and renaming without rhyme or reason
Lankans have a great passion for renaming
places, roads, parks and the like. The idea
behind it all is to confer some form of
immortality on those whose names have been
used to replace old names. If there are
sound reasons for renaming, so be it. But at
times we arrive at ridiculous situations
such as in the case of the name of the road
I moved into about 10 years ago. Old timers
say that this road in Nawala has been called
Galpotha Road since living memory, for
bright morning, however, residents were
surprised to see that the road had been
given a new name - the name of some writer
of sorts who had written about Kotte, the
ancient capital of the country at the time
of the arrival of the Portuguese. The
re-christening or renaming has been by
courtesy of the Municipal Council Kotte.
residents apparently did not like it. A few
days later it was strewn with mud and dung
and the name was unreadable. Undaunted, the
Municipal Council, sometime later, replaced
it with a new board and the new name back
again. Some days later the new board
disappeared. But months later a new board
reappeared with the new name on top and the
old name of Galpotha Road below.
is a unique road now, a road with two names!
But I wonder how it stands in law. If a
policeman or judge asks you: Are you so and
so of No. X, Galpotha Road what are you to
say? Yes, no or yes alias the other road
this passion about the name of the road
however does not match the state of the
road! It is pot-holed and without proper
Stray dogs control every cross-road
Rarely a tractor comes along to fill
up the holes with some kind of rubber paste
which disappears with the first few showers.
Those loyalists to the names of the road do
not have the same passion for road repairs
I am incorrect in claiming that the name of
my road is unique. There is at least another
road with two names - the busy, congested
road running from Maradana junction to Eye
Hospital junction. It was called Deans Road
in the old days but many years ago renamed
after a reputed Buddhist monk. The addresses
given in some of the name boards of this
street lined with shops and boutiques are
Deans Road while some others have the new
name only. Some occupants obviously do not
want to change to the new name!
years ago there was the controversy of
renaming Moratuwa Stadium as Tyronne
Fernando Stadium. Tyronne is a son of Moratuwa and
was a minister and MP for Moratuwa at
that time. Others opposed it saying that the
land was donated by a Moratuwa
philanthropist and if any renaming was to be
done it had to be named after the
name of the stadium, if my memory serves me
right, changed with the change of government
from UNP to SLFP but now with Tyronne
batting for Mahinda we wonder what the name
of the stadium is. Earlier a wag suggested
that it be named Puran Appu Stadium, an
ancestor of Tyronne who led a rebellion at
Matale against the British, but others said
it should not be so because Puran Appu who
was strongly anti-British would not have
played pandu - cricket.
there is the controversy about renaming the
historic Asgiriya Grounds after Muttiah
Muralitheran, the best bowler in the world.
Poor Murali has nothing to do with the
demand. He is too humble and modest for that
- a sign of really great men. But there are
those who want to bask in the glory of
Murali. There are practical aspects to be
considered too. Murali is still playing for
the country and usually such honours are
conferred on retirement.
these are the grounds of Trinity College and
old boys are against it being renamed after
a person from their rival school, however
great he may be. There is also the case of
Kumar Sangakkara who was recently topping
the international rankings in batting and he
is an old boy of Trinity. So why not Sanga,
it could be argued.
week there was a report of Sports Minister
Gamini Lokuge saying that Asgiriya has to be
named after Murali. Apparently he knows
nothing about old school traditions. Murali
certainly deserves the highest award the
country can confer on him but let the time
come. The greatest honours are conferred on
sportsmen only on retirement.
speaking of retirement what about Arjuna
Ranatunga, the man who led the team that won
the World Cup for Sri Lanka?
Surely that is the greatest
achievement of a Sri Lankan cricketer so
only praiseworthy naming of a monument of a
truly great person was that of naming a
building at the Peradeniya Campus after Sir
Ivor Jennings, a truly great scholar who
helped our first Prime Minister D.S.
Senanayake to gain independence from the
British and participated actively in
establishing a truly great and beautiful
campus at Peradeniya.
have tried their best to destroy it since
then but it still stands. Some pigmies
objected to naming a building after Sir Ivor
and instead wanted it named after one of
their colleagues. The Peradeniya dons did
themselves an honour by refusing to give in
and instead conferred honour where honour
lunacy of naming and renaming is fast
spreading like an epidemic. The latest we
heard is naming a housing scheme in the
northeast Mahindapuram. We make no comments
except to quote the often quoted lines of
the English poet Percival Shelley.
met a traveller from an antique land
said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
in the desert, near them on the sand a
shattered visage lies.
on the pedestal these words appear.
name is Ozymandias King of Kings
on my works, ye Mighty and despair."
remains, round the decay of that colossal
wreck, boundless and bare
lone and level sands stretch far away.