‘Everyone has a story to tell’, claims author Ajita Kadirgamar. Never has this proved to be truer than in her attempt, 40 years later, to unearth and preserve memories of the first generation of television pioneers in Sri Lanka.
This book focuses on the first 20 years - the golden years - of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, which, while resulting in astonishing levels of creativity and growth, also witnessed a civil war and an insurgency, both of which gravely impacted the blossoming television industry.
During the research phase, the writer discovered just how deeply entwined SLRC’s history was with SLBC and ITN, from where the bulk of the original staff came. She has endeavored to delve into aspects of SLRCs history rarely acknowledged before, giving due credit to the Japanese, Americans, Canadians and Germans for their critical role in the construction, set up, and training phases.
Within these pages are SLRC team members’ personal recollections of the adventures, tragedies, trials and tribulations, narrow escapes, achievements, humorous moments, and many instances of going the extra mile during those key formative years, all recounted in the voices of the pioneers themselves.
Some Quotes included in the book
“Our history at SLRC is embedded in our hearts, it's real. We started, operated, enjoyed, learned, found friends and spouses, created, made others jealous – we made the most of it all. And we left it with dignity. That was our youth, sweat and tears. Be proud my dear friends, we did it!”
~ Janaka Jayasekera, Cameraman
"I am grateful for the invaluable experience that I gained initially at ITN, then at SLRC, which has provided me with untold opportunities, beyond my dreams." ~ Noeline Honter, Newsreader, Producer and Interviewer
“The strength I received from SLRC to make my professional life a success is immense. I would like to express my gratitude to the media ‘mother’ who nurtured me for 36 years. ~ Mahinda Samarakoon, ENG
“For one who assumed he could never contribute much to anything, it behooves me to accept that SLRC has taken me to some fancy places after all.” ~ Arun Dias Bandaranaike, Presenter and Interviewer
“People who read this book will appreciate the services of SLRC staff. History is very important, and I am glad that you have undertaken to tell the history of Rupavahini.”
~ Waruni Wickramarachchi, Secretary, Engineering Division
This book was intended to be published in February 2022, on the occasion of Rupavahini’s 40th anniversary. However the unforetold economic crisis that hit the nation resulted in a shortage of paper and sent printing costs sky high. I was therefore reluctantly compelled to postpone publication. In the meantime, many of SLRC’s founding staff have passed away, making it imperative to publish the book without further delay, so that as many as possible of the older staff can see their name in print.
I am asking for a sum of Rs. 1.5 million to cover cost of layout, formatting and printing.
As advance payments need to be made, I am hoping to raise the entire sum by November 25, 2023.
About the Author
Ajita was born in Oxford, UK and travelled by ship with her parents Lakshman and Angela Kadirgamar to the island of Ceylon, aged eleven months, just before taking her first baby steps.
She spent the first eleven years of her life in Ceylon and attended St. Bridget’s Convent. Her family then moved back to Oxford, and from there on to Geneva, Switzerland, when her father joined the United Nations.
Ajita returned to Sri Lanka in 1982, and joined Rupavahini five months after the station was launched. She was one of Sri Lanka’s best-known English-language media personalities in the 80s and 90s. Her 20-year career spanned the early days of television as a pioneer at SLRC, where she was a producer, presenter, and interviewer.
She also had a short stint as one of the radio hosts of Home Scene at SLBC and concurrently wrote for leading magazines such as Explore Sri Lanka, LMD and Business Today. In addition, she was a sought-after compere, and in the 90’s conducted media skills training for various institutions.
In 1999, Ajita received The Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) Award for ‘Contribution to Arts, Culture and Literature’, and in 2000 she was presented the ZONTA Woman of Achievement Award for ‘Media and Communication’. These awards were a fitting tribute to her multifaceted 20-year media career.
Between 2002 - 2013, Ajita lived and worked in Massachusetts, USA, first for a global Sri Lankan IT services company, and then for the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), located just outside the city of Boston, in marketing communications positions.
In 2009, having been laid off from her job due the economic recession in the US, Ajita had the great fortune to become a founding member of The New England Job Show (NEJS). This was a unique effort by a group of unemployed professionals who created a community TV programme to support and motivate other unemployed people. It was a great hit and received national press coverage in the US. Ajita mentored the volunteer group on production and presentation, as well as playing the roles of anchor, interviewer, supervising editor and scriptwriter. The video below captures some moments of her journey.
In 2015 Ajita wrote her first book, a biography of her late father Lakshman Kadirgamar, titled ‘The Cake that was Baked at Home’. The book was published on the occasion of his tenth death anniversary. Currently in its fourth edition, the book continues to be sold out.
Today, she lives on a tea estate in the central hill country of Sri Lanka, where she spends countless hours in front of her laptop while gazing out at a vista of tea bushes, tall trees, and green hills. She feels blessed to call this spot her piece of paradise, her happy place.
24th October 2023 - I have started my campaign, really looking forward to your support.