name Rajapaksa is synonymous with the Giruwapattuwa in the
Hambantota District — the Kurakkan country.
How a man hailing from the Wellabodapattuwa in
the Galle district came to be writing about a dynasty in the
South, deeper than Galle, begs an explanation.
Since 1985 that means four years before I was
elected to represent the Galle district, I formed a voluntary
social service organisations - the Ambalangoda Deshapremi
Sanvidhanaya (an NGO incorporated by Act. No. 47 of 1992) which
helped children from low income families in the Galle district
in their educational activities by the award of A/Level
scholarships and a free English programme at two centres in
Galle and Ambalangoda, sponsored by the Maharaja Organisation
Mahinda Rajapaksa has been the chief guest on
two occasions at our annual scholarship awards ceremonies when
he was a PA Cabinet Minister - once as the Minister of Labour
and Vocational Training thereafter as the Minister of Fisheries
and Aquatic Resources.
On both occasions he was thoroughly impressed
with the work and the organisational skills of the Sanvidhanaya
and requested the writer’s assistance to revamp a similar
organisation that he had started in the Hambantota District in
memory of his father D. A. Rajapaksa.
‘It is not running as smoothly as your
organisation. Machan, can you come and stay a weekend to
recognise the scheme and also talk to our organisers?’
When a question of education arises, it doesn’t
matter who does it and what political party he belonged to.
That was why I spent a weekend at the ‘Carlton’
— Mahinda’s home in Tangalle - much to the surprise of both PA
and UNP supporters. Some may have believed, I am sure, that I
was going to do a political jump.’
Many have asked me as to how I managed to
conduct the affairs of the ADS, for so long a period of time. My
answer was very simple ‘No politics’.
We never considered race, religion or political
differences when selecting children for the scholarships or the
As Mahinda was basically a politician, I had to
investigate whether the selection of students for scholarship
awards had any political undertones. I arrived at the town
reception hall well ahead of the time scheduled for the meeting
whilst Mahinda left for Matara as he was chief guest at a
cricket match between the Sri Lanka team (then captained by the
‘local boy Sanath Jayasuriya) and a Rest team. Mahinda asked me
to start the proceedings and promised to join the ceremony
I made use of the opportunity to speak to the
children and the parents. The children-50 of them were seated on
the right of the stage and the parents to the left.
I found that the children were all from very
poor families in the Hambantota district. Their parents were
either farmers, chena (slash and burn) cultivators or peasants
owning a few heads of cattle. I also discovered that all the
children had a minimum of 7 distinction passes at the ‘O’
Levels. I have a habit of testing the General Knowledge of the
students whenever I address an audience of students.
I told them that I was indeed privileged to
address the very fortunate young men and women from the
Giruwapattuwa which will produce the future leaders of the
‘If the leader is appointed from the ‘wrong’
party then, it will be my friend and your Minister Mr. Mahinda
Rajapaksa. The future, leader hailing from Giruwapattuwa on the
‘right’ party will also be a person I used to call ‘putha’, from
almost the day he was born - ‘Sajith Putha’.
There were peals of laughter and applause and I
knew that Mahinda had not considered petty politics in the
selection of scholarship recipients.
I told the parents that their children would
answer the questions to exhibit their knowledge. I asked the
first child — a girl with 7 distinctions to name the person who
was known as the Father of Free Education. She did not know the
answer. I then put the question to the 49 other scholarship
recipients. The silence was deafening. No one knew the answer.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, the Father of Free Education would have
been turning in his grave in shame at the ingratitude of the
very beneficiaries of the Free Education system that he
Not only did these children with a fine academic
record at GCE ‘O’ Levels did not know who the father of Free
Education was (inspite of every school in the country expected
to hold a ‘Kannangara Day’ in memory of Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara)
but also were unable to answer the other simple questions put by
me such as who the Father of the Nation was and who the First
Prime Minister of Ceylon was? To the latter question several
children answered ‘S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike.’
Then I told the children that instead of asking
questions about personalities at national level. I would come
‘home’ to Giruwapattuwa and asked the children as to who was the
person who was popularly known as the ‘Lion of Ruhuna’?
Believe me readers, not a single child could
even answer that! One smart lass, thought since the scholarships
were given in memory of the late Mr. D. A. Rajapaksa the ‘Lion
of Ruhuna’ was D. A. Mahinda’s father. She had the audacity to
refer to Mr. D. A. Rajapaksa as just ‘D. A. Rajapaksa’. I had to
admonish her that when referring to an elder whether dead or
alive she must be respectful. ‘This was more important than
securing a distinction pass’ I told the gathering. In fairness
to the young lady, she promptly apologised and said ‘Mr.’ D. A.
I was shocked at the ignorance of these students
who were considered to represent the ‘cream’ of the student
population in the District, reading for their ‘A’ Levels.
If I was shocked the parents were dumb-founded
at the pathetic display of ignorance on the part of their
offspring. The Directors of Education who were on stage were
writhing in acute embarrassment at the performance of that wards
who had a ‘brilliant academic’ record ‘on paper’.
Halfway through my speech, Mahinda walked in and
I announced: ‘Here comes your Leader of the ‘wrong side’ to
peals of laughter and thunderous applause (the laughter due to
my comment and the applause to welcome the future leader from
the wrong party!)
Mahinda was told the terribly low standard of
General Knowledge of the students by somewhat embarrassed
Never a man to runaway from a difficult
situation in real or political life, Mahinda asked in his
speech, ‘Oh! what are these mistakes’?. Turning to me and
calling me ‘Manthrithuma’, he said,’ Manthrithuma
these children are yet to enter the University. I have told you
the story of University graduates from the Beliatta Electoral
Division whom I wanted to appoint to my then Ministry of Labour
and some of them did not know who the Minister of Labour was.
According to Gunasiri Weerakoon, the Commissioner of Labour with
whom I pleaded that he should not ask difficult questions at the
interview as they were his ‘game lamai’ (village lads)
some graduates when asked to name an institutions that came
under the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training had
replied, ‘Social Service Department’!.
Although it is unlikely that any of these 50
children who received scholarships on that day would read this
article simply because it appears in an English weekly (and
English is Greek to most of them) I thought of writing about the
Rajapaksas of Giruwapattuwa at least for the sake of posterity.
As I myself knew only very little of this mighty
dynasty in the South (and little knowledge was always very
dangerous as is obvious from the doings and utterances of some
of the Members of the Cabinet) I wanted authoritative
information about the Rajapaksa clan.
The amiable Chamal, the eldest of DA’s nine
children put me in touch with a daughter of the ‘Lion of Ruhuna’
Chamal gave the telephone number and said Kamala
was a Mrs. Wijesuriya and I immediately asked Chamal, ‘Isn’t
Wijesuriya’ a Karawa ‘ge’ name? to which Chamal chuckled and
said, ‘yes’ yes she married one of yours’.
I am yet to meet this most interesting lady in
the flesh. Our contact have been to date via the telephone. As
Chamal said she was most helpful, full of wit and humour and did
not hesitate to disclose her age (67) unlike most others of the
same species, whilst also divulging some very personal
information, knowing very well that it would soon appear on
Kamala was the fifth child (third daughter) of
DM. She was educated at Visaka Vidyalaya. She married out of her
caste (Goigama) for which ‘Sin’ she was treated as an outcaste
by some of her family - notably the females. She was however
welcomed into the fould her brothers and uncles - notably
Mahinda’s father DA.
She said not only was she welcomed but also used
as a ‘bait’ to ‘fish’ for the Karava votes in predominantly
Karawa hamlets in Mulgirigala, Beliatta and Tissamaharama
Electorates where her relatives contested. She used to be
‘displayed’ in Karawa areas and the message to the Karawa voters
was that ‘the Rajapaksa’s are your relations!’
The Rajapaksa ‘Family Tree’ as supplied by
Kamala starts with D. M.’s father - Don Davith Rajapaksa
Vidanarachchi who married Dona Gimara.
As this is an article not a thesis I shall
confine myself to the politicians of this mighty clan.
Don David Rajapaksa (Vidanaarachchi) + Dona
1) Don Coronelis Rajapaksa (eldest son) -
2) Dona Carolina Bandara Weeraman nee Rajapaksa
3) Don Mathew Rajapaksa (D.M. 2nd son)
4) Don Alvin Rajapaksa (D.A. youngest son)
Don Mathew Rajapaksa (D.M.) + Emalyn Weeratunga
1) Lakshman Rajapaksa - son
2) George Rajapaksa + Lalitha > (1) Nirupamala
ex-state Minister of Tourism (2) Shyamlat ex PC Member (SP)
3) Esther Rajapaksa
4) Pearl Rajapaksa
5) Kamala Rajapaksa
6) Niel Rajapaksa
7) Ruby Rajapaksa
Kamala told me that when her father (D.M.) was
to marry Emalyn from the aristocratic Weeratunga family, (one of
the more famous of the Weeratunga family was ‘Bull’ Weeratunga)
there had been some reservations initially from the bride’s
‘Why should we marry into a family living in a
thatched house rearing cattle?’ were the objections. Kamala says
until quite recently her ‘Maha Gedara’ had thatched roof and her
father owned several fine heads of cattle.
One yardstick of judging the social standing of
a family in the olden days was the number of heads of cattle the
family possessed. Weeratunga’s ancestoral house was known as
Paregedara in Madihe at Matara. The hamlet Madihe had
two powerful castes. The most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Maha
Nayaka Thero who hailed from a Christian family background was
from the ‘Durawa’ caste whilst the Weeratunga were
The ‘minor’ objections were discarded and D.M.
and Emalyn were soon united in matrimony.
Don Alvin Rajapaksa (D.A.) was the youngest son
of Don David Rajapaksa the Vidanaarachchi and the younger
brother of D.M.
D. A. married Dandina Samarasinghe Dissanayake
of Palatuwa in Matara and they had nine children - the eldest
Don Alvin Rajapaksa (D.A.) + Dandina
1) Chamal - son
2) Jayanthi - daughter (deceased)
3) Mahinda - son
4) Chandra Tudor - son
5) Gotabhaya - son
6) Basil - son
7) Dudley - son
8) Preethi - daughter
9) Chandani - daughter
D.A. who was a founder member of the UNP named a
son after Mr. Dudley Senanayake.
When S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike defected from the
D. S. Senanayake, government, many UNPers had promised to cross
the floor with him. But when S. W. R. D. crossed the great
divide and looked over his shoulder to see the procession of
defectors he saw only one man - D.A. following him like his
shadow (several other UNPers ‘crossed over’ later - but it was
only D.A. who actually crossed the floor with Banda).
I used to tease the Rajapaksa brothers - Chamal
and Mahinda in Parliament saying that they reminded me of the
Gira Pothaka story (story of the two baby parrots) of the
Buddhist Jathaka stories.
The story goes thus:
A gale blew away two baby parrots from their
nest. One baby parrot fell into a den inhabited by highway
robbers. The other fell into a hermitage. The two baby birds
grew up and started mimicking the words frequently uttered by
their respective mentors. The bird with the highway robbers
uttered the words ‘Kill’, ‘Hit’, ‘Rob’, etc., whilst the bird in
the hermitage uttered words such as ‘Please come’. ‘Please sit
down. ‘How are you?’ etc.
I told the Rajapaksa duo that while Chamal was
the bird that lived with the hermits, Mahinda was the one who
lived with the robbers. They never took offence at my
But now at the rate Mahinda is frequenting
temples he would not only out do his elder brother but also is
likely to break Premadasa’s record as well!
D. M.’s father was by all means a villager -
though a primus inter pares (first amongst equals) being
a Vidanarachchi ‘Ralahamy’, he realized the value of educating
The Rajapaksa’s ancestral seat was at
Buddiyagama off Tangalle in the Hanbantota District and all the
children of the Vidanarachchi Ralahamy first went to the village
school - the Mandaduwa Primary School.
(Next Sunday — D. M. Rajapaksa ‘The Lion of