24th death anniversary of Premakeerthi de Alwis
This 31st July marks the 24th death anniversary of one of the greatest songwriters in Sri Lankan history. He mesmerized the entire nation through his lyrics – and his songs touched people’s minds and hearts. Premakeerthi de Alwis could connect to us through words and bring out deep meaning in simple lyrics.
I am writing this article because it saddened me there was nothing written about him for his birth anniversary last month. He was brutally assassinated in 1989, on July 31st where the assassins dragged him out of his house and mercilessly shot him in his head. Some say he pleaded for his life because of his son. I am an admirer of his songs, and his assassination resonated with as I have witnessed as well as knew few people who were silenced during this dark period. During late 80s, 117 members of Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP) were brutally assassinated. SLMP assassinations started with Vijaya Kumaranatunga who was also a popular artist. Up to now there has been no clear evidence of the perpetrators of many of these killings.
Premakeerthi had an exceptional skill to write songs in all subjects including nature, love, Buddhism and many more. His ability to produce songs with deep nuances was appreciated by many across the Island. Many artist were blind without his words, they wanted his words to sing. It is baffling to think of how anyone could silence a man of such great talent and kindness? He was a man of many talents; he was also an excellent broadcaster, lyricist and a television presenter. The perpetrators of his murder are still not known and his family, like many others from this period is still wondering who took the life of their beloved family member.
We cannot deny that there should be justice first in any plural society, and perpetrators should be punished and brought under the law. I am happy that His Excellency the President has appointed a commission for Matale grave, which is another graveyard of mystery. As I am not an artist, I request that an artist who had some contribution from Premakeerthi to pay gratitude to this remarkable human being at least in a small way. We need to value human life, and preserve dignity first so that our social fabric will be strong. We should not allow extreme and fascist groups to tear the beautifully woven fabric of our Sri Lankan society.
It is truly disheartening to see there was no commemoration for many artists who sacrificed their life to build a democratic society. Ernest Hemingway writes in his famous book, The Old man and the Sea – “A man can be destroyed but not defeated”. All these great men were destroyed, but their words and legacy lives on even up to now and the young generation should learn about their great lives. Ran Samanalayo is a song by Sunil Edirisingha that was written by him and indeed, he truly is a golden butterfly of our nation that we can never forget.