assassination of a Prime Minister 50 years ago
The fourth Prime
Minister of Ceylon,
Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike
By Lloyd Rajaratnam Devarajah
on the morning of Friday, September 25, 1959 — 50 years
ago — that the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon (now
called Sri Lanka) Solomon West Ridgeway Dias
Bandaranaike, was brutally gunned down at his Rosmead
Place residence in Colombo, by a fanatic, saffron-robed,
head-shaven Buddhist monk.
resigned my permanent, pensionable and secure job in the
Posts and Telecommunications Department after seven and
a half years of service, in August 1959, I became a
“stringer” reporter for the now defunct Times of Ceylon
group of newspapers. Earlier, I was free-lancing for the
Times, since 1953.
that fateful Friday morning, I was carrying one-year old
Lakshan Amarasinghe my next door neighbour, to show him
the two pups littered by my Alsatian dog. As I was
showing him the pups in the back verandah of my Moor
Road house at Wellawatte, the telephone rang. Donovan
Moldrich, news editor of the Times of Ceylon was on line
and he asked me to “Come to office right away as
something tragic has happened.”
not spell out what it was, but I noticed the time was
10.20 am. I went next door and left Lakshan and I got
dressed up and as I was about to step out of my house, I
heard Lakshan’s father Alfred Amarasinghe returning home
in his car, shouting to my father, (reading the morning
Ceylon Daily News seated in an easy chair on the front
verandah) that “the Prime Minister has been shot and
An assassination attempt
reached the gate, the phone rang again and I returned to
answer it. It was Felix Gunawardena, editor of the
Sunday Times asking me to proceed direct to the
Colombo where the Prime Minister had been brought, “
After an assassination attempt.”
direct to the hospital and I saw a truck-load of police
getting off and positioning themselves at various
strategic points in the vicinity. I moved around and saw
two of my colleagues, veteran reporters K. Nadarajah who
was also working for the Indian Express and M.K. Pillai
also correspondent for the Times of India there.
spotted E.C.B. Wijesinghe working for the Reuters news
agency there. I reached there at
11.10 am and was with them until
pm when another veteran journalist / colleague Shelton
Liyanage (Fernando) also working for the Statesman
Calcutta, came to relieve me.
time I left, the Prime Minister was still in the
operating theatre. The emergency operation was performed
by Dr. M.V.P.Peries, Dr. P.R. Anthonis and Dr.Noel
Bartholomeusz and lasted a little over five hours.
Continue with the meeting
Earlier, the Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke
who was swearing-in the Italian Ambassador Count Paolo
di Michelis di Sloughhello, stopped the ceremony and
N.M.Perera and Philip Gunawardena who were in the House
of Representatives (Parliament) went to the PM’s
residence on hearing about the shooting. A message had
also been sent from
Queens’ House (Governor General’s official residence) to
parliament to continue with its meeting. W. Dahanayake
had suggested that parliament be adjourned but Dr.
Perera said that “There was no need to panic.”
time of the shooting incident, there were many people as
usual, waiting to meet the Prime Minister in the
verandah of his house. Among them were two saffron-robed
Buddhist monks. After meeting one of them and bowing to
him in reverence, Bandaranaike turned towards the second
monk. Whilst bowing, the second monk suddenly pulled out
a .45 revolver from under his yellow robes and shot at
the PM at point-blank range.
Bandaranaike turned and ran into the house and in the
process, three shots hit him in the hand and abdomen,
whilst two hit the glass pane of a nearby door and a
flower pot in the verandah.
people who were waiting to meet the PM, immediately set
upon the Buddhist monk and mauled him mercilessly. A
policeman on sentry duty there, also shot at the
Buddhist monk and wounded him on the thigh and arrested
Governor-General declared a State of
throughout the island at 11 am and the Army, Navy and
Airforce units including volunteers were mobilised in
order to suppress any civil commotion.
reached office the Times which had already put out two
editions about the shooting incident, put out its third
edition giving more details of that day’s assassination
5 pm, I left in a taxi with Sunday Times feature writer
Samson Abeygunawardena to meet Dr. Gamini Corea at his
Horton Place Colombo residence. The entrances to Rosmead
place as well as the adjoining Barnes Place and Horton
Place which were guarded by armed police, were closed to
all vehicular traffic. We got off the taxi and walked
about 200 yards and met Dr. Corea and collected an
article on “Ceylon’s population problem” for the Sunday
Times National Forum Column.
Biting into a sandwich
that, we proceeded to
Kollupitiya and met Dr. L.O de Silva at his clinic,
where there was a large number of patients. The doctor
was biting into a sandwich which he told us was his late
lunch. He said he was in the operating theatre and the
surgery “lasted a little over five hours.” He also told
us “The first 24 hours after the operation was very
returned to office at about 7.15 pm, many of my
colleagues were also there. I was then directed by
Moldrich to be at the General Hospital the following
morning (Saturday, September 26, 1959) at 6 am. When I reached the hospital at
am, my colleagues Nadarajah, Liyanage and Pillai were
already there keeping vigil, for any new developments
about the PM.
Shortly after, that Saturday morning, Shelton came
hurriedly down the hospital corridor and signalled me to
grab the telephone in the solitary booth in the hospital
vicinity, before anyone else got hold of it. As he
approached me he grimaced indicating that it was all
finished. Shelton took the receiver from me and phoned
through to Moldrich that the PM had passed away.
reached the Times news room at 9.25 am, the first
edition of the Saturday Times of Ceylon was already out.
The headline read “The Prime Minister is dead.”
Joked with the doctors
hours after the operation the previous day, the PM had
joked with the doctors and nurses around his bedside.
asked one of the Nurses “How am I doing?” She replied
“You are doing fine, Sir.” “Yes I am an old man and have
undergone a five hour stomach operation but I still have
guts,” the PM declared.
Buddhist monk who carried out the assassination was
Talduwe Somarama Thero, an eye specialist and a visiting
lecturer at the College of Indigenous Medicine, Borella
and also of the Amaravihare,
official bulletin on the PM’s death stated; “The
condition of the Prime Minister suddenly took a turn for
the worse about 7 am. There was a sudden alteration of
the action of the heart and his condition deteriorated
very rapidly. He passed off peacefully about 8 o’clock.”
Dr. P.R. Anthonis Dr. T.D.H. Perera and Dr. M.J.A.
Shortly after the news of the death spread throughout
the country, there were several incidents where Buddhist
monks had been abused, harangued and even assaulted.
This resulted in the monks fearing to step out of their
temple premises and were mostly confined indoors for
about six weeks, after the assassination.
verdict of homicide was recorded by the City Coroner
J.N.C Tiruchelvam J.P.U.M at the inquest. He said “death
was due to shock and haemorrhage resulting from multiple
injuries to the thoracic and abdominal organs.”
Prime Minister’s funeral was held on Wednesday,
September 30, 1959, where his body was entombed into a vault at his ancestral Horagolla
last 60 years of my life
Customs house agent
to Customs long ago in 1947 when I was just about 17
years old. It was my brother-in law A.C.M. Mohideen who
introduced me to the wharf. He was working under his own
father, I.L.M. Gafoor. Gafoor had his own clearing
agency named I.L.M Gafoor Clearing Agency.
started my job as a delivery clerk and worked under him
till 1953, which year I left his employment to join a
circus. I met with an accident while working in the
circus and had to leave the circus.
returned to the Port again in 1956, and joined
Pioneering Agency. Its proprietor was H.D.S. Mohideen
Hajjiar. While I was working under him, about 10 years
later, Mohideen Hajjiar entrusted me the running of his
company and went to
for permanent residence as he had more business abroad.
was one Mehalar who was working under Mohideen Hajjiar
at that juncture and so I along with Mehalar started a
new clearing agency under the name Mehalar Clearing
Agency. By that time I was a very popular wharf clerk in
the Customs and also among the other wharf clerks. This
prompted me to think of starting a union for the wharf
word spread from mouth to mouth and I organised the very
first meeting which was convened at the small hall at
YMCA building at Chatham Street. That was in 1975. The
wharf clerks who gathered there elected me as their
president. We named the Union Sri Lanka Customs House
that point onwords I championed the cause of clearing
agents. Some time ago the Customs Department had
introduced a new regulation requiring all Customs House
Agents to have completed education at least up to GCE
(O/L). The regulation also required all Customs House
Agents to deposit Rs. 50,000 with Customs.
those days, majority of the clearing agents were not
educated up to GCE (O/L). Further, most of the wharf
clearing agents were attending to clearing work of only
one or two importers, and were unable to make a deposit
of Rs. 50,000. That was in 1978.
that time, Rs. 50,000 was a huge sum of money. Customs
Department had appointed Leighton and Wijekoon to
discuss that issue with the wharf clearing agents and
had given a date and time for the discussions.
attended the meeting and represented matters on behalf
of the wharf clerks. I pointed out that all the wharf
clerks working at that time had a very good working
knowledge of Customs matters and fairly long experience
in doing the job. So I suggested that those who had
completed 10 years as wharf clerks be exempted from this
New registration system
I pointed out that a deposit of Rs. 50,000 was very
unreasonable and suggested that it be reduced to Rs.
10,000. The committee agreed to both suggestions.
However, I am sorry to say that some of the wharf
clerks, who had completed education up to GCE (O/L) and
who could afford to make a higher deposit did not like
my idea. They wanted to push the old hands out of the
Port so that they could grab more work for themselves.
Customs Department started the new registration system
on those concessionary terms, and I too registered my
company accordingly under the name of Mehalar Clearing
Agency. After the demise of my partner Mehalar my
company functioned under the name of Master Freight
Agencies C&F (Pvt) Limited. That was from the year 1995.
From the time the company was known as Mehalar Clearing
Agency, and now after the name had been changed to the
present name Master Freight Agencies C&F (Pvt) Limited,
the company had a staff of around 30 wharf clerks
working under me. Some of them had since left the
company and opened up their own clearing agencies and
are now doing very well.
that time the Port was maintained by the Port Cargo
Corporation. When the Customs Department required any
repair — like replacing a bulb or a ceiling fan or
putting up a cubicle, the officers had to write to the
Port Cargo Corporation. The Port Cargo Corporation took
a long time to attend to such requests. Most of the
time, it was the Clearing Agents’
Union that attended to such minor repairs. Likewise, when
the clearing agents faced any difficulty, the Customs
officers assisted us in solving the problem.
Entries to be typewritten
ago, the Customs Entry Form was filled by hand and
submitted to Customs. The Principal Collector of
Customs, Dissanayaka decided that all Bill of Entries
should be typewritten. At that time, there was a group
of wharf clerks to attend to the preparation of the Bill
of Entries. They were upset that their jobs would be
jeopardised and protested over the new rule. They also
complained to the minister.
Dissanayaka called me and explained that it is the
government policy and requested me to help resolve the
issue. I then suggested to him that an office room
inside the Long Room should be provided for the Clearing
Agents’ Union, so that I could keep some typewriters
there with typists to type the Bill of Entries.
Dissanayaka agreed to that suggestion and the problem
Amarapala started the I&I Branch in the Preventive
Office itself. At the start, he used to stop at least 15
containers and those containers were examined under the
bridge adjoining the Preventive Office. That was not a
suitable place to examine containers. Due to inadequate
facilities there, the containers got held up. Out of
those containers, there were at least 10 containers
belonging to genuine importers and they suffered due to
that new arrangement.
Opening of branch offices
importers appealed to me and I had to speak to Amarapala
suggesting the opening of an office in warehouse. He
said that he too was looking for a suitable place and
requested me also to suggest a place. I found that space
was available at PVQ Repository Warehouse, and Amarapala
negotiated with the Ports Authority chairman and
obtained space there and opened the new I&I Office
there. Another I & I Branch Office was also opened in
QEQ Warehouse as well.
after opening the two I & I branches, there was a
considerable delay in clearing containers through I & I.
There were so many registers to register the containers
and it was difficult to obtain the services of officers
etc. I discussed those problems and solved them as
quickly as possible.
was an interesting incident that occurred at that time.
One of our members went into the cubicle of the senior
staff officer who was attending to another wharf clerk.
The staff officer was angry and shouted “One donkey at a
wharf clerk, a member of my union, was very hurt and
complained to me. I took him before the Principal
Collector and he on hearing of the incident, immediately
instructed that the staff officer concerned should
apologise to the wharf clerk, saying that “Wharf
clearing agent is the representative of the importer,
and is a part and parcel of the Customs.” That issue was
sorted out after the staff officer apologised to that
particular officer. This incident made me even more
popular among the wharf clerks.
Dissanayaka came for the ceremonial opening of the
office allocated for the Customs House Agents’ Union, he
made a speech, extolling the service provided by the
wharf clerks and commented that the wharf clerks
enjoyed a respectful position in developed countries. He
also said that Customs agents were known as Customs
brokers in those countries.
speech was sensational because it was instrumental in
changing the attitudes of the Customs officers in
general towards the wharf clerks.
was another incident in the Preventive Office. While
recording the statement of a wharf clerk, there had been
an argument in the presence of the importer, and the
assistant preventive officer who was recording the
statement had slapped the wharf clerk so hard, the
finger mark was clearly visible on the wharf clerk’s
face. The wharf clerk, instead of coming to me, went to
the police and lodged a complaint. He also had
complained to the Port Cargo Corporation as a result of
which arrangements had been made to interdict the
assistant preventive officer.
that juncture, the Assistant Preventive Officer (APO)
and the Chief Preventive Officer sought my assistance to
save the APO’s job. The importer was adamant that the
officer should be punished. With greatest difficulty, I
discussed with the parties for about a month, and
finally the importer and the wharf clerk were prepared
to accept the officer’s apology and settle the matter.
That too enhanced my popularity among the officers. In
fact I arranged a great party at the Preventive Office
the day the
APO concerned apologised to the wharf clerk. The issue was
thus amicably settled.
the Union president, use to organise several farewell
parties when senior Customs officers retired. We
arranged parties for Xavier, Mendis and Wijekoon, when
was another incident, this time involving the
classification of glass tumblers. Cumaranatunga who was
in the Treasury then (before that he was the Principal
Collector of Customs), informed Dissanayaka that beer
mugs and wine glasses were classified along with
ordinary glass tumblers and that was not correct.
Cumaranatunga wanted Dissanayaka to charge duties
separately on beer mugs and wine glasses.
However, until then, the Customs had classified all
three kinds as “Drinking Glasses.” However, the
importers were not in agreement. They decided to resort
to court action. As a result of this dispute there were
18 containers held up in the harbour for two months.
that juncture, I went to discuss the problem with the
Principal Collector of Customs, Dissanayaka. My argument
was that it was unfair for Customs to change the
classification decision all of a sudden after allowing
the clearance of the goods for so long under one
classification. I requested Dissanayaka to allow
clearance of the held up goods under the previous
classification, but classify the new arrivals under the
new classification. Dissanayaka agreed and a long
classification battle was resolved.
Dissanayaka left the Customs, Weerasekera became the DGC.
He too helped me a lot in his capacity as the DGC.
Later, Sarath Jayatilaka became the DGC. We were
overjoyed because Sarath Jayatilaka had been in the
Department for a long time and was a fully qualified
person to become DGC. He knew A-Z of Customs and was
capable of taking wise decisions. He was also very
helpful to wharf clearing agents in doing their
the Clearing Agents’
Union in 1995. The reason for the departure was mainly because the union
members were not supporting the union. Niaz, who became
the president after me, had faced the same problem. He
too was unable to serve the members because the members
were not supporting him. Now there is no one to attend
to Wharf Clearing Agents’ grievances.
was an anomaly in the recovery of excise duty and value
added tax on 40 units of electric motor bicycles
imported by one of my consignees into Sri Lanka for the
first time in the year 2002.
was due to non availability of the said item
identification number in the tariff guide at that time.
company was instrumental in getting an exemption of the
15% excise duty and a refund of 10% from the 20% VAT
imposed by the Customs on a directive issued by the
Deputy Secretary to the Treasury in the year 2003.
‘H.S.Number’ was also introduced subsequently for the
fist time for electrically operated motor bicycles as
suggested by my company as a result of which all
importers of the relevant bicycles benefited.
— A.H.A. Azeez
Bird trappers trapped by Wild Life’s
Birds used for
14 parrots, 10 mynahs, and six spotted doves were among
some starving birds held captive in a small cage on the
rooftop of a house down De Silva Cross Road, Kalubowila
when the ‘flying squad’ of the Department of Wild Life
raided the premises last Sunday after protests by
residents in the neighbourhood.
Angered residents however alleged that these birds were
a mere two days catch.
horrendous, the way the birds were being trapped and
caught each morning. They had a huge extending cage-like
structure on their rooftop — on one side were some fauna
and the other side was used to trap unsuspecting and
starving birds of all kinds. Every morning we used to
hear birds crying their hearts out, some were asking for
their mates, others screeching for their young ones.”
alleged a resident of a high rise residence.
moment the birds entered the cage to eat the food that
they kept in there, they were trapped in some tricky
steel netted structuring. We also saw birds struggling.
The screeching birds were then caught from this large
cage with the aid of a towel and put into a smaller one.
This has been going on for months,” alleged the
distressed residents and went on to say that their
environment has been now drained of all the bird life.
“We do not hear the cry of birds in our environment
except for the cries of distress when they are caught in
the morning,” they alleged.
Trapped in a wire cage
Assistant Director of Wild Life, P.F. Upali Pathmasiri
and his officers who conducted the raid said they were
taken aback when they saw the screeching birds trapped
in a wire cage sans food and water.
want the public to be vigilant of such offences. These
are birds that naturally occur in the habitat and some
of them are protected birds. It is an offence to trap
them or cage them or use them for commercial purposes,”
said Assistant Director Upali Pathmasiri.
Mystery surrounds the fate of the birds that have been
trapped in the past.
alleged offenders it is learnt are Maldivian nationals
who had reportedly told the authorities that the cage
was to protect their plants from squirrels.
Meanwhile, another raid has been conducted in Thihariya
on Monday where 10 protected birds – the bald-headed
Muniya were found trapped allegedly for commercial
Gunewardene, an Attorney at Law specialising in
environmental issues when contacted by The Sunday Leader
said the birds, be they protected or not cannot be caged
without the permission of the Department of Wild Life.
protected birds cannot be caged anyway the caging of
unprotected bird is an offence if the permission of the
Department of Wild Life has not been sought,” said
Reduction in offences
Attorney at Law Jagath Gunewardene went on to observe
that he has noticed a reduction of such offences from
is because some officials of the Department of Wild Life
have been conducting raids in an admirable manner and I
know that they are very much alert to complaints by the
public,” said Gunewardene
life Enthusiast and Advisor on fauna and flora, Ministry
of Environment, Vidya Amarapala when contacted by The
Sunday Leader said that there was a time in Sri Lanka,
during the pre-war days, when a dog was knocked down by
a vehicle the motorist would get off the vehicle and
see what he could do for the wounded or dying animal.
“There were also people in the neighbourhood who would
bring a mammoty and bury the dog. But today when a dog
gets knocked down, the cars run over the carcass again
and again,” observed a distressed Amarapala. “We have to
rebuild the love and affection that we have always had
in our blood,” he sad.
Minister of Environment is keen to bring back those
glorious days not only to fauna but also to flora. That
is why he has taken the initiative to establish a call
centre for an emergency response. Today the public can
call 1991 and make a complaint about any destruction to
the environment or any crime being committed against the
environment. Reports of illegal felling of trees, sand
mining and such other activities that ruin nature can be
reported on this telephone number. The setting up of
this emergency number will give the average man and
woman in society the encouragement to notify the
authorities of acts that will harm the environment,”
the participation of the general public that will
increase the efficiency of this mechanism,” observed
Sunday Leader learns that the trapped birds have now
been released to the environment – and have taken wing
to the nests of their loved ones.
US Ambassador Chief Guest at American
Chamber of Commerce AGM
The 17th Annual General Meeting of the American Chamber
of Commerce was held on Thursday, September 17, at the
Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Patricia A Butenis the newly
appointed American Ambassador to Sri Lanka was the chief
guest. Ms. Moji Akingbade was re-elected President of
The newly appointed Board of Directors
Front Row - Seated (from Left to Right)
Parveen Dassanayake (United Holidays), Nimal Cooke
(Maharaja Group), Prasath Nanayakkara - Secretary (Virtusa),
Moji Akingbade - President
Patricia A. Butenis (US Ambassador), Vijaya Ratnayake -
Vice President (Zodiac Medcials) , Amal Rodrigo -
Treasurer (Maersk), Nick Nicolaou (HSBC), Jerome Auvity
Back Row - Standing (from Left to Right)
Dissanayake (Delmege), Glen Rase (Citi Bank), Suresh De
Mel (Lanka Fishing Flies), Chullante Jayasuriya
(Executive Director), Nikhil Hidaramani (Hidramani
Group), Edward Heartney (US Embassy), Rohantha Peiris
(Ace Cargo), Mustanser Ali Khan (Ceylon Tobacco PLC)
were also appointed as directors . (Not in photograph).
Ambassador Butenis, in her address to AMCHAM members,
said that this was a historic time for Sri Lanka and
AMCHAM Members, as the end of the conflict will bring
with it many economic opportunities. She reiterated that
she and her colleagues at the US Embassy will work
closely with AMCHAM members and the rest of the business
community to ensure that Sri Lanka delivers on its
Gunewardene a Honourary Deputy Mayor in the US
M. Gunewardena, Sr. Coordinator to President Mahinda
Rajapakse to the United States and Consul General to
Colombia and Venezuela has been appointed Honourary
Mayor to City of Oceanside, California, USA and
Honourary Mayor to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Social
worker Gunewardene is also the political advisor to the
honourary mayor and the trade attache to the City of
Oceanside California. Photo shows Gunewardene receiving
show of talent, glamour and knowledge
a perfect show with an equal blending of beauty, glamour
and talent when the Ramani Arsecularatne International
Academy of Cosmetology and Fine Arts held its
convocation at the Oak Room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel
recently to celebrate the graduation of 56 students who
followed the one-year course of cosmetology and others
who followed courses in hairdressing.
evident by the creations that students had not only
learnt and sharpened their own talents but had been
guided by the beautiful veteran Beautician and
Hairdresser Ramani Arsecularatne.
gets new UNP organisers
Professor Ravindra Fernando, United National Party
organiser for Panadura, will be appointed from the
National List at the next general election. Panadura
electorate is to be divided into two sections and former
UC chairmen Deepthi Abeywickrama and Vijith Priyantha de
Silva are to be appointed as organisers.
in a Thanksgiving Service
The Revelations in acknowledgment of God’s benevolence
in their success, will hold a Service of Thanksgiving at
Church, No. 9, Kynsey Road Colombo 8 on Sunday,
October 4, at 6.30 pm. The collection from this
service will be donated towards a project relating to
IDP children in the north.
Revelations invite all friends, well wishers and all who
have helped, promoted, supported and uplifted them
throughout their 15-year musical journey to be present
at this service.
President of the Sri Lanka Housewives
Association, Colombo, Poornima Lakshman,
Vice President Rene Ismail and Secretary
Sepalika Pinto are seen lighting the
traditional oil lamp at their annual fund
raiser – Home-Makers Haven.
Losing hair: what you need to know
Why do males go
bald only t a defined line and hair loss stop at
that point? It's al to do with DHT
FRCS., FICS., FIACS., AM (Sing)
hair among young men and women would be disastrous and
most depressing during the period when they would wish
to look young and smart, and also the time they would
wish to attract the opposite sex. Losing hair on your
head makes you feel old, until one gets accustomed to
and most do accept the situation, without knowing that
scientific help is available. There are ways of
reversing the process provided you get the right advice
blessed with nearly 100,000 scalp hair follicles (roots)
at birth. (It is interesting to note that unborn babies,
grow fine, soft, un-pigmented hair that sheds about the
eighth month before birth). Some of us are lucky to
retain those hair roots actively till late in life,
besides thinning and greying of the hair shafts. Others
are less fortunate, including both genders, gradually
losing their hair at some stage in life, held so proud
and precious earlier.
we call this male type of balding, but fortunately,
women may have a similar pattern, but does not lead to
total baldness like the male counterparts. Under normal
circumstances hair growth in each root occurs in cycles,
and not continuously.
phases are described — anagen, catagen, and telogen
phases. Anagen is the active phase of growth. Telogen is
the resting stage for hair growth. Catagen is the period
of regression of the hair roots
Loss not visible
changes and the phases do not occur in the whole hair
bearing scalp simultaneously. Because it happens in
cycles the loss is not visible. We shed from about 50 to
100 hairs daily. This amount seen on the comb whilst
combing is normal. But more importantly, that amount of
new hairs should start growing simultaneously
the human hair roots behave independently and
differently from other mammals cannot be explained. In
short each human hair root has its own memory and
identity. This attribute helps when transplanting hair,
and is successful. Let’s discuss about the hair
structure, before getting on to the common causes of
hair shaft is elliptical, circular or flat in
cross-section, and has three concentric layers. Asians
have straight circular hair, and those that have wavy
and curly hairs are elliptical. Negroid hair is
flattened and ribbon like. The innermost core is the
medulla, a hollow air-filled space occupying the entire
length of the hair, and surrounding this, the cortex,
which makes up most of the bulk of the hair, is made of
a tough fibrous protein called keratin, same material
present in finger and toe nails. The protein is rich in
cysteine which cross links to form cystine as the hair
moves up the follicle. Cystine provides strength to the
hair shaft. Hairs have no nerve supply and can be cut
without inflicting pain.
outer layer is the cuticle composed of layers of
flattened cells displayed like the flat tiles on a roof,
overlapping each other at the edges. The healthy
appearance, such as shininess, brightness and strength,
depends how badly weathered these individual cells are.
It is akin to the damage that occurs to your roof tiles.
If the edges are cracked and separated, water creeps in,
weakens the hair shaft and premature ageing occurs. If
the cells are neatly tiled like on the roof, light will
be reflected evenly from this smooth surface and the
hair will appear glossy and smooth.
Weather beating of these tiles commonly happens on
standing in the hot sun daily waiting for the bus,
strong winds, and atmospheric pollution. Frequent usage
of strong shampoos, hot showers, and damage caused at
the salons, through waving, straightening, bleaching,
colouring, etc. would lead to chemical and physical
beating of these glossy tiles.
in these cell edges, unlike roof tiles can be repaired.
Daily conditioning your hair will fill those cracked
edges of the outer cuticle cells with silicon, found in
hair conditioners. Furthermore, the silicon gives that
strength, smoothness, and shine to the hair shafts.
Conditioners also reduce static electricity in the hair.
Both shampoo and conditioner in one is not generally
recommended. It is hard to believe that both in one will
perform their functions as good as when used separately.
Cucumber has sufficient silicon. Fresh slices when
rubbed on the hair fills those cracks, and give that
lustre to the cuticle cells (tiles). So, daily strong
shampooing is damaging whilst daily conditioning is
beneficial. A good shampoo should remove the buildup of
oil, dead skin, and atmospheric pollutants that bind to
the hair shaft and it should rinse cleanly the hair and
shampoos (low pH, 4.5 to 6.0) are said to be more
friendly and kind to the hair, and preserves the
protective acid mantle. Soap also does the same, but in
the presence of hard water may lead to build up of
insoluble soap salts and may cause some discomfort. Soap
does not cause premature shedding of hair or damage
roots, as believed by some. You may remember the
pre-shampoo era during and before the ’40s, men and
women did use soap on the scalp, with no complains of
loss or alopecia can be caused by several factors,
including hormone changes, physical damage, and mental
stress. In some cases, hair loss may also be the symptom
of certain fungal infections, immune system disorders,
or systemic diseases.
Another important factor that gradually damages your
hair shafts is the type of comb you use, and the way the
hair roots are stretched on combing, and the styling
that maintains them stretched the whole day. Ladies with
long hair face this situation.
Plastic type of brushes with soft spiky teeth well
spaced fixed onto the shaft are preferable, as there is
no tension on the hair roots when brushing.
number and type of melanosomes from melanocytes within
the hair bulb matrix determine hair colour. Melanosomes
are large, ellipsoid, and rich in melanin in dark hairs,
spherical in red hairs, and present in low numbers in
white, gray, and blond hairs. Bleaching is a lightening
of hair colour. Oxidizing agents, usually hydrogen
peroxide chemically changes the hair pigment melanin.
hydrogen peroxide is mixed with an alkaline ammonium
solution immediately before applying. This process
damages the keratin, rendering the hair dry, porous, and
more prone to tangling. The increased porosity of the
hair allows bleached hair to absorb more water through
cracked outer cells (tiles), resulting in longer drying
times, and increased susceptibility to humidity changes.
greying hairs a natural old remedy would be to rub
boiled karawila leaves extract on the hair frequently.
Frequent colouring and tinting of hair may also lead to
weakening, thinning and loss of hair. Semi-permanent
hair dyes are the most popular forms used at home and at
the salons. The chemicals used in such dyes will
penetrate the outer cells of the hair shaft, and cause
gradual damage to the structure of the hair.
Vegetable dyes derived from plants are also
semi-permanent dyes. They do not penetrate the outer
layers of the hair shaft and hence less damaging to the
Permanent dyes on the other hand penetrate the hair
shaft and get trapped within the hair cortex, and cannot
be removed by shampooing. The dye is mixed with the
developer, i.e. hydrogen peroxide - 20 volumes, which
generate a chemical reaction within the shaft of the
hair. Unfortunately, the bleaching reaction caused by
hydrogen peroxide is damaging to the keratin, leading to
breakage of the hair shaft.
Female Androgenetic Alopecia
distribution of hair at the time of puberty and
development of other secondary sexual characteristics in
both genders are totally under the influence of the
hormones secreted in the sex glands. The male
hormone-testosterone, the dominant one in males, is
produced in the testicles during puberty and continues
during ones sexual life. In the female testosterone is
secreted in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Excess
secretion of the male hormones in females lead to
androgenetic type of hair loss.
travels in the bloodstream to the hair follicles.
However, testosterone does not kill off the hair
follicles (roots) directly. It is converted, inside the
follicle, to a much more powerful hormone called dihydro-testosterone
(DHT). DHT has a great effect on the hair follicles,
affecting them in different ways in different parts of
the body. On the face and chest, DHT stimulates the
growth of thick curly hair. This contrasts with its
effect on the scalp where it makes hair thin out and
eventually kills off the follicles altogether, on the
hairline, sides of the frontal scalp (receding), and the
males go bald only to a defined line and hair loss stops
at that point? This is because the DHT receptors are in
the area that goes bald and not in the part that does
not. Another important question is — why do hair
transplants grow in the bald area if it has
concentrations of DHT that kills hair follicles? It is
believed that the DHT receptors are actually in the
follicle itself. If they do not exist in the follicle
that is transplanted then they are unaffected by the DHT
levels in the surrounding tissue.
To be continued next week