Late D. D. Rajapaksa, D. C. Rajapaksa, Member of State Council –
D. M. Rajapaksa, Ministers of the Parliament of Sri Lanka. D. A.
Rajapaksa and Minister and Advocate George Rajapaksa, Deputy Minister
Lakshman Rajapaksa and Neel Rajapaksa were among them. They were not
lacking in good qualities, such as, modesty, creativity in development,
respect to the Sasana, piety and bravery which are unique to the
Rajapaksas of the Ruhuna. Fulfilling their mission with dedication they
could place our nation on the track of development, freedom and peace
where our country is standing today.
D. A. Rajapaksa was elected uncontested to the Hambantota seat of the
State Council in 1945 where he embarked on his long political journey.
He had to come forward to fill the political vacuum created by the
untimely demise of D. M. Rajapaksa, his elder brother who was called the
‘Lion of Ruhuna’.
Party organizers went to Weeraketiya to meet D. A. Rajapaksa to
obtain his signature for the by-election nomination papers for the
Hambantota seat of the State Council. They met him at his paddy field at
Medamulana. Having washed his hands in the nearby stream, he received
the organizers with a humble smile. They left the place with his consent
for signing the nomination papers and keeping in mind that “the farmer
who washed off the mud is suitable for kingship.” Subsequently, he could
climb up to the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture. First, he was
elected to the State Council as the member of the Hambantota District on
July 14, 1945 (The State Council’s first sat on August 8,1945) and then,
to the first Parliament of Independent Sri Lanka representing the
Beliatta seat. Holding offices, such as, Member of Parliament, deputy
ministerial portfolios, chairmanships of committees and the post of
Deputy Speaker over a long time, he was won very popular among ordinary
He entered politics before Sri Lanka gained independence, i.e. during
the period that the struggle for freedom was in progress. He had no
hesitation to fight for freedom together with his brother, D.M.
Rajapaksa who was the pioneer of the Ruhunu freedom struggle. They won
the freedom struggle. He was fortunate to be a partner of such a
He took great pains to develop agriculture in our country taking
advantage of his membership in the Parliament, deputy ministerial
portfolio for agriculture and ministerial portfolio of agriculture.
Being of immense assistance to Philip Gunawardhana to formulate the
Paddy Lands Act, he expedited its implementation. The designing and
renovation of irrigation schemes were subject to his special attention.
Therefore, he made a great contribution to the effort of S.W.R.D.
Bandaranaike in the implementation of the Udawalawe, Chandrika Wewa and
Walawe Ganga schemes.
Furthermore, he worked hard to implement irrigational schemes, such
as, Uruboku Oya, Kirama Oya, Muruthawela and Udukiriwila in the
Hambantota district. Hansard records of 1955 provide clear evidence for
his tireless efforts that made Sri Lanka a self-sufficient country by
distributing crown lands among farmers who did not have their own lands.
He monitored and encouraged the supplying of seeds for cultivation
providing credit facilities for agricultural work, promoting sales and
setting up farmer committees. Those who received his services are
eternally grateful to him for the services he rendered to them. Focusing
special attention towards education, he donated a block of land from his
private properties to initiate Medamualana Vidyalaya. The number of
scholars, intellectuals and professionals produced by this school
amounts to a thousand. Moreover, new rural schools were set up in this
era. He was instrumental in initiating Ittademaliya Government School,
Weeraketiya and Muslim College, Yakkasmulla.
Acting with deep respect towards other religions as well as Buddhism,
he could win the plaudits of all religious dignitaries. Through these
relations he made an immense contribution to initiate, develop and
protect sacred places. This great leader visited Buddhist temples
frequently and participated in numerous meritorious deeds, community
services and functions organized by various societies set up by ordinary
masses. D. A. Rajapaksa’s parents groomed their offspring in these good
deeds. Accordingly, they gifted nine children i.e. President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development
Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, late Jayanthi,
Chandra, Preethi – Attorney-at-Law, Gandini and scientist – Dudley to
this country, nation and religions.
The present day Rajapaksas managed to establish peace and unity in
our country eliminating conflicts among people, terrorists’ acts, civil
commotions which internally affected the progress of Sri Lanka since
1970. Therefore, every ethnic group is represented in Parliament,
Provincial Councils and Local Government bodies and persons irrespective
their cast, creed or religion, holding high posts in the governing
structure. All of us now enjoy the fruits of peace, relief and freedom.
Fear of war, bombs and death has been alleviated and economic
development has been speeded up.
Central Bank reports indicate a rapid development growth which has
never been seen in this country. Leaders of other countries express
their wonder over the way in which Sri Lanka successfully defeated
terrorism, which other powerful nations have failed to do so. We could
enjoy such a victory because of D. A. Rajapaksa’s farsighted actions to
save this country from an unpleasant political situation and his efforts
to instill such qualities in to his offspring; who were taught
co-existence, national integrity, tolerance, foresight and good
characteristics to his children. The present day Rajapaksas who are the
epitome of such policies duly perform their duties maintaining close
relations with all ethnic groups ie. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and
Burghers. They also have very close and cordial ties with world leaders.
As far as his views and efforts are concerned, D. A. Rajapaksa was an
incomparable great leader with farsighted intelligence. He loved all
citizens with fatherly-affection. It is our fervent hope that he may
attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.
The writer is the Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Arts.