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Ajith Samaranayake: Multi-faceted journalist

This is a tribute written by Andrew Scott on Ajith Samaranayake on his untimely death. We reproduce this article which appeared on December 05, 2006 to mark his 53rd Birth Anniversary.

“He shall not die altogether”

(Horace)

TRIBUTE: The untimely death of the renowned and respected English journalist, Ajith Samaranayake, one time Editor of the Sunday Observer, The Sunday Island and Friday and the Managing Editor of the Lake House English newspapers, is a great loss to Sri Lankan journalism, both English and Sinhala, whose wide readership benefitted very much from his broad knowledge couched in his own style of writing and those who wished to take up to journalism as a career.

He was also a prolific writer on the arts, drama, cinema, literature, current personalities and important past and present events.

In addition to all these he was an eminent English editorial writer whose editorials were masterpieces of his


Ajith Samaranayake

 forensic skills.

He hailed from Kandy and was a distinguished old boy of Trinity College, which was the nursery of many a brilliant Sri Lankan writers. Ajith Samaranayake was renowned and greatly respected for his informative writing which went into the hearts and minds of readers throughout the country and even abroad, specially in the Asian region.

Throughout his life he cared little for honour or fame and he always dedicated himself for the cause of gentlemanly journalism and many who cared to follow his simple principles in life sought his valuable counsel at various stages of their lives and whoever sought his advice came out with a lighter heart and of course a wiser mind.

With his family background, inherited gifts and strength of character and the impeccable training in English and Sinhala he received at Kandy’s Trinity College, he was well equipped to gain eminence in any sphere of activity but for several decades he engaged himself in the field of English journalism starting his journalistic career as a cub-reporter in the Evening Observer.

For well over two decades his name became synonymous with English journalism in Sri Lanka where through the well selected vocabulary he used, he mesmerised the reading public.

He was very active throughout his brief but very productive life and he maintained the friendliest relations with even those who opposed his views.

In addition to his long and dedicated service to English journalism in Sri Lanka he rendered an unforgettable service through his brilliant writings by enlightening many readers on various mundane topics.

He respected and had a good knowledge of all religions and valued our national culture and heritage about which he wrote so much. Ajith Samaranayake was a quiet individual who had a wide knowledge of men and matters which he had acquired through the years.

The death of this popular journalist shocked and saddened the hearts of all those who had come in contact with him, directly or indirectly, specially thorough the print and electronic media of this country.

He continued to write with an inimitable style and readers of his columns throughout the country craved to read them daily.

Whatever place he was in he showed love and compassion to all and many a time saved numerous unfortunate people from difficulties and the carefully chosen words which flowed through his pen and typewriter had a great impact on the minds of many.

Though his vibrant writing was stilled by the cruel hand of death he has left us a legacy through his multi-faceted writings. His life has been rather short but the imprint he has left on our society, specially in the field of English journalism in Sri Lanka, is great.

One of the noblest examples he has left us was his preference for simplicity in all his activities and even in his style of dress and he treated everyone equally irrespective of caste, creed and religious differences.

Ajith Samaranayake lived a calm and collected life and by his death this country has lost an eminent journalist who was capable of writing with ease on even the most difficult topics. Though cruel death has snatched him from our midst his name and fame as a writer will be remembered for many more years.

His death is admittedly an irreparable loss to Sri Lankan journalism at a time his services are required most but he has become legendary in the annals of English journalism in this country.

He belonged to a group of talented and dedicated journalists who had an equal interest in may activities outside his immediate profession and until his untimely death he had an abiding interest in and a regular attachment to both the print and the electronic media through which he strived to enlighten the readers and listeners.

Now this versatile journalist and gentleman has left us forever leaving a void in several places where his services are most needed and all of us owe a deep debt of gratitude to him.

There is no doubt that his name will be honoured with undying gratitude for many more years to come.

Though his physical body is no longer with us his breathing spirit will thrust itself into the lives of all those who have read his writings in various newspapers from time to time.

The impact of his work in the field of English journalism will continue to be felt in the Sri Lankan social scene for many more years.

His death marks the end of a golden era in the annals of English journalism in Sri Lanka.

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