Religion and Scouting and E.W.Kannangara
Rohan H Wickramasinghe (ites@SLT.LK)
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 22:23:12 +0000
Regarding the recent discussion about religions, I recall that
(although Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist), we also had
in my years in the Wolf Cubs and Scouts, Christians (both R.C.
and others), Hindus and Muslims (and I also think some Parsee
(Zoroastrian) schoolboys may have been scouts).
Of the Chief Commissioners (i.e. for the entire country),
the present incumbent K.H.Camillus Fernando is a Roman
Catholic and his two immediate predecessors were Buddhists.
>From among the earlier Chief Commissioners, M.M.Mohideen was
a Muslim and E.W.Kannangara was "Church of Ceylon"
(corresponding to an Anglican).
I have with me a copy of an appreciation of E.W.Kannangara, which
was published in the national newspaper, "Daily News", on 16 Feb
1994, the centenary of his birth. I quote below a few extracts to
convey an impression of the life of this grand old man of Scouting
in what was then Ceylon. The author is the respected A.O.Wirasinghe,
formerly of the Civil Service and a senior Government Official.
" Today is the birth centenary of a distinguished Sri Lankan whose
remarkable career and endearing qualities of head and heart , which
contributed so much to the advancement of Sri Lanka prior to and
after independence, merit commemoration.
Edward Wilmot Kannangara was not born with the proverbial silver
spoon. During the hey-day of British colonialism, wealth and
influence were pre-requisites for a distinguished career and a
place in the sun. However, due to his indomitable courage,
tenacity of purpose and brilliant application of talents , he not
only reached the pinnacle of the public service, which he adorned
for 31 years, but also contributed to the public life of this
country as a senator, chief scout commissioner ..........
... he passed the London (University) Bachelor of Arts Examination
in 1913, with Latin, Greek, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics as
his subjects.........all his subjects had to be mastered by
(The article describes his career in the public service.)
(The account goes on to say how E.W.Kannangara, who was an
"Anglican" married the daughter of a well-known Buddhist
philanthropist. She became a Methodist, herself, some years
later; she had been educated in a Methodist school in her
After his retirement from public service...... until 1954, when
Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala appointed him to the Senate,
where his wide experience and knowledge would have proved
invaluable. In 1954 he accepted the office of Chief Commissioner,
Boy Scouts, and thereby achieved another of his boyhood ambitions.
He held this office until 1967 and his amiable face wreathed in a
broad smile became a familiar picture in the newspapers of that
time under the caption "The Scout Smile".
He retired from active public life, thereafter, as he was then in
his mid-seventies and devoted himself to religious activities.
Being a devout Christian, he served as President of the Colombo
YMCA, President of the Bible Society , Chairman of the Advisory
Board of the Salvation Army and Deputy Chairman of the Institute
of Social Work. He passed away peacefully in 1971 at the age of
77 to join his beloved wife.
He will always be remembered by his contemporaries , both in the
public and private sectors, for his simplicity, benevolent nature
and kindness of heart.He bore no malice towards anyone and was
always genial and good-natured...........
When he left for his divine home in 1971, E.W.Kannangara could
well have said: "nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine; my life's
work is done", and I am sure his divine master would have
received him with the words: "_well done_, thou good and
faithful servant, enter into thy rightful place in my Kingdom
which has been reserved for you." "
The article from which the above was taken is very long and I
have removed the sections which would not be of immediate
interest.However, this post still is lengthier than usual but I
post it, notwithstanding, in view of the exceptional subject.
(He, also, gifted me two pigeons from his dovecot when I took
up raising pigeons as a schoolboy !)
Rohan H. Wickramasinghe,
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City